The Decision-Making Saver: Habit Stacking
At some point in the day we run out of decision-making power. Sometimes we can get it back with rest of some kind, but other times we are simply out of power. “No! I cannot make a choice about dinner— I guess popcorn will have to do.”
One way to take out the decision-making process and reclaim the energy it takes to convince yourself to do something is to make it a habit. Habits simplify life. Imagine not having to convince yourself to go for a walk everyday because you’ve already put your walking shoes, which means you’re going.
This strange time warp we’ve fallen into (COVID) has made getting things done both easier and impossible. Habits that used to be weekday only have now become every day because the weekend doesn’t seem to exist anymore. And some behaviors that were triggered by leaving the house, like putting real pants on, simply don’t happen anymore.
Creating a new set of habits that fit your current lifestyle are key to keeping you in line with your goals. Stacking your habits is a great way to add new habits to your already existing routine. I learned about habit stacking from James Clear’s book Atomic Habits.
Steps to identify where you could stack a new habit:
- Take inventory of your current habits and routines.
- Take inventory of things that happen or happen to you everyday.
- Think of the habits you want to add. Would any of them be easy to tack on to an already existing habit?
- Use this sentence structure to set up a new stacked habit: Before or after an existing habit I will …
after I put on the kettle for tea I will practice tai chi while I wait
before I take a shower I will floss my teeth.
Habit stacking takes the thinking and resisting out of doing things you usually have to convince yourself to do. If you new habit doesn't begin to weave its way into your daily life try a different place or get more specific with your placement. To learn more read Atomic Habits by James Clear.
Habit Stacking Ideas
Vitamins — After I rinse out my coffee mug, I will fill it with water and take my vitamins.
Movement — After I make my morning beverage I will do 10 jumping jacks or take a one song dance break.
Sleep — After I get in bed/set my alarm for the morning, I will set my audiobook for 15 minutes, turn off the screen, and the light.
Gratitude — Before leaving the bathroom I will take five gratitude breaths. (Gratitude breaths are taking a breath in, pause and think of something or someone you’re grateful for, then breathing out.)
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