In today’s episode we dive into the simple yet powerful technique of habit stacking. Habits are the building blocks of our lives, and by stacking them together, we can create powerful routines that support our goals and aspirations in life and business. I cover how habit stacking works and provide practical tips and examples for incorporating it into your daily routine. I share the 4 steps you need to start habit stacking, as well as the top benefits of this practice. So join me as we explore this game-changing technique and learn how to make it work for you in your Virtual Assisting business.
So, you want to make a change to your routine. Maybe even several changes. You know what you want to do differently, but it might feel like too much to just switch everything up… I have the perfect solution for you! Meet your new best friend: habit stacking.
What is habit stacking, though? According to James Clear in the book Atomic Habits, it’s when you add a new habit on top of an existing habit. You tie the new habit to one you already have established with the goal of creating an association between the new and existing habit. The key to habit stacking is to keep your goal simple, actionable, and very specific! You’re likely to have more success with habit stacking if you’re adopting a behavior you really want to do. I am sure it’s not news to you when I tell you that it’s much easier to stick to your habits when you’re excited about them.
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Here’s how I use habit stacking every single day: while I drink my coffee, I read one chapter of my book. After I work out, I drink 12 ounces of water. After I respond to emails, I delete unneeded emails in my inbox. All of these combined habits mean that I accomplish a lot during the day, without having to think about every little responsibility all the time.
Here are the steps to use habit stacking effectively:
- Identify an existing habit: Start by identifying an existing habit that you already do consistently. It could be something as simple as making your bed every morning, staring up your laptop, opening up your email.
- Identify a new habit: Next, identify a new habit that you want to form. Make sure it’s a small habit that you can do immediately after the existing one.
- Stack the habits: Attach the new habit to the existing one. For example, you could attach the habit of doing ten squats immediately after making your bed, or attach the habit of deleting or filing emails after you read them, removing them from your inbox.
- Repeat the process: Keep repeating the process of habit stacking until you’ve built up a chain of new habits.
If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry. You don’t have to go stacking your habits all at once. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend doing that. It’s much more sustainable to stack your habits as you go. Once you feel confident that you’ve managed to integrate a new habit into your stack, add another! Whether that means you’re adding a new daily task or you’re creating a system to remind you to do a task monthly, habit stacking allows you to lean on your habits and routines to move you closer to your goals.
What do you think? Will you be trying habit stacking, or are you already a fan? Share with me in the comments.
[00:00:00] Melyssa: Hey there. Hello, welcome to today’s episode. We are going to be talking today, all about habit stacking. So, if you’re not familiar with habit stacking, don’t worry. I’m going to define it. I’m going to break it down into really simple terms. And I’m going to share why you think it’s something that you should be incorporating into both your life and business.
[00:00:19] Melyssa: Habit stacking it’s this really it’s almost deceptively simple, but it is a super powerful technique that involves attaching a new habit onto a habit that you already have. So it’s an existing habit. The concept is based on the idea that our brains are wired to create and follow patterns. I think everybody would agree to this. This is, you know, we get our kids on patterns. We get our babies with their naps. We get them going on a pattern, their body and their brains just go along with that.
[00:00:49] Melyssa: So by stacking a new habit on top of an existing habit, we can use that as leverage for our existing patterns to create new ones. And eventually, like you can create a whole [00:01:00] chain of habits. I learned about habit stacking from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, it’s a great book, I highly recommend it. I’ll put a link to it in the show notes.
[00:01:10] Melyssa: So just to be clear though, I’m not doing a book review here in this episode. I’m just sharing with you the concepts that he comes up with specifically for habit stacking. He also has really great advice on good habits versus bad habits, how to break the bad habits, but I’m not going to go into that in this episode.
[00:01:30] Melyssa: The book provides really practical and what I like is actionable advice for building good habits. And it’s all based on this premise that a small incremental change can have a significant impact on our business and lives over time. In the book, James Clear argues that the key to building good habits is to focus on the systems that support it, rather than relying on some sort of mindset or motivation or willpower alone.
[00:01:56] Melyssa: He introduces this concept of atomic habits, which are [00:02:00] tiny changes that when you repeat consistently and consistency is the key here, it leads to a significant improvement in our business in lives. So here is a simple illustration for you. If you have a habit of brushing your teeth every morning. Let’s let’s all agree that’s a great habit to have. You can attach a new habit. Say you want to do 10 pushups every morning. Immediately after brushing your teeth, you do those 10 pushups. You do this consistently every day. And by doing it every day and having that consistency, you’re leveraging that existing habit of brushing your teeth to form the new habit of exercising every morning.
[00:02:37] Melyssa: One of the things that I do really like about the book and that I agree with is that mindset is very important and that our beliefs and attitudes towards the habit and change can have a significant impact on our ability to form new habits. So the book really encourages readers to adopt a growth mindset and to focus on this process. That’s the important thing you’re [00:03:00] supposed to focus on the process of habit formation rather than just on the outcome. And I think that’s an important distinction that he makes is that it’s great.
[00:03:09] Melyssa: If you want to exercise more, if you’re like, I want to be in shape, I want to be in shape. I want to be in shape. That’s great. But what you need to focus on is that journey of how you are going to get in shape and exercise more, which is creating this chain of habits.
[00:03:25] Melyssa: The other thing that James Clear talks about with regards to habit stacking is the really importance of the environment in habit formation. So what he says is that if you make small changes to your environment, you’re going to make the good habits more convenient and they’re more likely to stick.
