What is Habit Stacking? Build a Chain of Activities to Create a Routine
Habit stacking is an easy and strong way to make or change new habits. If you have trouble starting new habits, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Our brains are best at doing things we’re used to and not so good at new stuff. That’s because our brains like doing things we’re already good at or feel comfortable with. But this doesn’t mean we can’t succeed with new habits. One way to succeed is by using habit stacking. In this post, you’ll discover what habit stacking is and how you can use it to build good habits that last in your life.
What is Habit Stacking?
The term ‘habit stacking’ was introduced by S.J. Scott in his book called “Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less.” In the book, he recommends that you make habits out of easy things. This way, you can remember and do them without much effort, and these small wins can help you make more progress over time.
Habit stacking, sometimes called ‘habit chaining,’ is a really good way to create new habits. Here’s how it works: you pick something you already do every day, like a regular routine, and then add your new habit to it. This way, you use the strong connections in your brain that already exist for your old habit to help you with the new one.
Habit stacking is like a plan. Instead of connecting your new habit with a specific place and time, you connect it to a habit you already do. It’s about putting small tasks into a routine that you add to something you already do. This helps your brain remember the new habit and link it to the old one you’re used to.
If you consider each action in your habit stack as a separate task, you’ll need reminders to keep track of each one. Over time, this can become very tiresome, and you might give up. However, combining these actions into one habit makes it easier to remember and do regularly. Habit stacking might seem hard when you start, but after a few tries, you’ll see it’s not as tough as you thought.
15 Steps to Create a Habit Stacking Routine
1- Begin with a Habit That is Simple and Easy to Do
The best way to make a new habit stick is to make it simple. For example, if you want to read every day, set a goal of reading just 20 pages each day. You can read more if you want, but as long as you finish those 20 pages, consider it done for the day. The key is to set an easy goal that helps you get over any resistance. Once you start, you’ll often end up doing more than you thought.
2- Concentrate on Achieving Little Successes
Build your daily routine around simple activities that don’t require a lot of effort or willpower. For example, do 10 push-ups, drink 8 glasses of water, or take a vitamin. Choose tasks that are easy and take less than two minutes to complete. Then, organize your routine around these tasks. Commit to doing these actions for a week or two until they become a habit. Once they feel natural, you can start adding more new habits to your routine.
3- Select a Location and Time
Every habit stack wants something to remind you to do it. This reminder should be linked to a certain place, time, or maybe both. Here’s an example of how you can use a reminder to create a habit stack: In the morning, when you’re at home, starting your day with a morning routine is a great way to feel fresh. You can do a set of activities that will help you begin your day in a different mood.
You can add things like meditation, saying happy words to yourself, and having a healthy breakfast to your morning routine.
4- Connect Your Habit Stack to Something That Reminds You to Do It
Reminders are important because most people can’t remember all their tasks by themselves. So, reminders can help you remember to do important things. There are two main types of reminders: external and internal reminders. External reminders can be things like a phone alarm, a pop-up message on your device, or a sticky note.
Internal triggers are the thoughts and emotions linked to habits you already have. It’s important to know the difference between these two types of triggers when creating useful habit stacks. This knowledge can also help you change bad habits that might get in the way of your progress.
5- Make a Checklist
The most important part of a habit stack is the to-do list. This list should show the order of the things you need to do, how much time each will take, and where you will do them. It clears up any confusion about what you need to do when you’re trying to get something done.
Here’s a helpful tip for making your checklist. Arrange the small tasks in a way that they naturally follow one after the other so you don’t waste any effort transitioning between them.
6- Be Accountable
To build a new habit routine, you have to be responsible for yourself. Many people don’t succeed in making new habits because it’s comfier to stay the way they are in life. Just promising to do something isn’t enough. Your motivation won’t last forever.
You might feel very excited and ready to go in the beginning, but your commitment and self-control decide if your new habits will last or fade away. There are various ways to make sure you stay committed to the habits you start.
For instance, you can share your progress on your social media, get a buddy who helps you stay on track, or tell the people around you about your new routine.
7- Set Small and Fun Rewards
Doing your habit stack is a big win, and you should celebrate it. Giving yourself a treat is a great way to keep you motivated to finish your routine. The treat could be taking a break, going out with your loved ones, or eating at your desired restaurant.
8- Keep Doing It Over and Over
In the first few weeks of starting a habit stack, doing it again and again is very important. You must stick to your plan daily, even if you miss one or two steps. Repeating it helps your brain get used to it. When you make a new habit over and over, it becomes a natural part of your routine.
Doing something again and again is important, but it’s okay if you miss a day or two. However, the most important rule is to never skip 2 days in a row without doing the habit.
9- Keep the Chain Unbroken
Create a goal that you can do every day without any excuses. The goal should be something you can manage, even on days when you feel lazy. One idea is to put up a calendar on your wall and mark a big red X each day when you finish the habit. Seeing those Xs will encourage you to keep doing the goal every day.
