#LifeHacks: Habit Stacking

According to James Clear in his book Atomic Habits, habit stacking “…is a special form of an implementation intention. Rather than pairing your new habit with a particular time and location, you pair it with a current habit.”

The formula for this is:

After/Before [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].

For example: “After each writing session, I will make notes detailing what I would I would like to accomplish in the next session.”

I have no problem sitting down to write almost every day. I belong to an amazing writing community on Facebook which runs live writing sprints daily. Because of these sprints, my writing habit has gone from erratic to regular. Monday through Friday, I sprint in two-to-three hour blocks at at least once each day, sometimes two or three times. I also write on the weekends, sometimes with the sprinting groups, sometimes on my own. 

Another habit I would like to implement is keeping a writing journal in which I keep track of what I write during each session, any problem areas I encounter in my story, plot bunnies, things that need researching, areas where I need to go back and add dialogue or details, etc. The perfect time to do this is after each writing session, but I’ve been trying to do it at night when I write in my gratitude journal. That ends up being a time suck because I have to go back and review everything I’ve written that day. If I can get into the habit of doing it immediately after writing, before I move on to something else, everything will be fresh in my mind and it will save me time. Going forward, I will be making a conscious effort to stack this new habit onto my existing writing habit. I’ve even added it to my planner. After each “Writing Sprints” block, I’ve added “Writing Journal”. I’ll post an update later and let you know how this works out for me.

Another habit I would like to get back into is logging food. I have two ideas about how to approach this: Do it like my bestie Christine does and log all my food for the next day each evening. That way, I don’t have to think about it during the day. I can just check my app and see what I’ve planned to eat for each meal. The other option is to log my food before I eat each meal. There are pros and cons for each option but I’m currently leaning towards Christine’s method. This will take more upfront planning than I have time for this week as I’m traveling, so I will be starting that next Monday. My habit stack will look something like this:

“After dinner each night, I will plan and log my meals for the next day.”

Do you practice habit stacking, or are you interested in giving it a try? If so let me know in the comments or join the conversation on Instagram.

You can buy the book Atomic Habits by James Clear at your favorite indie book shop, on James Clear’s website, and Barnes and Noble.

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