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.