The Simplest Explanation of Habit Stacking You’ve Ever Seen
Habit stacking is a sensational way to build simple success into your day.
To understand habit stacking, you need to understand “habit” itself. I have a free 1 hour course on my website that teaches you all about habit which you can access by clicking here. If you haven’t completed the course yet, here a brief description of habit:
A habit is a subconscious, automatic action. It is subconscious because your brain has turned that action into a neural pathway in order to operate more efficiently.
So being conscious about going home after work to hit the gym may be a good routine, but it only becomes a habit when it is repeated consistently within the same context.
Habit(f) = (cue + routine + reward)repetition
How to Stack
Now that you understand habit, let’s talk about how you can stack them. Essentially, habit stacking is using the routine or an immediate reward of one habit as your cue to engage in a second habit.
Let me say that again, habit stacking is when you use the routine or immediate reward of one habit as your cue to engage in a second habit.
So if you take a look at the picture below we have 3 blocks stacked on top of each other. These 3 blocks represent 3 different habits.
I am going to use a habit stacking example from my life in this example here. Every morning, I wake up and the first habit I engage in is brushing my teeth. That is the absolute first thing I do in the morning. My formula for that habit looks like this:
cue = waking up + morning
routine = using toothbrush to brush teeth from top to bottom, left to right.
reward = fresh breath that allows me talk to others in-person (i.e. no more morning breath) and no feeling of plaque in my mouth
Now, as soon as I engage in the routine of brushing my teeth, I am cued to engage in a second habit which is doing body weight squats. The formula for that habit looks like this:
cue = using toothbrush to brush teeth from top to bottom, left to right.
routine = doing body weight squats while I brush my teeth
reward = feeling energized and ready to take on the day, building muscle and strength
Now as soon I finish brushing my teeth and finish doing my teeth and squatting, I am cued to engage in a third habit which is making a tea or coffee. That formula looks like this:
cue = doing body weight squats
routine = turning on the kettle, taking out a tea bag, and pouring my tea OR boiling water + coffee grounds over the stove and pouring my coffee
reward = having a drink and some caffeine to get me going
Now I could go on to my next habit which is doing my ab exercise and a workout, but I have that particular habit integrated as both a stacked habit and a reverse stacked habit, so now I want to show you how to reverse stack.
The Reverse Stack
Below on the screen there are 2 blocks there are only 2 this time because I personally only reverse stacked 2 habits. For a reverse stack, you are using the routine of one habit as your reward for engaging in another habit, first. One more time, reverse habit stacking is using a routine of one habit as a reward for engaging in another habit, first.
Reverse habit stacking works best if you have a 1 really good almost innate habit set up. Brushing your teeth in the evening before bed is a great one. So if I don’t complete my work out in the morning after I do my third habit of drinking tea or coffee, I reverse stack it onto brushing my teeth in the evening. So what I’ve done is established brushing my teeth as the reward for engaging in my working habit.
So if it’s time for me to hit the hay, I know that I need to pump out my ab workout if I want to be able to do that. The formula for that habit looks like this:
cue = wanting to get ready for bed
reward = teeth getting brushed and then being able to sleep
routine = ab workout
Now I can tell you this works because for the past 12 months, I have been doing ab workouts every single day as a result of my stack or my reverse stack. Having both types of habit stacks implemented (one in the morning and one in the evening) ensured I never missed an ab workout. And since this ab workout is a habit, I have not stopped doing it since day one! I actually ran this challenge for 6 months with a bunch of my amazing followers in an accountability group I created on Instagram so shout out to everyone who participated in that!
If you want to work with me 1:1 to create a habit stack or a reverse habit stack or both, I would love to do that with you! Analyzing habits and making things as simple and efficient as possible is my jam. The first consultation is always free so if you do want to set up even just that first meeting together, you can click right here to do so.
I am also offering 50% OFF all coaching sessions while we are quarantined. You can take advantage of that offer by using the code BYECORONA at checkout.
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Disclaimer: I am not a medical or mental health professional. Any information and content on my website is not a substitute for professional health advice.