No spoilers, sweetie.
It took me a while to get to the theater to see Star Wars 7. Not because I lacked interest, but because of temptation bundling.
In temptation bundling, you restrict yourself from the thing you want to do until you’ve completed the thing you have to do. In the Freakonomics podcast episode linked above, Katherine Milkman, who studies behavioral economics, gives one example: “Only let yourself go to your very favorite restaurant whose hamburgers you crave while spending time with a difficult relative who you should see more of.”
In my case, I was editing a book. It wasn’t an onerous project—in fact, it’s quite good and I can’t wait until you all are able to read it, because most of you will love it. But it was work, and work of all kinds tempts me to procrastinate. So I decided I would not go see Star Wars until I finished editing that book. The day after I shipped the book back to the client, I went to the movie.
When you’re bundling your temptations, it can be too easy to make food the reward, as in Milkman’s example. For those of us trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, that winds up being counterproductive. So I look for nonfood rewards to give myself when I complete a project or chore. A movie fit that goal nicely.
I made an exception for Star Wars, but generally when putting together a temptation bundle I look for free options. I could easily make every reward a movie or a new outfit or a trip to the yarn shop. But that could get pricey fast. So I look for rewards I can give myself for free.
An obvious one is television. To increase my productivity, I gave up pretty much all television except Doctor Who, which means I only watch TV about eight times a year. But I can stock up old episodes on the DVR and watch one as a treat.
To get myself to the gym, I have a couple of podcasts that I only listen to when I’m there. One is A Way With Words, which is all about language, and the other is A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, which is about writing and other creative work. (Please note that the language in the latter is often vulgar.)
Facebook is turning into the biggest time suck in my world, so I’ve started to think I need to make that my next bundle. I’m thinking of phrasing it as something like I can spend 20 minutes on Facebook for every 4 hours of completed client work.
Do you use this kind of incentive for yourself? What are some of the reward options you’ve thought of?