13 Habit Stacking Ideas To Improve Your Life

13 Habit Stacking Ideas

Are you looking to improve your life by creating some new, healthier habits but aren’t sure where to start? A technique called habit stacking is a simple yet effective strategy that can help you build new habits and make them more likely to stick.

In this post, I’ll share 13 habit stacking ideas to help you improve your life and reach your goals. From exercising and being more organized, to practicing mindfulness and reducing stress, these habit stacking ideas are sure to help you make positive changes in your life.

What is Habit Stacking?

Habit stacking is a clever habit-forming method made popular by S.J. Scott in his book,
Habit Stacking: 127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness, and James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits.

Essentially, habit stacking is the practice of taking an existing habit or behavior that you already do regularly, then adding a second habit to it to create a stack. Over time, you can add more habits to the stack to create a chain of new habits.

Why is Habit Stacking an Effective Technique?

It can be difficult to adopt new habits and make them stick. We often feel overwhelmed when trying to improve our health and wellness.

Habit stacking works because it takes an already existing habit and it adds to it. The old habit acts as the trigger for the new habit. The two together start a habit stack.

For instance, most of us don’t have to make ourselves use the bathroom when we wake up. It’s a habit that’s already ingrained in our morning routine. An easy way to start habit stacking is to attach another habit to using the bathroom in the morning.

While you’re taking care of business, you can say three things that you’re grateful for. It’s small, it’s easy, it can be done while you’re doing something you always do, and it can help you to start practicing gratitude on a daily basis.

Habit stacking is effective because it’s small, it’s easy, and it’s connected to something you’re already doing. Eventually, the two things will go together without you having to think much about it.

Your brain will start to connect those two things together and the new habit will become a natural part of your morning routine.

13 Habit Stacking Ideas

The following list contains just a few ideas of how you can start creating your own habit stack to improve your life. Take these and start incorporating them, or just use them as inspiration to come up with your own.

The important thing is to pick things that are important to you and that will help you get closer to your goals. There’s no right way to do this, there’s only YOUR way.

1. Drink water before you get out of bed

A smiling female reaching for a glass of water first thing in the morning

This is a great way to start working on proper hydration. Have a bottle or glass of water on your bedside table. As soon as you turn your alarm off and before you get out of bed, drink it. This might be the easiest thing to incorporate and you’ll be starting your day with some healthy hydration.

2. Do some squats while you brush your teeth

Getting some movement in while you’re brushing your teeth is a great way to capitalize on those two minutes that you’re normally just standing there. While you’re brushing away, you can do some squats, hold a wall squat or a deep squat, or do some calf raises if squatting isn’t an exercise you want to do.

3. Meditate while your coffee brews

As soon as you press that button on your coffee pot, have a seat, close your eyes, and start focusing on your breath. The few minutes, while your elixir of life prepares itself, is a great time to get centered before you start your day. If you think you don’t have time for meditation, you probably need it more than you think. Use your idle coffee-brewing time to get some mindfulness in.

4. Take your supplements before you prepare your breakfast (or after you eat)

It can be so hard to remember to take supplements or medication, so why not attach it to something that’s easier to do, like eating breakfast? Once you take out your ingredients, but before you prepare your food, take your supplements. Or, if you like the idea of taking them after you eat, then make sure you take your supplements before you put the dishes in the dishwasher.

5. Connect with a loved one on your drive to work

A man driving and smiling

Staying connected to our loved ones is so important for our overall well-being, but our hectic lives can make it hard to keep those connections strong. Use the idle time in traffic to reach out. Call a friend or family member or use talk-to-text to send a random text to friends you haven’t connected with in a while

You never know what a simple text can bring into your life, so stack it as a habit on your commute!

6. Write tomorrow’s to-do list before you head to bed

This can be very helpful to make sure you stay as productive as possible. To-do lists only work if you write them out, so commit to writing tomorrow’s to-dos before you get up to go to bed.

7. Get some movement in before you get dressed in the morning

A female doing some yoga stretches in bed in her pajamas

This doesn’t have to be a full workout, although it can be. Even if you don’t like working out in the morning, a little light movement and stretching before you get dressed can be amazing. It’s a great way to start your day and wake up your body and mind.

8. After you eat, immediately put the dishes in the dishwasher

If you hate doing dishes, this is a game changer. Imagine NEVER having to see a sink full of dishes EVER again. Does that sound like a dream? Well, it can be a reality if you just put your dishes in the dishwasher instead of putting them in the sink.

9. When you buy a new pair of shoes, get rid of an old one

This is a great way to keep your closet from getting overcrowded and to make you aware of the shoes you already have, but the best part about it is that it often spills over into other areas of your life. When we make the effort to be less cluttered in one area, it encourages us to be less cluttered in other areas.

10. Take a few slow, deep breaths before you start eating

This is a great way to calm your nervous system before you start eating. Hopefully, it will help you to eat a little more slowly and a little more mindfully, but even if it doesn’t, you’ve gotten in a few good deep breaths, which is never a bad thing.

11. Do some light desk stretches before you start your workday

A great way to get some flexibility and mobility training into your day is to do them as soon as you sit in your desk chair before you start your work day. Some simple chair twists, or overhead reaches, can make huge improvements in how you feel sitting in that chair all day. You sit, then you stretch, THEN you work.

12. After you get into bed, journal

If you’ve always wanted to keep a journal but you’ve never been able to make it stick, connect it to the trigger of getting into bed. As soon as you get into bed, pull out your journal and write for at least a few minutes. It doesn’t have to be a lot but commit to writing something every time you get into bed.

13. Take a deep, calming breath before you check a notification

A female taking a meditative breath at her desk

We get so many notifications during the day and they can often be stress-inducing. When you hear that little bing on your phone, take a deep slow breath with your eyes closed before you check it. This will remind you to remain calm and it will give you several opportunities during the day to calm your nervous system.

How To Start Creating A Habit Stacking Routine.

Start by taking a look at your current habits or your morning routine. Make a list of the things that you are already doing every morning without fail. You’re waking up, probably using the bathroom, and maybe making coffee or waking up the kids.

Then start thinking about some easy habits that you can start stacking onto the things that are already in the existing routine. Maybe you use some from the list above or use them as inspiration to create your own ideas.

Once you have your already existing habits and your new habits, then you want to take one or two and connect them to what you’re already doing.

Don’t try to do too many too soon!

That defeats the purpose. Pick one or two and connect them to something you’re already doing. Once some time has passed and the new behavior is engrained in your morning, THEN you can pick a new habit to continue the stack.

Eventually, you will have a cool little habit stack that will continue to improve your life for years.

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