[00:03:46] Melyssa: An example for me is I really wanted to start drinking more water. I am the worst at drinking water, I wanted to make it super simple for myself and it also wanted to make it fun. So I ordered like, I didn’t [00:04:00] need a new water bottle, but I ordered a new water bottle. It’s a 32 ounce water bottle. It’s a purple my favorite color. I was able to put some fun stickers on it and I filled that up every morning. I have it right next to my laptop. It’s always in my line of sight and it’s easy. I don’t have to stop what I’m doing and go into the kitchen to drink water. It’s always there. It’s always right within arms length.
[00:04:21] Melyssa: And then the other thing I did was I bought another water bottle that I didn’t need another pretty teal color. And it’s a smaller water bottle that fits in my cup holder better. I would often forget when I would take the kids to school in the morning. And then later on when I would take them to their sports or other activities, I would just forget to bring my water from my office or kitchen or wherever into the car. So now I have a habit of filling up the second water bottle every morning. I put that in the car and I just leave it in the car for the entire day, because then whenever I got in the car to run whatever errands I’m running, I am more likely to drink more water because it’s right there, again, arms length, hands, reach, [00:05:00] whatever you want to say. And so then at the end of the day, I take it out and wash it and do all that good stuff, but I make sure that my environment has water at all times.
[00:05:09] Melyssa: Another simple thing, like a lifestyle change, if you want to make sure that you read more every day and maybe one of the best times for you to read as before bed, instead of leaving your book in your office or on a bookshelf somewhere, make sure you take the book and put it right on your nightstand so that when you go to bed in your environment within arms reach, is this book. So then maybe you know, want to read for 10 minutes every night and it’s right there. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing. You don’t have to leave the room. It’s just there. You’re making it easier for yourself. So really it’s the key. That I want to get across is that it needs to be simple and it needs to be accessible.
[00:05:45] Melyssa: Okay. Now I’m going to share a couple of steps to help you make habit stacking more effective. The first one is to identify an existing habit that you have. Start with this habit that is existing, that you’re already doing it consistently, [00:06:00] like your teeth brushing or your, and maybe you already have an exercise routine, but something that you can add onto, maybe you drink coffee every morning that you can add onto afterwards. It could be something very simple. It could even be making your bed. Then what’s a habit that you can add to after making your bed. After opening up your email after starting your laptop. Pick one of those consistent habits that you already have.
[00:06:26] Melyssa: And then for step two, you’re going to identify a new habit. So what’s something that you want to start? Make sure it’s a habit that you can do after one of the existing ones that we already identified in that previous step.
[00:06:38] Melyssa: Then for number three. The third step is to stack those habits. So attach the new habit to the existing one. For like a little life example, it could be you make your bed, then you do 10 squats. The existing habit is making your bed, the new habit that you want to start and that you want to leverage your existing habit is to do the [00:07:00] 10 squats.
[00:07:01] Melyssa: Maybe for your business, you want to commit to deleting or moving your emails into folders after reading them so that you keep your inbox at zero. I think that’s a great habit. That’s something I would love to do.
[00:07:13] Melyssa: And then the fourth step is to repeat that process. So you keep repeating the new habit that you are leveraging and using the existing habit for, and you keep repeating that until it’s just become a new habit in itself. And now you have this start of a chain of habits that’s just second nature. Whenever you brush your teeth or whenever you make your bed, you do those 10 squats. It’s just second nature, that’s now an existing habit that you can now add another habit onto and create that chain.
[00:07:47] Melyssa: Now you may be wondering why I’m talking about habit stacking, what it means, why it matters. I think that there are several benefits. I think it makes forming new habits a lot easier. Starting a new [00:08:00] habit from scratch can be really challenging. And so by attaching this new habit to the existing one, you’re just making life a little bit easier and your brain is already trained on that existing habit. So it’s more likely that the second habit will quote unquote catch on easier.
[00:08:16] Melyssa: Number two. It definitely saves time. How about stacking allows you to combine two or more habits, and then you save time in that process. For example, when I talked about the emails, if you’re deleting emails and moving your emails into folders, as you’re reading them, you’re combining these two steps rather than looking at your emails, leaving them on the inbox, and then later having to come through, remember what the email was about and whether you need to delete it or save it into a specific folder. So you’re definitely cutting down on the time that that task takes. And cutting down on time, definitely helps with our productivity.
[00:08:53] Melyssa: Thirdly, it helps build momentum. One of the biggest advantages of habit stacking is that it’s almost [00:09:00] like that snowball effect by starting with a small habit and then stacking them onto each other for that chain, you gradually build up to more significant habits.
[00:09:09] Melyssa: If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry. I don’t recommend you start with a ton of habits to stack onto existing habits. I wouldn’t recommend doing that at all. It’s much more sustainable if you stack your habits as you go. So once you’re feeling confident that you’ve managed the first little habit thing you added, then you can integrate new habits into there. And then again, it’s the snowball effect. So whether that means you’re adding a new task daily, or you’re creating a system to remind you to do that task monthly. Whatever it may be about habits stacking allows you to lean on your habits and routines. To move you closer to your goals and getting closer to our goals is just amazing. Right?
[00:09:49] Melyssa: So that’s our episode for today. I hope if you have never heard about habit stacking, I hope you learned something new and that this is something that you’re going to incorporate into your life and business. [00:10:00] Maybe you have heard about it, but you had kind of forgotten. Maybe you needed a refresher and you’re going to incorporate this into your business and life.
[00:10:09] Melyssa: I would love to hear about any great takeaways that you had or any new habits that you are going to be creating and stacking onto your existing habits. If you would screenshot this episode and share it, and your stories tag me at @melyssamunday, or at @mamasmakingmore, that would also spread the word to other mamas that they too can have an online business as a virtual assistant and have massive flexibility while bringing in an amazing income. Thank you for sharing.