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Adopt Good Habits With Temptation Bundling

SONY DSCThe legendary Jim Rohn once said, “Success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day.” That is, success depends on adopting the habits that will allow us to achieve our goals. Some of these habits may include the following:

  • Becoming an early riser;
  • Exercising on a regular basis;
  • Saving 10% of each paycheck;
  • Eating a live frog first thing each morning (completing an important task which you dread); and so on.

However, building positive habits can be difficult. For one thing, creating a positive habit requires self-control, and self-control is often in short supply. Fortunately, there are many tools out there which can help us to acquire new habits. We can call these tools “commitment devices”. One of these commitment devices is temptation bundling.

You’ll discover a definition of temptation bundling, as well as examples and an explanation of how you can apply this commitment device in your own life, below.

Temptation Bundling – Defined

Temptation bundling” is a term coined by Wharton operations and information management professor Katherine Milkman. A few years ago, Milkman was having trouble going to the gym on a regular basis. At the same time, one of Milkman’s guilty pleasures is listening to Audio books of fiction novels like “The Hunger Games”. Therefore, she hit upon the following idea: she would only allow herself to listen to these low-brow audiobooks when she was at the gym.

Milkman discovered that by following this approach, her gym attendance rose dramatically.

Temptation bundling achieves two goals at once:

  • First, it reduces the amount of time that you devote to temptations. After all, you’re limiting the situations in which you’ll allow yourself to engage in the temptation.
  • Second, it increases the likelihood that you’ll engage in desired behavior. That is, it makes it easier for you to adopt positive habits.

Examples of Temptation Bundling

The concept of temptation bundling is intuitive. It’s likely that, at least at some point, you’ve already applied this device. I remember that when I was in college, many years ago, I created a mixed-tape of my favorite songs. Sometimes I would listen to the tape when I was supposed to be studying. In addition, I wanted to create the habit of going for a walk every day.

What I did was the following: I told myself that I could only listen to the tape on my Walkman as I went for a walk. That way, I killed two birds with one stone:

  • During my study time I would work on my assignments instead of listening to the mixed-tape.
  • I would go for a walk every day since I loved listening to the mixed-tape, and my walking sessions were the only time during which I allowed myself to indulge in this activity.

Some other possible applications of temptation bundling include the following:

  • If you enjoying having $5 lattes at the coffee shop around the corner, only allow yourself to do so if you work on a tedious assignment while you’re there.
  • If you love watching shows like “Person of Interest” and “Homeland”, but you hate ironing, only allow yourself to watch these shows while you iron.

Temptation Bundling – Creating A Game Plan

So, how can you begin applying temptation bundling in your own life? Begin by creating a list of temptations. That is, things you love to do, eat, or experience, but which you realize you need to limit. This can include watching TV, eating certain types of foods, reading addictive fiction novels, and so on. This is “List A”.

Then, create a list of “should” behaviors. That is, things you should be doing in order to achieve your goals, but which you tend to procrastinate on. This can include things such as studying, working on important but dull reports, exercising, and so on. This is “List B”.

Lastly, bundle items from “List A” with items from “List B”.


As I stated at the very top of this post, in order to succeed you need to take the action that is necessary for you to achieve your goals on a consistent basis. That is, you need to create habits. Commitment devices, such as temptation bundling, can help you to acquire these habits.

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Related Posts:

1. Stop Procrastinating By Making It Fun
2. The Key To Goal Success: Setting Implementation Intentions
3. What a Masked Vigilante Can Teach You About Goal Achievement – The Zorro Circle
4. Five Scientifically-Proven Ways to Strengthen Your Self-Control

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