My Habit Stacking Routine (11 Small Actions)

As we’ve discussed, a habit stack is unique to the individual. In fact, I don’t think it’s a good idea to copy exactly what someone else does because we all have different goals. That said, I feel it’s important for you to see an example of how this strategy works, while explaining the mindset behind each small action. In this section, we’ll go over my habit stacking routine.

If you read the first edition, then you might notice that some of my habits are completely different now. That’s because I’m now married and have an eleven-month-old son, whom I have to take care of each morning. So my goals, tasks, and overall schedule have definitely changed in the three years since publishing the previous edition.

With that out of the way, let’s go over the eleven small habits that I complete for my morning stack. For each example, I’ve included a brief description of why it’s personally important, how long it takes to complete, and what “goal category” it fulfills.

Habit 1: Weigh Myself

Time required: One minute

Goal fulfilled: Health

The first thing I do in the morning is go into the bathroom and weigh myself. This is a support habit because it’s related to my long-long-term goal of completing fifty marathons in fifty states (eighteen down, thirty-two to go!). Each year I try to complete two or three of these races. This means I need to carefully monitor my weight to make sure I’m near my target weight for each race: 165 to 170 pounds (or 75 to 77 kilograms).

This daily weigh-in acts as accountability for my snacking tendencies. Knowing I must step onto a scale each morning is often the one thing that’ll prevent me from enjoying too many chips, cookies, or the “pint of no return.”

Habit 2: Fill up a 32-Ounce Bottle with Lemon Water

Time required: One minute

Goal fulfilled: Health

After the weigh-in, I’ll walk downstairs into my kitchen and pour thirty-two ounces of ice-cold water with lemon into a Contigo water bottle. Why lemon? Because it promotes hydration, is a good source of vitamin C, and supports weight loss. Why the thirty-two-ounce bottle of water? Because it helps me stay on top of my daily water intake. I know drinking two of them throughout the day will give me the basic amount of water that people typically require.

Habit 3: Start a Kettle of Tea

Time required: One minute

Goal fulfilled: Relationships

My wife loves a nice cup of tea in the morning. So, I’ll start a kettle, which is usually ready by the time I complete the next habit. That way, by the time my wife comes downstairs, she has a steaming cup ready for her.

Remember: Sometimes it’s the small things that count when it comes to strengthening a relationship.

Habit 4: Do the Dishes

Time required: Five minutes

Goal fulfilled: Organizing

I’m a firm believer in the “broken windows theory,” as discussed in Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, which referenced an article published by social scientists James Wilson and George Kelling in 1982.

The point of this article is that the small cosmetic damages in a neighborhood can lead directly to large negative social issues. In other words, broken windows, trash on the street, and other cosmetic signs of urban blight lead to increased crime, antisocial behavior, and all sorts of other crimes.

What’s funny is you can apply the broken windows theory to your daily life. By making small cosmetic changes to your routines, it’s not hard to create an atmosphere that prevents a feeling of stress and overwhelm.

I feel the broken windows theory can be applied to your home and workspace. If you’re surrounded by piles of clutter, it can have a negative impact on your mood or even your overall attitude toward the day.

So, even though “doing the dishes” isn’t a life-altering habit, it’s a small action that’s both meditative and relaxing. In fact, usually while I’m doing the dishes, I’ll think about the important tasks that I have to accomplish that day.

Habit 5: Review My Quarterly Goals

Time required: Two minutes

Goal fulfilled: All (since I have a goal for each area of my life)

A daily goal review is important because it’s a quick way to gauge whether my planned tasks for the day directly align with my plans for the next few months. This review acts as a reminder to stick with my goals, plus it helps me avoid any “shiny objects” that might become a distraction.

Habit 6: Identify Three Priority Tasks in Todoist

Time required: Three minutes

Goal fulfilled: Career

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you have dozens of planned tasks. That’s why I like to start each day by working on the three most important tasks.

These activities have the biggest impact on my business, so I make sure to create a plan for completing them before anything else. When I’ve identified these priority items, I’ll add them to the Todoist app and create a reminder that they are important. (For more on this, be sure to check out the Todoist tutorial that’s part of the companion website.)

