Habit stacking. It sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Linking habits together is a way of getting more done in less time, resulting in a positive change in your life. As you perform the stacked actions every day, they become part of your daily routine.
At first glance, the nature of habit stacking can be a bit confusing—so let’s discuss each element of this concept. Reviewing each element makes the concept easier to understand and will help you develop your own habits, create a new routine and make small, positive changes in your life.
Habit Stacking: 2017 Version of the Habit Book
Habit Stacking was a popular book on habits that was written in 2014 by Steve Scott. It was a fascinating concept of starting multiple small habits and linking them together off of an existing base habit. The concept was fascinating and Scott went in in the book to give 97 examples of small habits that you could add to your “stacks” to help improve your life.
In May 2017 this popular small habit book, got a major makeover. Scott added three times the original content, expanded his list of 97 habit examples to 127 examples. And totally reworked the strategies o implementing Habit Stacking.
The best part about this rewrite is that, even with 3 times the content the amount of fluff decreased. The book gets to the point and is one of the best books on habits.
This blog is made up of made up of excerpts from the original Habit Stacking book. There is good stuff on this blog, and I hope you enjoy it. But as good as this material is, you really need to take a look at the new version of habit stacking book.
Element #1: Each Habit Takes Less Than Five Minutes to Complete
Each habit within your habit stacking routine takes less than five minutes to complete. This means that each task is simple and doesn’t require a major time commitment, making it easy to finish and move on to the next habit.
Five minutes is 0.35 percent of your day. Just one-third of one percent of your day will help you create a habit that results in long-term change and benefits. A great example of a quick one-minute habit is collecting all your loose change and adding it to a change jar or sending a text message to a friend that you haven’t connected with in a while.
Element #2: It’s a Complete Habit
A complete habit is an action that cannot be built upon. For example, exercising is a habit that can be built upon. Exercises change, increase or decrease, and develop over time. This is not the point of a habit within habit stacking.
Each habit is a full action completed in a short amount of time—like making your bed. It is basically the same action every day and doesn’t vary much in the time it takes to complete.
Element #3: It Improves Your Life
Habit stacking is done with the purpose of improving your life in a positive way. The positive changes that come along with habit stacking are reflected specifically in one of seven areas: productivity, relationships, finances, organization, spirituality/mental well-being, health/physical fitness and leisure.
Within this book are 97 small changes that will improve your life. For instance, finance habits help you get smarter at spending, saving and budgeting. All of these things are broken down into specific, actionable routines.
Element #4: It’s Simple to Complete
Since each habit takes less than five minutes to complete, it’s natural that none of the habits are complicated or rigorous. The simplicity of each habit allows you to complete it and move on to the next habit, sticking to the routine and making a lot of positive changes quickly and efficiently.
Each habit takes only a few small steps to complete. One example is unsubscribing from a retail email newsletter. You can do this by taking a few simple actions that take only a few seconds each.
Element #5: It Takes Less Than 30 Minutes
Your complete habit stacking routine should take up just 15 to 30 minutes when you string all of the quick actions together. If you’re new to habit stacking, start by focusing on habits that add up to around 15 minutes of your day. This will help you avoid being overwhelmed and ensure you complete all of your habits.
With a 15-minute routine, it’s possible for you to complete anywhere from three to thirty small changes. Even if you add new habits, it’s important to keep your routine to less than 30 minutes. If you create a routine lasting longer than 30 minutes, there’s a chance it will take too much of your time, making it difficult to complete every habit on your list.
Element #6: It Follows a Logical Process
Your habit stacking routine should flow like a well-oiled machine. You complete each action, moving from room to room quickly and consistently. If you take breaks in between actions, you are wasting both time and energy. This could prevent you from not completing the entire routine.
The whole process should be like a production line, with constant action until all the habits are complete. Every time you complete the routine, it will get easier and become more habitual, resulting in many positive life changes over the course of the next few weeks or months.
Element #7: It Follows a Checklist
Habit stacking isn’t meant to be a guessing game, or to be improvised on a day-to-day basis. It should be a set of actions done the same way, in the same order, each day. The best way to make sure this happens is to have the habits written down in a checklist. That way, you always know which task comes next and feel a sense of accomplishment as you get through each item on your list.
Checklists do much more than keep people organized; they also increase productivity. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande is a great read about how checklists can improve personal productivity. It offers great insight and inspiration for your own habit stacking checklist.
Element #8: It Fits Your Life
It’s important to leverage your day when it comes to habit stacking. Take advantage of your location and the time of day when it comes to your habits. Energy is usually at its peak during the first part of your day, which means you should be completing habits that inspire or excite you about the day ahead.
A great example is sending an inspirational quote or story to a loved one. It takes energy to find such a piece of content and decide who to send it to, but this habit is highly rewarding and will help you kick off your day feeling great and ready to tackle all the following habits you have in your routine.
Well, there you have it—all the important elements of habit stacking. You must take all these elements into account when creating your habit stacking routine because they all work together to ignite positive life changes.
Because all of the elements work together, you need to include them all in a productive and successful habit stacking routine. The right structure of a habit stacking routine is the foundation for constructive, valuable habits that result in positive changes.