Tag Archives: Grocery Stores

Procrastination, Or Why We Keep Putting It Off

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, dudes.

I know what you’re asking yourself: Did I really dig up a bunch of information on procrastination just so I could use that joke in the opener. Yes. Yes I did.

However, that doesn’t mean that procrastination isn’t something we can just forget about. It seriously is a problem here in Casa de Dude, especially around me. I tried to adopt the motto: Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. I tried, but I kept waiting to actually do it.

Heck, I think so much about procrastination, I made the character in my latest novel, Until Tomorrow, the godlet of procrastination. And, no I’m not kidding. The character’s name is Tom Sure, which is short for Tomorrow, For Sure. As in, that’s when I’ll get it done.

So, yeah. Procrastination. Let’s dig in.

David McRaney over at You Are Not So Smart put up a comprehensive post on procrastination the other week and I thought I’d share some of the highlights with you.

McRaney uses your Netflix queue as a great way into the idea of procrastination. Take a look at your streaming queue. There’s a ton of documentaries and important movies in there, isn’t there? I know it’s the case in my queue. It’s sad how many “great” movies I’ve got lined up to watch and, yet, never get to. Turns out, there’s a scientific reason for that. And it’s not because I’m a bone-headed ig-no-ramus.

Okay, sure, I probably am, but that’s not the reason I don’t watch all these movies.

Many studies over the years have shown you tend to have time-inconsistent preferences. When asked if you would rather have fruit or cake one week from now, you will usually say fruit. A week later when the slice of German chocolate and the apple are offered, you are statistically more likely to go for the cake.

This is why your Netflix queue is full of great films you keep passing over for “Family Guy.” With Netflix, the choice of what to watch right now and what to watch later is like candy bars versus carrot sticks. When you are planning ahead, your better angels point to the nourishing choices, but in the moment you go for what tastes good.

As behavioral economist Katherine Milkman has pointed out, this is why grocery stores put candy right next to the checkout.

This is called present bias, which is the inability to understand that our wants and desires will change over time. It’s why, as a kid, we’re always so shocked that adults, who have the time and the money, don’t really have any of the cool toys.

Present bias is why you’ve made the same resolution for the tenth year in a row, but this time you mean it. You are going to lose weight and forge a six-pack of abs so ripped you could deflect arrows.

One day you have the choice between running around the block or watching a movie, and you choose the movie. Another day you are out with friends and can choose a cheeseburger or a salad. You choose the cheeseburger.

The slips become more frequent, but you keep saying you’ll get around to it. You’ll start again on Monday, which becomes a week from Monday. Your will succumbs to a death by a thousand cuts. By the time winter comes it looks like you already know what your resolution will be the next year.

Yep, that’s procrastination.

And here’s some more. I’m going to put off the end of this post until tomorrow. McRaney just has so much good stuff I want to share, I think I’m going to have to come back for more. Join me, won’t you?

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Just Let Me Get One More Thing

by Richard

Impulse buying is the bane of any parent’s trip to the grocery store with your little dudes and little dudettes.

Seriously. Mostly because it’s their impulse and you’re the one doing the buying (or not buying as is the case when they start screaming. And screaming. And screaming.), so it’s on your shoulders to monitor what just caught the eye of your little dude.

The thing is, though, grocery stores and super centers and department stores, heck, most of retail, count on the idea of impulse buying to make a lot of their sales. And that might be helping to propagate the nation’s obesity epidemic.

Impulse shopping can wreak havoc on your healthy eating plans, but experts say it may not be entirely your fault.

An editorial published in (a recent) New England Journal of Medicine blames part of the obesity epidemic on our food environment. Dr. Deborah Cohen and Dr. Susan Babey collaborated to write the article “Candy at the Cash Register – A Risk Factor for Obesity and Chronic Disease.”

“The reality is that food choices are often automatic and made without full conscious awareness,” the authors write. “In many cases they may even be the opposite of what the person deciding would consciously prefer.”

Which explains why, when you’re at the cash register, there’s whole shelves dedicated to relatively inexpensive, highly sweetened snacks, gift cards, gum, basically anything that’s not personalized and can be handled and checked out quickly. Heck, go to Walmart some day. Over near the quick checkout with fewer than 20 items line, there’s an entire short wall of . . . stuff that might have come straight from late-night infomercial television. That’s where the first Snuggies went for retail sale.

Just about every box there has a As Seen On TV! sticker on it. They’re cheap and the only way you’ll ever buy one is if you hit the checkout counter with a few extra dollars in your hand. And there they are. Ready for you to grab. The short distance to the checkout also facilitates your purchasing it because you don’t have that long to stare at the silly thing in your cart for too long. If your brain engages, it’s a good chance you won’t actually purchase it.

Candy, on the other hand, if we buy that on the way out, there’s a good chance it never even makes it home. Open up and down the hatch.

Cohen and Babey propose treating product placement as a risk factor for obesity. Comparing it to safety regulations for a building, they write: “Although people could certainly stay away from the edges of balconies and not lean out of windows, mandatory railings and window guards protect them from falling … (regulations could) govern the design and placement of foods in retail outlets to protect consumers.”

 The thing is, we know this sort of stuff happens and we know it’s not good for us. All we need to do now, is exercise a little self control; something we’ve been telling out little dudes and little dudettes for years now. Maybe it’s something we can all work on together.
Tell them that, should we not yell and scream, we’ll have a nice healthy snack at home; a crispy apple or delicious banana. Those are snacks that won’t be jumping onto our bellies and holding on for dear life.

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Sunday Serenade: What A Wonderful World

by Richard

It started with a bowdlerized title that mistook wonderful for beautiful. Yesterday’s post was about a beautiful world, but I meant to reference that wonderful Louis Armstrong song, What A Wonderful World, one of my favorite pieces of music.

That lead me to search for the song for your enjoyment today. It was only when I went delving into the horror that is YouTube that I decided to display for you, not the original, but the remake.

This version is by Iz, the late Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, the very large Hawaiian singer. Thanks to a series of Publix grocery stores, this might actually be a better-known version than the original.

Either way, it’s a fantastic song, with a beautiful message for you dudes.



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