Nothing influences behaviour like convenience. When we conduct Community-Based Social Marketing research on habits, people often tell us that what they are doing is easy or convenient. And they often say the reason they aren’t doing what we would like them to because it is inconvenient.
In recent research, we found many people in a community weren’t putting kitchen scraps in their organic collection wheely bins. They said it was too inconvenient. However, when we gave them a small pail that fits under the sink to collect kitchen scraps, which they can later dump into the wheely bin, the same task seemed convenient. Over 90% of the people to whom we gave a “kitchen catcher” said they would start composting food scraps.
We can see convenience all around us. Waste containers are put on streets and in parks to make proper disposal of litter convenient. Ashtrays are provided outside buildings in the hope that cigarettes are not stomped out on the sidewalk. Hand sanitizer pumps are provided in many health facilities to reduce the transmission of germs. It is relatively inconvenient to go to the washroom to wash your hands, as studies have found. Grocery stores put their high margin items at eye level and the really high margin items at the end of the aisles to make them more convenient to buy. And they inconveniently put milk way at the back corner so you have to go through most of the store to get to it.
When we want to change our own behaviours, we also have to make them convenient. If your New Year’s resolution is to become more fit (which is one of mine), then you want to make sure that there are few barriers between you and exercise. You can join a gym or a fitness class across town, but is that convenient? When you face the choice between staying on the couch and watching your favourite TV show or driving to a pilates class, which is more convenient and more likely to be done?
Recognizing my own
laziness dependence on convenience, I took steps to making exercise much easier for me to do.
I looked at the cost of joining the closest gym (gulp!), and acknowledging that at even 5 minutes of travel was a significant barrier, I decided to get my own equipment. And at less than 1/2 the cost of a 1-year gym membership. So the equipment in the photo is in my recreation room, takes up little space and is very versatile. It is so handy that I often take 5-minute breaks from my computer to get some exercise in. I also have a stationary bike and a treadmill that are not in the photo.
The other thing that makes fitness convenient for me is a collection of apps. I am a big believer in using these supercomputers in our pockets (that we call smartphones) for improving our lives. These fitness apps provide reminders, ensure that I have proper technique, allow me to choose my own background music and keep a record of what I have accomplished. They even include friendly trainers who inspire me to do better. It could get much easier. (If these particular ones peak your interest, they are Under Armour apps on an iPhone).
Perhaps fitness isn’t your goal. Maybe your resolution is to meditate or put some money away. Maybe it is to be more productive. Whatever it is, make it convenient. My friend and Blast subscriber Kat at Azentive (http://www NULL.azentive NULL.com) suggested Insight Timer, an app that has been very helpful in me meeting my meditation goals. If you ever see me at my son’s hockey practice and seemingly staring into space, there is a good chance I’m listening to a guided meditation on Insight Timer. (https://insighttimer NULL.com)
So take stock of your resolution and if it is convenient. If not, make it so. It is a shortcut to meeting your goals.
Next, we will look at making behaviours so convenient they are subconscious.
If you are reading this and are not part of the Change Community that supports New Year’s and other resolutions, join here (https://www NULL.getdrip NULL.com/forms/334813986/submissions/new).