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Medium: Use Temptation Bundling to Create Better Habits

By June 21, 2019August 10th, 2020No Comments

We’re just over halfway through the year at this point, which means if you were optimistic enough to make new year’s resolutions, you’ve probably already been through the various stages of failing at them. It’s a familiar cycle: You start off bright-eyed and eager, then quickly lose steam, take a break, feel guilty, muster another half-hearted attempt, and, right about now — with all the pleasures of summer in full swing — finally come to grips with the fact that your resolution has not stuck.

It’s easy to chalk this up to a lack of willpower, the inability to say no to that half-pint of ice cream left in the freezer, or that last sweep of Instagram before bedtime. But the key to sticking with a habit may not be saying “no.” It’s figuring out the right time to say “yes.”

“Temptation bundling” is a term  by the behavior researcher Katherine Milkman and her colleagues in a 2014 study. Here’s how it works: Basically, you “bundle” a source of instant gratification (like checking Instagram or watching an addictive show) with a beneficial but less fun “should” activity (like running on the treadmill or working on a spreadsheet). In Milkman’s study, the researchers gave participants iPods with four audio-novels they wanted to listen to — but they could only access the iPod while working out. By and large, the participants’ gym attendance increased when an indulgence was tied to it.

Read more on Medium’s Forge Magazine.

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