Wanna know how I got into the habit of stretching every night?
I bribed myself.
I decided that if I wanted to watch Netflix after the kids went to bed, I had to stretch while I watched.
That’s called temptation bundling.
It works by linking an action you want to do with an action you need to do. Hence, I will only stretch at night if I am watching a series on Netflix.
Or, if there’s work I’m procrastinating on, I will go and grab a nice coffee and drink it while I get that task done.
To be clear – I absolutely drink coffee every day, but I make it at home most of the time.
So when I do go out to a cafe, it’s a treat! And that acts as an incentive for me to do that work I’ve been avoiding.
James Clear (the author of Atomic Habits – a fascinating book that I highly recommend), talks about how we can use temptation bundling to our advantage.
He says to write a two column list.
In one column, write down the pleasures you enjoy.
And in the next column, write down the tasks or behaviours that you need to do, but you often procrastinate on.
And then, you can link the columns.
So, let’s say you always procrastinate on folding your laundry. And let’s also say that there’s a podcast that drops every Tuesday that you LOVE listening to. I would suggest that you listen to that podcast every Tuesday night but only while you fold laundry. You have to fold the laundry in order to listen to the podcast.
Or let’s say you have 1,000 unread emails that you need to file. Well, if you love getting a monthly pedicure, use that time to sit and process those emails.
Or if you really struggle getting to the gym, but you’re committed to persisting, you could say “Well, if I go to the gym, I can buy a coffee after”.
I think temptation bundling can be a useful way to make progress with the habits you really want to build but struggle getting started with.
And let’s be real, there are always gonna be things you don’t want to do unless you’ve got a big carrot dangling in front of you.
So, bundle your temptations.
Have your carrot and eat it too.