'Habit Stacking' Could Be The Secret To Accomplishing Everything On Your To-Do List

We all have a list of things we need to get done, whether it's on our phones or in our heads. Some to-do items are just so tedious or seem so insurmountable that we put them off while our list just grows longer and longer. While we may be tempted to procrastinate, the more we put things off, the more our brains get hard-wired to sweep things under the rug. Bad habits are easy to make, but what if there was a way to turn them into an effective process?


Try habit stacking, a technique where you combine something that you are already conditioned to do with something you want to do. Building new habits take time, and if you were to try to start a new one by itself, you might lose motivation if you forget for a day. However, if you link it to one that you do without thinking, such as taking your shoes off as soon as you step inside your house, the new habit will start becoming automatic as well. Don't set yourself up for failure, though. Start your new habit stacking with a small goal in mind.

Take small steps to reach a big goal with habit stacking

Trying anything new for the first time can be daunting, so start off with a small task you've been meaning to make a habit out of. For example, you won't want to say to yourself, "I want my house to be clean all the time." Instead, after you brush your teeth every morning, tell yourself you'll wipe down the sink area afterward. Since we're already conditioned to brush our teeth, we can simply stack on a new habit to go along with it and associate brushing our teeth with cleaning our sinks. If you have a slew of texts you've been meaning to answer, make a habit of replying to just two of them before you've had your coffee.


Much of what we do is through a repetitive process. Simply put, the more we do something, the easier it becomes for us to do it without thinking. We don't build habits overnight, but creating routines is what leads to change in the long run. Keep yourself motivated by thinking about the big picture. If your goal is to have a cleaner house, stack each of your daily habits with a different chore. Rather than cleaning for three hours, you'll be tidying up throughout the day. Once you've mastered stacking two habits, you can create a bigger chain of intentions.

Stack three or more habits together to be more productive

If your new habit is becoming more like second nature, it's perfectly fine to tack on a new task in between. For example, if you're now used to taking a shower and reading a chapter of a book before bedtime, you can add micro-meditating for 10 minutes after you're done showering. If your morning routine is to check your emails first thing and then walk your dog, you can spend five minutes journaling before letting Fifi do her business.


A great way to keep on track is to make a list of your daily habits that are already established, like eating breakfast and washing your hands when you get home from work. Next, make a list of things you want to become habits, such as becoming fitter. However, it shouldn't be a vague task like "exercise every day." Make it a specific, actionable function, such as doing 20 pushups while your coffee is brewing or walking one mile with your dog after lunch. Soon, your new habits will become second nature, and your to-do list won't seem so daunting at all.