What is Habit Stacking? Create new habits using current habits

What is Habit Stacking? Create new habits using current habits

About 90% of everything we think, do or say is determined by our habits.

Building or creating a new habit which is consistent enough sounds too challenging, isn’t it? Do you know, we all have some consistent behavioural patterns in our daily lives which we aren’t aware of.

For example, when you wake up in the morning, you have a habit of making your bed. You probably take a hot shower after that. Maybe then you make yourself a cup of coffee. You also hopefully wash your hands after using the bathroom.

This type of behaviour is automatic and you don’t have to think to do it. Similar to this there are probably thousands of daily habits which you do and are unaware of it.

Do you know you can take advantage of your already formed behaviours to create new habits? The method I am talking about is known as Habit Stacking.

What is Habit Stacking and how to build habits using Habit Stacking?

Habit Stacking is a special form of strategy wherein, rather than pairing your new habit with a particular time and location, you pair it with your current habits. This technique is super effective which I referred it from BJ Fogg’s Tiny Habits method.

Firstly, you need to identify your current habits. It can be anything, as long as you are doing it consistently. Secondly, you can add or “stack” a new habit on top of it.

The Habit Stacking formula looks like this:
After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].

For example, suppose your morning routine is –

  1. Get up and make your bed.
  2. Take a shower.
  3. Drinking a cup of coffee.

In such a scenario, if you want to add “meditation” and “reading” habits, then you can add or stack the new habits in between your current habits. And after applying the Habit Stacking formula it will be – “After I take a shower, I will meditate for 1 minute. After I have a cup of coffee, I will read 2 pages of a book.”

I know 1 minute meditation and 2 pages reading sounds negligible. But believe me, just getting started in your activity is the first step of building any habit. So make sure the new habit which you stack on top of the current one is small and manageable by you. The idea here is to start small and experiment with yourself which habit fits where, so you can form an actual habit over time.

Tips while using Habit Stacking

First, I suggest you make a list of small daily activities which you perform throughout, each day. For example,

  • Get out of bed.
  • Turning off the alarm.
  • Take a shower.
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Get dressed.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Turn off the lights.
  • Start the workday.
  • Eat lunch.
  • End the workday.
  • Change work clothes.
  • Sit down for dinner.

Your list can be much longer, but I think you got the idea here.

After that, make a list of habits you want to include in your daily routine. Then whichever behaviour fits with your new habit, just add “After” and “I will” behind it.

You can also club more than one tasks together. Let me show you with some examples –

  1. After I pour my morning cup of coffee, I will meditate for 60 seconds.
  2. After I meditate for 60 seconds, I will drink coffee.
  3. After I drink coffee, I will write the to-do list for the day.
  4. After I write the to-do list, I will begin with my first task.

Habit Stacking helped me building my reading habit

A small change and I was able to build a daily reading habit. Previously my morning routine was like this:
Wake up > Make the bed > Take a shower.

I changed it to like this:
Wake up > Make the bed > Place a book on my pillow > Take a shower.

By doing so, when I climb into the bed at night, there was always a book waiting for me on my pillow. Seeing the book already at my bed made me to read a few pages and using the 2 minute rule, I was successful to include this little activity on my daily list.

Mistakes that you should avoid while using Habit Stacking

Let’s say you decide to include the following habit:
“After lunch, I will take a break and do 5 push-ups.”

At first glance, it sounds reasonable. But actually doing push-ups after lunch is illogical. It may create problems for your health. Instead, you can do this,
“When I close my laptop (when at home), I will do 5 push-ups.”

Habit Stacking works best when the habits you choose is more convenient to perform. This technique might feel overwhelming at first, but don’t worry much. The key to success is to start small with less number of tasks. Once you get comfortable with this approach, you can easily build up your desired habits.

Now I highly recommend you to try out Habit Stacking for yourself.
Thank you for reading!

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