Stacking Habits

We have habits and routines that we follow every day, some multiple times a day. Whatever the reason we have these habits they have one thing in common, we just do them. There is little thinking involved.

When it comes to developing a healthy habit, such as incorporating more movement into your day, it can be hard to just do it. We all know that simply saying you are going to do something does mean it will happen.

habit stacking

Behavior scientists, psychologist, and health coaches alike agree that a great way to adopt a new habit is to “stack it” onto a current habit. The idea is that the first habit will be the trigger for you to do the second habit and soon it too will become mindless.

First: Pick a habit that is already in place, that you do weekly, daily or more.

Second: Pair this habit with a healthy habit that you want to adopt into your regular routine.

To make this most affective, start small and be specific with the new habit(s).


  • Trigger habit= I brush my teeth every night

New habit= every night after brushing my teeth I will do 10 sit ups and 5 pushups

  • Trigger habit= pouring myself a cup of coffee in the office at my breaks

New habit= after pouring my coffee, I will fill up my water bottle and drink half before having any coffee

  • Trigger habit= fixing myself a snack when I get home from work every night

New habit= after fixing my snack I will prepare my lunch for the next day

You can then build on the small new habits as they become routine and an easy addition to your day. For the examples above this may mean increasing the number of pushups after teeth brushing or prepping lunch AND breakfast after your snack.

Or, add on another habit to the original; stacking on not just one, but several new habits to the trigger habit; after pouring my coffee in the break room and drinking half my water bottle I will also walk up and down the stairs twice before returning to my desk.

What new healthy habits would you like to adopt? Try our the stacking method and see if you can’t make a some meaningful, sustainable changes to your daily routine. 

Source: Kim Painter, USA Today “Want to adopt a healthy new habit? ‘Stack’ it” August 25, 2015.


3 thoughts on “Stacking Habits

  1. This is great!! I love the picture too.

  2. I love this Habit stacking! I actually did the water before coffee all last spring …..must get back to it….and add one…Thank you!

  3. This is strange. I just got this today on my email. Love it!!

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