How To Supercharge Your Day With Habit Stacking!
Many of us want to get more out of the day. Developing as individuals, improving on our strengths and productivity, are all desirable. And starting your day with a routine that works for you is often cited as the key to this kind of super productivity. Introducing habit stacking – the concept that will supercharge your day!
What Is Habit Stacking?
Habit stacking is a term that is all about grouping together a series of positive habits into a routine. The idea goes that by batching habits together, we can more easily develop and sustain them, as we associate good habits and tasks with each other. An example might include the way we wash our face and brush our teeth before bed – those two habits go together, and we automatically remember them and batch them together.
How Does This Work/What Are The Benefits?
The big benefit of stacking behaviours in this way is that you can organise habits in a way that is logical and fits around your day already – it turns habits into a routine where you don’t have to think of them individually as much, you simply do them automatically in clusters.
This anchors the habits to existing triggers that you have. For instance, if you wake up and shower, this then triggers 10 minutes of meditation, which triggers reading 10 pages of a book, etc. One behaviour can be used to trigger the next.
This eliminates the chances of procrastination. All the healthy habits you envisage for your day are batched into groups. It’s good to start by breaking your day into chunks (e.g., morning, lunchtime, returning home, evening). Then, you can start to pair together behaviours that are important and chain them together to maximise your day.
Part of the power of habit stacking comes from the fact that we need to build synapses to facilitate behavioural change. By creating the conditions for these synapses to build, you find the healthy behaviours becoming more and more automatic and habitual.
This is powerful because an adult human being has 41% of the neurons in their brain compared with a newborn baby (According to Oxford University research, 2007).
Behavioural psychologist James Clear says:
"Your brain prunes away connections between neurons that don't get used and builds up connections that get used more frequently. Synaptic pruning occurs with every habit you build as your brain builds a strong network of neurons to support your current behaviours. The more you do something, the stronger and more efficient the connection becomes."
How Do I Do It?
- Divide up your day into sections and think about what activities best suit which part of your life as it stands. Start by creating stacks associated with different chunks of your day.
- Start small and pick one part of your day to focus on first. Chain 2-3 habits together initially.
- Choose a strong anchor to begin with, that is something you already do. For instance, after your shower or breakfast or when you get home from work. Insert your new habit directly after this anchor.
- Keep the habit you introduce small as well – in other words, if you want to incorporate meditation, don’t try to start doing an hour of meditation if you have never meditated before or start running 10k immediately, if you are unconditioned. Just a few minutes or a 20 minute walk a day will start getting your body and brain used to the new habit, fighting off synapse pruning. You can then gradually increase and improve as you progress.
Where to Start? - Win the morning win the day!
So now you know what habit stacking is, you might be wondering what kinds of habits are good to start off with, so you can get on your way to supercharging your day.
As mentioned above, most of us already stack habits every morning without realising it, when we shower, brush our teeth and get ready to start our day. Since we already have these morning anchors, it makes sense to capitalise on them.
Why not give these a try and see how you get on?
- Drink some water
If you aren’t already doing it, drink a big glass of water in the morning. This is a pretty simple thing that we should all be doing when we wake up, as we are often dehydrated in the morning. A glass of water will not only help wake you up and make you feel more alert, but it will also kick start your digestive system and help clear out any toxins that have built up in your body overnight.
After you’ve given your body that kickstart, it’s time to wake up your mind!
A bit of mental stimulation is great in the mornings, they tend to be the quietest part of the day with the least number of distractions, which makes them a great time to read, meditate or journal.
Journaling in the morning is a perfect opportunity to set your intentions for the day, reflect on the day before or write down a few things you are grateful for.
You could also use your journal as a kind of “brain dump” where you get everything that’s on your mind down on the page. This is a very therapeutic exercise that can help clear your head of any thoughts that have been rattling around in there from the day before.
There are so many ways to journal that we could write a whole other blog post on it, but like all habits, experimentation is key, so have a play around and find a way that you enjoy and that brings you the most benefit!
The quiet of the morning is also a great time to read. If you want to read more, but you struggle to make the time, set yourself the goal of reading just 10 pages every morning. 10 pages doesn’t sound like a lot, and it will only take you between 10 and 20 minutes depending on your reading speed, but when you do it every day you will find yourself powering through that reading list that you’ve been struggling to find the time for.
Some people find it beneficial to use that quiet time in the morning for some meditation, especially if you know you have a busy day coming up. It can help calm your mind, clear away any negative emotions you might be feeling, and help lower your stress levels.
The key to meditation is to have patience with yourself, and remember it is a skill that gets easier the more you do it.
It’s called a meditation “practice” for a reason!
Find Your Way
Remember these are just 3 examples of how you can add a new habit into your morning routine, and since you are a unique individual, you’ll want to play around with these and find what works for you.
Just make sure you are introducing these habits slowly and establish one before you add in another. If you’re not a morning person, we wouldn’t advise that you to try waking up an hour earlier to read, meditate and journal all in one go after your shower, as you will probably find it hard to make these habits stick.
It was Aristotle who said:
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
Good habits are the key to unlocking a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. By building the synapses that make our behaviours more automatic, it’s easier to remain consistent and ensure that the good effects of our behaviours are felt long term – not just for the short term until we get sick of it, forget, or start to procrastinate again!
Use habit stacking to build these positive changes in your life in a way that works with human psychology. Sticking to the habits that we stack together is important for seeing our health improve and building upon these good habits makes it easier for us to make consistent change and live our lives to the fullest over time.