Wellness Wednesday: How Multitasking Can Help You Achieve Your Health Goals

Temptation bundling is a type of planned multitasking that can help you achieve consistency with your health and wellness goals and have more fun while doing it! Learn how to use this strategy in today's Wellness Wednesday post. 

How temptation bundling can help you reach your wellness goals

Yes, multitasking. Probably not the headline you were expecting from this mindfulness enthusiast.

For years I've been trying to figure out how to stop multitasking. In high school, I studied in front of the TV and in college, I studied while on the elliptical. Slight upgrade? When I worked at the hospital, I chatted with coworkers while charting on patients, often leading to some, um, interesting grammar in my notes. Even since starting a mindfulness practice, I still play on social media while talking with my husband, clean the house while chatting on the phone with family, and sometimes even write blog posts with the TV, like, um, maybe this one. Although in my defense, Jurassic Park II is on and we've already established my love of the trilogy. I know this habit affects my connections with the people I love and my ability to GSD (get s*** done).

I never thought about the benefits of multitasking until last week, when I listened to this podcast on Freakonomics. It discussed the concept of "temptation bundling," a term coined by Katherine Milkman, a economics professor at Wharton School. Studying ways to achieve her personal health goals, she came up the practice of tying together two activities, one that you should do but don't have the willpower, and another that you love, but need to limit. For example, her solution for getting to the gym was only allowing herself to listen to audiobooks of the lowbrow fiction she loved while at the gym.

Temptation bundling reduces the amount of time spent on distracting and unproductive activities (umm, facebook) and increases the likelihood of adopting a more positive habit by making it more pleasurable.

After listening to the podcast, I realized that most of my set-in-stone healthy habits are that way because of temptation bundling. For example, I prepare dinner from scratch almost every night. While I enjoy cooking, like everyone, it's tempting to just order pizza after a long day of work. But, because I use my cooking time to watch the mindless TV shows I love (I'm looking at you Vampire Diaries), it keeps cooking from feeling like a chore and turns it into my time to unwind. I've also recently gotten pretty consistent with running, a habit I've unsuccessfully tried to adopt many times before. As much as I love how I feel when I run and after, it's always been a struggle for me to get out the door. This time, I've found by grouping running and listening to podcasts, it gives me that extra oomph to put on my running shoes, especially on Undisclosed Mondays :)

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Want to see how temptation bundling can help you reach your health and wellness goals? Try this strategy. Make one list of healthy habits you struggle with adopting or getting consistent with, then make another list of activities you enjoy, but know you need to limit. Draw a line to bundle an activity from group 1 with an activity from group 2. Here's an example:

Temptation Bundling


The difference between regular 'ole run of the mill multitasking and temptation bundling is that the latter is a conscious, planned decision. Although it sounds obvious, be sure you can physically and mentally do both activities at the same time. While you probably have the brainpower to get a manicure while catching up on old work emails, physically, that would be a bit tricky. Likewise, you could physically start a habit of journaling while listening to a podcast, but mentally it would be a bit distracting.

What are some ways you can incorporate temptation bundling in to your life?