Habit 7: Write in the Freedom Journal

Time required: Five minutes

Goal fulfilled: Career and spirituality

Journaling can have an amazing impact on your success. When you write down your thoughts, fears, and current challenges, you have a chance to gain clarity on what’s truly important. It’s a mindfulness habit that helps you make effective decisions on your daily actions. The tool that I prefer is The Freedom Journal.

The Freedom Journal was launched in 2016 by John Lee Dumas, a popular entrepreneur and podcaster. While journaling is completely optional to the learning process, I recommend it because it can help you focus on a single major goal and work at it for the next one hundred days. The journal will help you stay on track and make sure that you’re hitting all the important milestones for your career.

Habit 8: Review My Personal Capital Account

Time required: Two minutes

Goal fulfilled: Finance

Moving from journaling to this habit signifies the unofficial start of my “computer time” for the day. The first thing I always like to check is my Personal Capital account.

Personal Capital is a service that syncs all your investments, which tracks your growth and gives you an accurate “net worth” number. I like to review my account daily because it gives me a solid look at my current financial situation, which I can use to make small decisions about how I’m spending and where I’m investing my money.

Habit 9: Analyze One Real Estate Investment Property

Time required: Five minutes

Goal fulfilled: Leisure and Finance

Real estate investing is a skill I’d like to master in the next five years. The one thing I’ve learned recently is you need to regularly analyze investment deals—even when you’re not ready to make a purchase. This daily action prepares me for those occasional moments when I see a good property and need to take immediate action.

This small action is straightforward. Each day, I load my preferred website to find investment properties and then analyze the numbers of one deal. This means calculating the purchase price, how much the tenant is currently paying, property taxes, and home insurance. Almost always, this “back-of-the-napkin math” tells me that a property isn’t the right fit. But every few weeks, I’ll come across a hidden gem that might be worth pursuing.

Habit 10: Manage Book Marketing Campaigns

Time required: > Five minutes

Goal fulfilled: Career

The second-to-last habit is also the most time-consuming. It’s also the point where I make the transition from morning routine into “work mode.” At this point, I’ll go to three sites that are used to promote my books: BookBub Ads, Amazon Marketing Services, and Amazon Associates.

The goal here is to track the success of the previous day’s book marketing campaigns and then make small adjustments to improve my return on investment (ROI).

Since this habit requires a technical explanation, I’ll keep it simple by saying that this habit is completed by punching numbers into an Excel spreadsheet, then comparing how much money I’ve spent on a campaign versus how much I’ve earned.

If I see a positive ROI (i.e., the campaign is profitable), then I’ll increase its expenditures. But if I see a negative ROI, then I’ll either tweak the ad or pause the entire campaign.

This small habit is probably one of my most important because it helps me scale my author business by reaching new readers. Like many of the strategies discussed throughout this book, it’s often the littlest actions that have the biggest impact on your career and personal life.

Habit 11: Prepare a Smoothie Drink

Time required: Five minutes

Goal fulfilled: Health

We’ve all heard about the benefits of juicing and starting your day with a powerful shake, but sometimes it’s a hard habit to remember. So, the last thing I do before diving into work is to grab a bunch of ingredients, throw them into my Nutribullet, and then prepare a delicious smoothie that I’ll drink during the first few minutes of my workday.

I often mix up different recipes, but I like to make ones that include proteins, fruits, vegetables, potassium, and antioxidants. Really, my choice in a smoothie depends on my mood that day and what ingredients are available. (If you’re interested in seeing some of the ones that I typically drink, you can check out the NutriLiving website and app, which are part of the NutriBullet brand.)

End with a Keystone Habit

We’ve talked about the importance of “keystone habits,” which are any action that has a positive impact on multiple areas of your life. The reason I’m mentioning it again is I always like to complete my habit stacking routine by immediately diving into my top keystone habit—writing.

Writing helps me clear my mind (spirituality), generate income (career), and reduce stress (health). So I prefer to start the day with this habit because I can harness the energetic state generated from the habit stacking routine and then use it to start my most important task with a bang!

Now, writing is how I prefer to start the day. You, on the other hand, might want to focus on something different. The point here is that when you complete a habit stacking routine, you can build “emotional momentum” that has a positive spillover effect on your next few actions. My advice is to pick the one keystone habit that has the biggest impact on your life.

Well, that’s my routine. Now let’s shift gears and start talking about you. In the next section, I’ll dive into the simple rules for building your first stacks.