Photo by Hannah Olinger
Habit stacking happens when a habit becomes attached to another. For example, you get home from work and take off your shoes every day. You then make a habit of always putting your walking shoes on directly after and walking around the block for exercise. You’ve stacked these habits together.
Habit stacking is useful because it makes forming a new habit easier. Habits are formed when, after time and repetition, your brain associates a certain trigger with a behavior and a reward. Forming a completely new habit takes more time and energy than using a current habit to stack onto. To stack a new desired behavior onto an existing one, first make sure the two actions make sense and are feasible working together. Let’s say you’d like to start a habit meal planning for the week. You have a habit of eating your lunch at your desk every day. You could stack the meal planning with your lunch break habit. These two actions work well together because you’re already sitting at a desk; you have the time to research recipes and to write them down.
Habit stacking works best when you start small and think of the behaviors as one habit. This way, you are more likely to be able to carry out the tasks without feeling overwhelmed. If they are viewed as one habit, you won’t have to remind yourself to do more than one thing and you’ll be more likely to succeed. Another tip for stacking habits is to hook the habits to a trigger. This will help solidify the habits in your brain. Triggers can be any feeling or action really. Take your alarm clock for example. It rings in the morning to wake you up for work. Its ring triggers you to get up, make coffee, take a shower, etc. The actions you take after the alarm clock rings can be whatever you choose to make a habit of. If you want to start meditating for example, that action would stack well into your morning routine. Habit stacking is an efficient way to start up a new good habit. When you start small, build onto a habit that exists already and view them as one action, hooking a new habit onto an existing one is faster and easier than starting a new habit altogether