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A Little Temptation Bundling

I thoroughly enjoy listening to various podcasts, whether politically-focused, discussing grammatical and writing tips (really), fleshing out history, survival preparedness, or even one that “explores the hidden side of everything” as the folks at Freakonomics Radio claim to do.

Today, I listened to the Freakonomics podcast featuring Temptation Bundling: the idea of tying together two activities—one you should do but may avoid; and one you love to do but isn’t necessarily productive. For instance, you find it difficult to get to the gym to work out. On the other hand, you have a couple TV shows you really love, but feel guilty taking time to enjoy that non-productive activity. Solution:  put them together! Only watch those TV show rebroadcasts on your iPad while working out on a treadmill…problem solved!

Katherine Milkman, an assistant professor at the Wharton School at Penn is interviewed for the episode. She holds a joint Ph.D. in computer science and business, but her passion is behavioral economics—and, specifically, how its findings can be applied to help people in their daily lives. Milkman’s research is motivated by personal experience. She says,

I struggle a lot with willpower. And I find it difficult at the end of a long day to get to the gym, I find it difficult to stick to my diet, I find it difficult to stick to my goals more generally. And … one of the things I’ve found curious is why, and what I can do to solve those problems for myself and for others. And that’s where a lot of my research focuses.

In thinking about the episode, I realized I do a bit of temptation bundling myself. I smoke cigarettes (I know, I know), but refuse to pay the highway robbery, tax-filled price charged for them these days. Years ago, I bought a small machine, a bag of tobacco, and paper tubes so I can sit and make my own at a substantial savings. That process is a bit tedious, however, so I bundled it with listening to a podcast or two while producing my cigarettes…problem solved!

There are many, many activities that could benefit from temptation bundling. Learn more here or by listening to the podcast via iTunes or elsewhere, or get the RSS feed. I think you’ll find it quite interesting.

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