I bet you already have several habit stacks in your life, you just didn’t know you were doing them!
(Look at you, already ahead of the curve!)
For example, anytime you’re in your office working and hear a strange noise from the other room, do your ears perk up as you ask your kids “what was that?!”
Or what about when you sit down at your desk each morning? I’m guessing you have a few tasks you do first, maybe you check your schedule and then your email to get a feel for your day.
Both of those are examples of habit stacks.
Put simply, a habit stack is taking a behavior and putting it before, during, or after another behavior (habit) we already do.
Why We Stack
The idea of habit stacking isn’t anything new, it’s a ‘hack’ that our brains figured out a long time ago. It’s a way for our brain to save time and energy by skipping the decision making process and streamlining things – and who doesn’t love efficiency??
Take, for example, when you make your morning coffee – you do it in the same order with the same steps each time, right?
Imagine the flip side if our brains didn’t do us this favor: Each morning you’d have to first decide to make your coffee. Then you’d have to focus on the steps of putting the filter in place, measuring out the coffee and water for your desired cup of joe, pressing the “start” button, getting out your cup, etc.
There are so many steps to making coffee, but because our brains are wired for efficiency, we save ourselves the energy by stacking each behavior on the one before it. Because your brain doesn’t have to think about it, you can think about other things, multitask, or just let your thoughts wander. But your attention doesn’t have to be solely focused on the process of making your coffee.
You can use your existing behaviors, habits and routines to implement the habits and routines you WANT to build into your days… things like moving your body more.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend hours at the gym to get healthier. All it takes is moving your body more throughout the day and watching your results add up.
Using the basic habit stack formula of:
After/During/While [existing habit], I will [new habit]
we can begin designing our habit stacks.
And the beauty of habit stacking, now that you know how it works, is that you can stack nearly any behavior, provided you have a behavior/habit we want to stack it with. And because you’re working on your business and your family, there are a LOT of things you routinely do, meaning you have a lot of stacking opportunities.
Here are a few examples of habit stacking you can start implementing today:
- Be active while your morning coffee brews. Since you don’t have to think about making coffee anymore, you can do other things like crunches, squats, jumping jacks, or dancing around your kitchen while your coffee brews. You’ll be surprised at just how long it takes – a few minutes of crunches ends up being a LOT more than you’d think!
- The restroom habit stack – anytime you use the restroom, do 2 push ups (or any exercise you want). Assuming you stay hydrated throughout the day, you could end up doing 20 or more push ups throughout the day, without even noticing!
- Working from home as you build your business and family means you can do a few things that would normally seem goofy in an office setting… things like doing lunges from your office to the kitchen and back each time you refill your water bottle or grab a snack.
- It’s obvious how social media can become a major time vacuum, so we can use habit stacking to not only reduce our scrolling, but also get moving while we do! Making a habit stack like, “while I’m scrolling, I will march in place,” will accomplish both at the same time.
- If you’re like me, you get countless messages each day – emails, messenger, texts, Voxer, Slack, etc. So why not stack those messages? You can take any part of that repeated action (like pressing “send” on a message) and adding a movement (like a leg raise) as you’re seated at your desk. Your habit stack becomes “after I press end, I will raise my legs.” Watch after a few weeks how much easier it becomes and your legs begin feeling stronger.
- GET CREATIVE!! Use the habit stacking formula to take any routine thing you do, whether in business or in life, and attach some movement to it.
As you get better at your habit stacks or they become easier, you can always increase the reps or you can stack something else for an added challenge.
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