Solution: Use Habit Stacking to Build Powerful Routines
Here’s the essence of a habit stacking routine: You identify the small actions that relate to a goal or an important desired outcome. Next, you put these habits into a step-by-step routine that’s completed in a logical sequence. Finally, you use proven psychological strategies to make this routine “sticky” so you never miss a day.
Habit stacking works for many reasons, but here are three main benefits:
1. You don’t have to remember each small action because it’s written down and part of an established routine. This frees up your mind to worry about other parts of your day.
2. You can easily do these habits because they’re simple actions that don’t take a lot of brainpower to complete. All you need is a sequential checklist where each action becomes a prompt for the next one.
3. You can add or subtract actions based on what you need to do that day. So if you wake up one morning with a miles-long to-do list, then you can skip the habits that aren’t that important. Really, the only important thing is to do at least one of the habits in your stack. Consistency is key here!
Habit stacking can transform your life because you no longer worry about when you’ll complete those small but important actions. You simply add them to a routine and make that commitment to do them every day.
Furthermore, repeating the same positive actions daily can have an amazing impact on your long-term goals. In the book The Compound Effect, author Darren Hardy explains it best with a simple formula:
“Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE”
To demonstrate this concept, let me give you five examples of how simple actions can help you in any area of your life.
5 Examples of Small Actions
Want to write a book? Let’s say you only have a spare twenty minutes to write each day, producing an average of three hundred words. Most people would give up before even getting started because they’d make the “I don’t have enough time to write” excuse.
However, if you committed to just twenty minutes every day, you could produce 9,000 words a month, or a total of 108,000 words in a year. That’s enough time to write and fully edit a standard-size novel. Not bad at all for just a few minutes of your spare time.
Want to lose weight? You can maintain a food log and write down everything you eat. The core benefit here is accountability. When you know that you must record every item put into your mouth, you’ll skip the occasional sweet or piece of junk food. Repeat this process enough times and you’ll steadily lose weight—without going on a diet.
Want to improve your career success? One small habit is to start each day by identifying two or three priority tasks and then write them down on a Post-it note. These should be activities that have the biggest impact on your career. If you can begin the day with a focus on these items, you’ll do more “deep work” than the coworker who spends the first half hour answering emails or checking Facebook.
Want to improve your sales numbers? Start by organizing your prospect list in order of priority. Then begin your day by contacting the “hot leads” that need the most attention, and then work your way down the list to the dead leads or people who simply won’t respond to your phone calls.
Want to get more dates? You can do this by expanding your social network. One small habit that can help is to start a conversation with a new person every day. It could be a coworker, a person in class or even a perfect stranger. Sure, you might be rebuffed or rejected, but this will give you an increased level of confidence that talking to new people isn’t difficult.
These are just a handful of goal-specific actions that only require a small daily time investment. Imagine what your life would be like if you repeated this strategy for every area of your life. I guarantee you’d experience a major breakthrough.
So far, we’ve talked about habit stacking in vague terms. To help you understand what goes into one of these routines, let me provide an example from my current routine, and then we’ll dive into the rules for building your first stack.