Ever wanted to create a new habit, routine or change in your life but you just can’t get it to stick? Yep, we’ve all been there.
There are a plethora of techniques to get a habit to stick, including practising it for 21 days – but what if you just can’t get into a routine or forget all about it?
This is where habit stacking and intention cueing comes in.
What is habit stacking?
Habit stacking is the practise of taking an existing habit you’ve got and grafting a new habit onto it. I use this technique myself and with my clients alongside intention cueing for the best chances of success.
Intention cueing is when you keep something at the forefront of your mind/vision to encourage you to adopt the habit.
I’ve used both of these methods for myself and clients to implement a variety of habits including drinking more water, starting a skin care routine, watering plants, reading more, doing their accounts, networking, posting on social media etc. It’s really easy to adapt this for whatever habit you want.
It’s one of the best productivity tips I use because it just makes life easier on the whole. It reduces guilt around wanting to adopt new habits and it just improves everything. It’s basically gaming your brain to make it easier for yourself, and this is a game you’re going to win!
Why does it work?
Visual prompts are golden when it comes to building habits, which is a form of intention cueing. Say you want to use more hand cream but you keep the cream in a drawer, in your vanity, in your bedroom. Think about where you spend the most time and place the cream there – you’ll find yourself reaching for it just because it’s there and before you know it, it’s a habit.
This also works really well with drinking more water. If you make it a routine to fill your water bottle at the same time as you make your morning coffee and then put the bottle on your desk, you’re likely to reach for it.
Habit stacking and intention cueing work because as humans we’re lazyyyyyyyyyy. If you’re thirsty and you could either get up and go get a can of pop, or just grab the water bottle right in front of you, which are you more likely to choose? The water bottle every time.
Our brains are so overworked and fraught with thoughts that the less decisions we have to make the better. And habit stacking with intention cueing makes light work of all that.
How to put habit stacking into practise
The first step is to think about the types of habits you want to build – it’s best to do one at a time for around a month before grafting another one on. Overwhelm when starting new habits is a real thing, it’s why so many people burn out when doing their new years resolutions.
The next step is to think about the existing habits you have that fit with the time of day you’d like to adopt the new habit. They don’t have to be intentional existing habits, just things that you do without really thinking.
Then mash em together. Doesn’t have to be the most elegant solution, it’s just until it’s stuck in your brain and becomes muscle memory.
Let’s use a couple of really basic examples:
Desired Habit: Using reusable shopping bags
Existing Habit: Grabbing your keys, phone and purse when you leave the house
Methodology: This one is ace if you keep your keys/ purse in the same place. Simply put the reusable bags in the same place as them and pick them up at the same time. If you don’t keep your essentials in the same place, can you pop a sign by the door so when you lock it you remember to pick them up?
Desired Habit: Taking stuff upstairs with you
Existing Habit: Walking up the stairs
Methodology: I was once told a great piece of advice which was “Never step foot on the stairs without something in your hands because there’s always something that needs bringing upstairs or downstairs”. I don’t know about you but before this stack I used to pile stuff up at the bottom of the stairs and take it up all at once. The mistake I made was putting it at the bottom where we could still walk round it. The habit stack I did was making it inconvenient for myself by putting them right in the middle of the steps so that walking around them was way more effort than just carrying it up with me. (Use this one with caution if you’ve got tiny people).
What types of habits will it work with?
With a bit of clever thinking you can hack your life to make it work for any habit and pick up habits left and right and centre.
I’m yet to find a habit I can’t apply this methodology to and integrate it into a routine.
It’s a brilliant problem solver, reduces so much stress and just makes life that tiny bit easier.
What habits do you want to stack?