It’s summer and the time of year when routines ordinarily shift. Whether you have children on summer break, hours are adjusting at work or volunteer and extracurricular activities go on hiatus or ramp up, the season usually brings changes. In this year of 2021 the changes include phasing out of pandemic restrictions and figuring out what this new season will include. Habit stacking can be a great tool as you make adjustments in your own and your family’s lives.
Habit stacking is adding small things to our already existing routines. We all have morning, evening and other routines that are habits we barely think about as we do them. For example, you may get up, eat breakfast, shower, brush your teeth, and possibly exercise each morning, in that order.
Creating a new habit can seem like a job that requires effort. You’ve heard that it takes 21 days of repetition to establish a new habit; others say even longer. Yes, repetition will be necessary, but habit stacking is an easier way to make some desired changes.
Author S.J. Scott wrote a book called Habit Stacking: 127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness. These are all things you can do in five minutes or less – tiny habits at its best. The book is a great tool for learning this technique.
Habit Stacking Works in All Areas of Life
Tiny habits work in all areas of life:
- Leisure (Your days off, vacation time)
- Organization (Keeping the house and/or workspace clean, organized, and decluttered)
- Finances (Making and saving money, reducing debt)
- Productivity (Finding your best working hours, getting tasks done on time)
- Spirituality (Connecting with the earth and your Higher Power)
- Health and Fitness (Your mental and physical well-being, including what you eat and how you exercise)
- Relationships (Developing loving relationships with family and friends, getting along with co-workers)
Getting Started with Habit Stacking
The basic process is this:
- decide which of the above areas you want to improve and identify why this is important to you
- identify a current routine which you can augment with micro habits on this topic
- choose and add/stack those micro habits to it.
For example, if you want to focus on health and fitness and you do a few minutes of yoga in the morning, you can stay on the mat and do five minutes of meditation. After that is complete, you can do four minutes of visualization, and to finish it up, do three minutes of deep breathing.
Here are some examples of areas of life where we already have routines that we can augment with the tiny habits we choose to add.
- When we wake up in the morning
- When we start work
- On a break or lunch
- After work
- After dinner
- When exercising
These are examples – adjust with your own life routines.
S.J. Scott believes that you should only add micro habits to one routine at a time. So using the example above, you will augment your morning yoga routine to improve your health and fitness to start with. You can add micro habits to other routines after this is one is established. Repetition is key; doing your expanded routine including the new tiny habits each day for 21 to 30 days will establish a lasting pattern.
Example of Habit Stacking
Let’s look at a daily routine for enhancing relationships using habits stacking. We will use dinner time as our example. You can stack several mini-habits like this:
- When we prepare dinner, I will ask about their day.
- When we sit down to eat, I will say how grateful I am for not only the food but having them in my life
- During the dinner, I will put away my cellphone and focus on what they say
- During cleanup, I will touch my partner’s or child’s lower back to make a physical and emotional connection.
- After dinner, I will take their hand, and we will walk around the block while I express my love
Just like goals, being accountable will help you to succeed. Tell people what your stacked habits are, and if they see you miss a step, they can remind you what you need to do.
Habit Stacking: 127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness includes access to a companion website with bonus downloads, checklists and videos. Here’s where to access the book:
Get S.J. Scott’s book here: Habit Stacking