How Using Habit Stacking Will Help Build Better Daily Routines
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How Using Habit Stacking Will Help Build Better Daily Routines

Published 01/31/2022

We're over a month into the new year. Have you managed to build new habits and routines and stick to them?

If so, congratulations! Keep up the great work. If not, maybe you should give habit stacking a try.


What Is Habit Stacking? 

Habit stacking is the idea of building new habits upon the habitual tasks you already complete daily. In his book, "Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes Or Less," S.J Scott presented the original concept of habit stacking. More recently, James Clear discussed habit stacking in his breakout bestseller, "Atomic Habits." 

Let's look at an example. 

Maybe you have the goal of building more muscle or having a clean kitchen?

A habit stack for building more muscle could look like this. "Before eating a meal, I will do ten push-ups" or "before I shower, I will do 20 sit-ups". Taking a habitual task like eating or showering and adding a new habit on top can help build a new positive routine or habit stack. 

Habit stacking for a cleaner kitchen could look like - "Immediately after cooking dinner, I will clean the dishes." Perfect. You've taken a habitual task like cooking dinner, and you've added a new habit to help guide you towards a cleaner kitchen.

By building upon these previously ingrained habits, we can add more small practices to help improve our quality of life. 


Finding The Right Habits 

You may be asking yourself this question, and it's an excellent question. The idea of habit stacking is terrific; however, how do you find the proper habits to add that will improve your quality of life?

James Clear talks about finding your correct cue and matching it with the right frequency. Let's discuss this a little further. 

The Right Cue 

"What am I interested in?" to find this, you need to ask yourself, "what makes me tick?" Or, "what motivates me daily to get better?" 

Finding the answers to these questions will help generate the proper habits to stack to your daily routine. James Clear suggests writing down two lists.

Daily Performances 

  • wake up 
  • shower 
  • get dressed 
  • brush my teeth 
  • eat breakfast 
  • drive to work 
  • go to the gym 
  • eat dinner 
  • go to bed 

Daily Occurrences 

  • the movie ends 
  • car runs low on gas 
  • the talk show on the radio begins 
  • it starts raining 

You can now find the perfect time to add your habit stacking by generating these two lists. 

Picking the wrong time, like trying to do yoga in the morning when you've got kids running around getting ready for school, will likely lead to poor outcomes. Maybe adding yoga after your kids have gone to bed at the end of your day is the better option.  

Clear also suggest making your cues specific. This thought could mean a particular signal like, "After I finish my coffee, I will put my cup in the dishwasher." Or "I will get up from my work desk and stand every 20 minutes". A more vague example, like "work out more" or "clean more," can lead to questions and poor outcomes. 



Clear also mentions choosing the correct frequency can lead to better habit stacking. For example, if you want to add a daily meditation before you drive to work but only work Monday through Friday, that may not be the best choice. 

When habit stacking, make sure to line up the frequencies of the habits. If you want to meditate more, perhaps choose to add it after brushing your teeth in the morning. Or, if you want to save money, possibly select a habit stack like "with each paycheck, I will add 10% to my savings.” 


Give It a Try

Habit stacking, when done correctly, can lead to tremendous personal growth and self-awareness. Building upon previous habits can be an easier way to add new practices to help improve your quality of life. 

"Success is the product of daily habits - not once in a lifetime transformations."  - James Clear in Atomic Habits

This article is just a sampling of the fantastic insights offered in Atomic Habits. If you struggle to build better habits or eliminate poor ones, we cannot recommend the book highly enough.


Anther. Male wellness where it counts.