And after that? (can habit stacking save the day?)Aug 11, 2022
Before I go to bed…I check my schedule for the next day. And after that…
- I set up my meditation space for the morning
- I make sure I’m logged into to my zoom account and have the link to my morning group meditation practice ready
- I check the battery life in my devices for morning practice and have the cords nearby (in case)
- I button up my place: lock the doors, pick things up, and adjust the lights, ending in the kitchen
- I turn on my kettle
- While the kettle is going, I brush my teeth and clean my face
- After I brush and wash, perfect timing, I put hot water in my thermos
- I take a couple of sips
- I put it on my end table next to my bed
- If it’s that day, I take a bath. Otherwise, I wash my feet with cold water for 3 min
- I put on pjs
- I say goodnight to my significant other
- I do my Duolingo Spanish (I like to go to bed in Spanish)
- I turn off the lights, lie on my back and focus on my breath…
When I wake up…I lie on my back and place my hands on my solar plexus. And after that…
- I come to my breath as I listen to and silently chant mantra
- I get up, make my bed, then do my bathroom routine
- I go back into my bedroom, sip my warm water and change into yoga clothes
- I meditate
- At 5:59 am, I join my community in group meditation practice
- I write for an hour (until 7:30-ish am)
- I move, I exercise
- I clean myself up
- I turn on my kettle and look at my schedule for today
- I feed Lou (my dog), take my supplements, and prepare tea
- I drink my tea and read for inspiration or to learn something new or deeper.
- I walk Lou and talk to my significant other
- I put on binaural sounds and open my laptop (it’s 9/9:30 am)
These are my habit stacks.
What's a habit stack?
To habit stack is to attach your desired habits to established ones. It increases your chances at success in both breaking the old and establishing the new.
They don’t have to be as long as mine. For instance, if you want to remember to take your supplements every morning, and you have a solid habit of serving yourself coffee when you wake up (and you don't plan on getting rid of this habit), you have a short and effective habit stack in the making:
Before I pour my cup of coffee, I’ll take my supplements. Or...
While my coffee is brewing, I’ll have some water and my supplements
(It also helps to make the new home for your supplements right next to your coffee pot and keep a cup of water next to them as well. Listen, I know.)
I habit stack my entire morning and bedtime routines because I need them.
Habit stacking for flexibility
You can bet, almost every time, this is how my mornings and evenings go no matter what time zone I’m in and what crazy thing is going on in my life. I can technically do this on “autopilot,” which is how I know my habits are well established. Things may move around because my son is home from school, I’m on vacation, I’m compelled to write more that day, or I’m out late with friends one evening… but they don’t change much.
To say that habit stacking sounds a bit rigid would be akin to suggesting that since I’m on vacation, or have been working so hard, maybe I should give myself a break and skip brushing my teeth, washing my hands, or taking a shower for a little while... I wouldn’t consider dropping those things because I'd feel gross and a little bit shy and insecure from it. Same thing. In fact, as habit-stacked as I am, I experience more flexibility, flow, and good luck in my life from it. The consistent nature of habits delivers a greater sense of ease contained in its reliability and trustworthiness.
Another amazing benefit is that my habit stacks allow me to show up for myself first, which helps me show up for others without having to over-manage my own needs because they've been taken care of. Which means I can be more present. Which equates to a more joyful day. Some of the above bullet points in my habit stack take less than a minute, but they make a world of difference in priming me to experience a more connected, fulfilled life.
Habit stacking for creativity
On the days that I review my calendar and routines for the upcoming week(s), I assess how well my habit stacks are working for me, and I adjust a few things so I don’t go into full get-lost-on-autopilot mode. This may seem like a lot of time and effort put into this sort of minutia, but it ultimately saves a ton of time and energy: I don’t have to think about what I’m doing next when it matters most and when my will power is most likely to wane: right when I wake up in the morning and as I settle into bed at night. With habit stacking, I don’t exhaust myself negotiating with my mood nor with others, and as my habits become more established, the easier it all becomes. This is my sacred routine. This is my anchor.
My creative energy is reserved for when it’s time to get creative. Like writing. Or finding solutions. Or coming up with ideas on what my friend and I can do when we meet. With habit stacking, there’s time and energy to get creative because I’m not spending them figuring out how to restart my day on a better footing and shaming myself in the process.
By the time I open my laptop at 9 am, my mind is on my side, my body feels good, and I’m full. This doesn’t mean happy things happen to me all day and that I don’t experience hardship, I do. But I feel centered, willing to step forward, a little bit playful, and in my fullness.
P.S. - the links above go to a tutorial on how to calendar, which can be a great place to start if you’re working on managing your entire day. If you’re interested in only one simple change, like “I want to start writing everyday for 30 min,” it’s incredibly helpful to calendar that in, and also stack that new desired habit with an established one that happens around the time you want to write. Hope this helps. Give it a try! 😇