Habit Stacking

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Benjamin Franklin is quoted as having said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”

It safe to say the majority of us in this day and age are always trying to become a better version of our former selves. In doing so, we soon realize our day to day habits impact our life long goals.

I’ve realized however, that as best as I try, I just forget to do certain things consistently. For example, I want to ensure I am flossing every day. And no, not dancing – although movement is good for the body and soul.

I tongue scrape and brush my teeth twice daily, but I’ve set a goal to floss regularly. And I was failing until I introduced habit stacking.

Simply put habit stacking is attaching a tangible reminder of completing Task B, to Task A that you’re already doing regularly.

Since I brush my teeth in the shower (I know, I will get better with conserving water ASAP) I would forget to open up the medicine cabinet and grab my floss after my shower. Now, I keep the floss next to my deodorant in the bathroom closet.

Another habit I wanted to start was taking weekly walks outside with my children. Although they are active in sports, I want to instill a familiarity with just being in nature and enjoying the surroundings. So, I started “Walk It Out Wednesdays” where as soon as we returned home from after school pick up, we’d take a walk around our neighborhood.

Here are some other habits or cues you can stack a new task onto:

  • Stepping out of bed in the morning
  • Taking a shower
  • Making tea or coffee
  • Taking your lunch break
  • Taking a screen break
  • Getting gasoline for your car
  • Getting on the train after work
  • Putting the dishes away
  • Setting out your clothes for the next day

Since these are things most of us do regularly, stacking a new habit that we’re trying to adopt (e.g. a 5 minute stretch, reading for 10 minutes) to these examples should help us reach our goals in no time.

Remember to Not Forget!

Do you even plan?Screen Shot 2018-01-27 at 9.25.28 AM

Well, do you?

Most of us rely on our memory for short term or long term tasks and events. Especially for things that are recurring on an annual basis. We usually do not write these things down because we innately remember these items.

At least we think we do.

If the event or task is static, for example: ‘The last day of school is on June 22nd’ then there is no need to plan.

If the event has another task or outcome attached to it, then this is where it’s helpful to plan. For instance: ‘It’s approaching the last day of school … I need to find a summer camp for the kids!’

It is also helpful to recognize there are levels to planning. For the summer camp example, it will be helpful to start planning as early as possible – especially since paying for camp can be quite expensive. To plan ahead to ease the burden, calculate the total cost of camp (tuition, additional fees, food, clothes and toiletries). Next, determine how much time you have between the start of camp, or when payment is due. In determining the timeframe, I use a bi-weekly format to match the frequency of my take home pay. At the time of my calculation, I determined I have 8 pay periods to save the required $2,000.00 for camp. That’s an additional $250.00 (per paycheck) I will have to set aside so I won’t resort to racking up debt by using credit cards or otherwise succumb to anxiety in worrying about how I will pay for this expense.

Another planning hack I’ve come to rely on is using my Google calendar to schedule recurring yearly events. Most recently, I received a notification that my vehicle’s annual inspection was coming due at intervals of one month and one week before the last of the month in which the inspection was to take place. I am usually in an out of my car so quickly between work, child pick up / drop off, groceries, errands, activities etc. – I barely have time to look at the front sticker on my car. So I will continue to rely on 21st century technology to help me out along the way.

Finally, I feel it is both helpful to use an electronic and paper planner for the planning. An electronic planner allows for reminders to be set and accessed across many platforms. You can clip recipes, articles, sources of inspiration etc. from around the web and attach to your planner. You can also instantly share an event with anyone you choose (e.g. using Google’s calendar) so they can lock in the date of the event as well. A paper planner helps with daily tasks and tracking of long term goals. Although we have access to amazing technology, the act of writing things down to bring them to fruition never goes out of style.

All in all, it is good to take some time and do a brain dump of all of the “things to do” in your head. Then sort it all out and plan to live your very best life!


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Daily Prompt: Maddening


Much Madness is divinest Sense – (620)

By Emily Dickinson
Much Madness is divinest Sense
To a discerning Eye
Much Sense – the starkest Madness
’Tis the Majority
In this, as all, prevail
Assent – and you are sane
Demur – you’re straightway dangerous
And handled with a Chain

My girl Emily knew the deal way back when. Those who go against the crowd are often singled out and discounted. Still, if going against the crowd means going for what is right and good we should march on. Never stop marching. And as history has shown us first they call us crazy. Then they follow.