Harness the Momentum of Habit Stacking
so you can do more of what you love
If you don’t think you have time to do things you love on a daily basis, it’s time to consider habit stacking.
What is habit stacking?
You probably already practice habit stacking without even knowing it. If you wake up, take a shower, use shampoo, then conditioner, dry off and get dressed, you’re a stacker. Perhaps you stack in the evening by brushing your teeth, washing your face and reading a book before bed. You can probably identify little pockets of habit stacks throughout your day.
If there are new habits or activities that you’ve been meaning to build into your day, learn to harness the momentum of habit stacking. It’s not just for waking up or getting ready for bed.
5 minute habit stacking
By doing things you love in tiny, 5 minute increments, you can build momentum and use it to extend the time you spend with your new habits or by adding more blocks of things you love.
Start by making a list of things you like to do or new habits/activities you’d like to adopt. These are probably things that you try to squeeze in once in a while, or feel rewarded when you get to do them. This could be part of a morning, afternoon or evening routine or ritual. Include the things that you really want to do, and that will contribute to your health and happiness.
I started with a really big list …
- Practice yoga
- Learn Spanish
Choose two. (don’t worry, you can add more later) I used to take on more than I should and almost always burned out from any new habit, exercise plan or lifestyle change. Now that I do it more slowly and intentionally, I am much more successful.
Pick a time that you can stack each day. Morning, afternoon or evening; if you can stick with a consistent time, at least for the first month, your stack will have more staying power. If other things come up, that’s ok. Just get back to it the next day. If you miss a day, all is not lost. This is when we usually throw in the new habit towel. Instead, keep going.
Show up. Even if you don’t do a thing, just show up for your stacking routine. There will be times when you don’t feel like it, or feel tempted to put it off for a an hour. Instead, go there.
Only five minutes. Do your two activities for five minutes each. It might feel weird to do something that normally requires more time for only a few minutes, but it will help to establish the routine of your new habits. Even if you want to do more, stick with just 5 minutes each for the first week.
Add one minute. After the first week, add one minute to each activity. If your first week was a challenge and you missed a few days, stick with five minutes for another week. This isn’t a competition or a race. Do it thoughtfully.
When you are ready, add another activity and repeat the steps above.
Some habit experts suggest developing one habit at a time, and while I strongly believe in the power of one, I love the momentum and energy that comes from habit stacking.
Months after I started with two activities at five minutes a piece, I created a habit stack with fifteen minutes of meditation, fifteen minutes of yoga, a thirty minute walk and fifteen minutes of creative writing. There are some days that I have to break it up into two sessions depending on other responsibilities, but it comes before work and most obligations.
This practice quiets my mind, nourishes my body, and fuels my creativity. It doesn’t replace other exercise or writing that I do during the day, but instead supports it and allows me to start each day with intention and gratitude.
You might feel tempted to power boost your habit stacking by starting with ten minutes, or adding three minutes every week instead of one. Resist. Give this small, slow method a chance
I never thought I would have more than an hour a day to dedicate to activities I love, and if I hadn’t eased into it, it would have been overwhelming. By starting small, I created a meaningful morning routine.
If you’ve been unsuccessful implementing new habits, this approach will help. Shift your focus from the individual habit to the habit stacking practice and do more of what you love every day.
I’d love to hear about the habits you want to stack. Where will you start?
want more? visit courtneycarver.com.