The Power of Habit Stacking



“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” — Jim Ryun

Great changes come in small actions.

But how can you add a series of small changes to a simple-to-do framework?

Try “habit stacking.”

In the book, Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take 5 Minutes or Less, S.J. Scott introduces the concept of “habit stacking” and shows us how we can add small changes to make great changes in our life.

What is Habit Stacking

Habit stacking is simply linking or chaining actions together to create a routine.  Within this one routine are multiple mini-habits.

Scott writes:

“As you’ve probably experienced, it’s not easy to add dozens of new habits to your day.  But what you might not realize is that it’s fairly easy to build a new routine. 

The essence of habit stacking is to take a series of small changes (like eating that piece of fruit) and build a ritual that you follow on a daily basis.”

Why Does Habit Stacking Work?

Habit stacking works because you chunk bigger change down into smaller actions to make them easy to do, and because you link them together, so they are easy to remember to do and to reinforce.

Scott writes:

“Habit stacking works because you eliminate the stress of trying to change too many things at once. 

Your goal is to simply focus on a single routine that only takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete. Within this routine is a series of actions (or small changes). 

All you have to do is to create a checklist and follow it every single day.  That’s the essence of habit stacking.”

The Value of Habit Stacking

Knowing what to do is one thing.  Actually doing what you know is another.  The value of habit stacking is doing what you know in a simple routine.

Scott writes:

“The value of the habit stacking concept doesn’t come from the individual habits.  Most of us know what we can do to improve our lives. 

What we don’t know is how to add a series of small changes to a simple-to-follow framework.”

Example of a Habit Stacking Routine

A great way to try out habit stacking is to stack your morning routine.  Identify a handful of habits that you think might help you start your day better.

Stack your habits together in a series so that one habit helps lead to the next.

S.J. Scott provides us with an example of his habit stacking morning routine:

  1. Get out of bed and make it. (Reason: I work from home, so having an orderly environment helps me stay productive.)
  2. Walk into my bathroom and weigh myself. (Reason: I run marathons and need to maintain a specific weight to have a good performance.  Having a daily ‘weigh-in’ keeps me focused on my running goals.)
  3. Wash my face with hot water and a facial cleanser. (Reason: Studies have shown that washing your face helps you feel awake and energized in the morning.)
  4. Walk into the kitchen and pour a 16-ounce glass of ice-cold water with lemon. (Reason: Lemon is another way to feel awake–plus, I instantly get two of the eight servings of water that I need every day.)
  5. Take daily vitamins. (Reason: Most diets are nutrient-deficient.  Following a regular vitamin regimen introduces what I’m missing in my diet.)
  6. Make a power smoothie.  I mix up different recipes, but I like to make ones that include proteins, potassium and antioxidants. (Reason: This simple shake is another way to create energy for the rest of the day.)
  7. Text my girlfriend with a loving message. (Reason: The key to a successful relationship is to do the ‘little things’ on a daily basis.)
  8. Update my mobile phone app with the habits I’m currently developing (Reason: Tracking habits on a daily basis is the best way to make a permanent change.)

If you want to build better habits, try breaking them down into smaller actions and stacking them into a single routine, such as a startup routine, or a shutdown routine.

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