The more days in a row you have those red X marks on your calendar, the more motivated you’ll be to keep the streak going. This method is meant to help you avoid making excuses that could stop you from keeping the chain of X marks unbroken.
10- Expect Setbacks
Everyone, even those who are really good at being consistent, can have problems or difficulties in their daily routine. Making good habits is not easy, and you will definitely face some tough times. When this occurs, you have two choices: give up or find a way to beat the challenges. We hope you pick the second choice and find solutions to overcome these difficulties.
11- Plan How Often You Will Do A Habit Stack
You can choose when you want to do good things regularly. Some habits can be done every day, some once a week, and others once a month. We suggest you begin with a small set of daily habits first. Once you’re used to doing them, you can make a set of weekly or monthly habits. These weekly or monthly habits are like reminders for important but easy-to-forget tasks, like making a budget, looking at your credit card bills, or planning a special dinner.
12- Make Your Stack Bigger
First, begin with a habit that’s simple and not too hard. It’s best to start with something easy. If you can only spend a limited amount of time on your habits, doing just one habit stack might not bring many benefits. So, it’s a good idea to slowly add more habits to your routine, aiming for a 30-minute routine where you finish at least 6 habit stacks. But remember, take it one step at a time. Start with one habit, then add more gradually.
In the second week, add two habits, and in the third week, add three more. Keep doing this pattern until you have a big stack of habits, which is made up of six smaller stacks of habits.
13- Create Just One Routine Step By Step
According to a study in the European Journal of Social Psychology conducted by researcher Dr. Phillippa Lally, a behavior can take between 20 to 260 days to become a habit. The research recommends that it’s better to concentrate on one habit at a time. Attempting to establish multiple habits simultaneously can make it more challenging to stick with them.
You should only start making a new habit regularly when it’s easy for you to do without much effort. But the study shows that, on average, it takes about 66 days for a new thing you do to become permanent. So, the time it takes to turn a new habit into a regular thing varies.
14- Look At Your Goals Again and Again
We all have things we want to achieve, whether they’re big or small. But, with our busy lives, we can forget about our goals. It’s a good idea to take some time each month to think about your main goals. Are the things you’re trying to do too hard? How can you make them better? Then, come up with a plan to help you stay on course and keep doing the things that will help you reach your goals.
15- Decide on A Time Plan for Yourself
Deciding on a specific timeframe can be helpful. You can choose any date or deadline, like 20 days. Having a timeline makes you more committed to sticking with your new habits. It can also make the process less scary because you know when it will end. Plus, it’s a good chance to stop and see how you’re doing on your journey.
Why Does Habit Stacking Matter?
Habits greatly impact your life, even if you don’t realize it. That’s because our brains hold onto the routines. Over 40% of the things you do each day are habits, not things you choose to do on purpose. Habits become stronger over time and start happening automatically. So, it’s important to have good and healthy habits. Habits work well because they create a desire in your brain by releasing “feel good” chemicals.
10 Advantages That Habit Stacking Can Bring You
- Assisting you in becoming the person you really want to be.
- Letting you show a good example and inspire others to be better.
- Improving your life by helping you do your tasks well all the time so you can have a better quality of life.
- Assisting you in sticking to good habits even on days when you don’t feel like it.
- Assisting you in building better habits to replace the ones that aren’t so good.
- Knowing how your most important tasks connect and using your time wisely to do them will help you get closer to your targets.
- Assisting you in making sure that what you do every day matches what you believe in, like, and want the most.
- Learning a new skill fast by focusing on it every day.
- Letting you try different things to learn new skills and learn more about yourself and others.
- Automating your routines stops you from using too much brainpower and making too many choices.
How to Discover a Good Reason to Make Habit Stacking Work Better?
To find the right thing that reminds you to do your habit stack, you can begin by listing your current habits. Make a list with two sections. In the first part, write down the things you do every day. In the second part, write down what’s happening around you every day.
Now that you have these two lists, you can figure out where to fit your new habit into your daily routine. If you want to create triggers, remember these 4 things:
- A good trigger is something you already do regularly, every day, without forgetting.
- A trigger can happen at a specific time in your day. It can be something that always occurs at the same time every day. For instance, when you wake up in the morning or after you eat lunch. Whichever trigger you choose, it should be something you do automatically.
- A trigger must be simple to do. It won’t work well as a trigger if it’s a complicated task. For instance, if you read before bed every day, using that as a trigger is not a good idea because sometimes you might skip it for certain reasons.
- A trigger should not be the start of an innovative habit. It usually takes about 70 days, or even longer for harder habits, to make a habit stick. So, don’t use a novel habit as a trigger unless you are sure you can do it every day without fail.
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