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Stacking Habits

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I think the trick to building habits is to do them early in the day.

Stacking habits works early in the morning– shower, shave, floss, etc– because they can be easily strung together. The fact that they all happen around the house makes it easier, too.

So I’ve been practicing adding activities into my morning habit, which is where I think they’re most likely to get done. So far, it’s been working. This includes reading, eating an apple, and as many things as I can manage to set up, one after the other.

Submitting to a schedule helps a lot too.

But the big problem is still getting up early. Try as I might, I can’t convince myself to become an early riser. But it turns out late risers might be more creative, so I guess that’s ok. :)

* Filed by Julien at 3:00 pm under random


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

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4 Responses to “Stacking Habits”

  1. Mike Billeter Says:

    I agree that getting into the right habits is a great way to get things done. I’ve especially found this true when I’m in a hurry. If I’ve got a good system in place, I can roll through things quickly and efficiently. Of course, if you aren’t adaptable, a kink in the habitual system can really throw things off too. Just depends on how you handle shifts and changes to the routine.

    Also, you always hear that the early bird gets the worm, but nobody ever mentions that the late-to-rise worm lives to see another day. And if science has proven that the late worm is even better off, I support it 100%.

  2. Whitney Says:

    There’s a concept I’ve been thinking a lot about lately that basically comes down to layering- in food, it’s about layering flavors together to add complexity, hit different flavor notes; in experiences, it’s about layering the familiar and unfamiliar to start moving people slowly towards something new and different; and with routines, it’s about making small changes, one at a time, until they become automatic.
    Some researchers have called these things Kinestetic melodies- that occur almost without thinking, almost like movements with and through music, where you mind detaches in part from the movement and routine, where the body keeps going, but the mind is calmed and freed up to do what it will- which is why some of the best ideas come during that morning shower.

    It’s interesting stuff. But I think the stacking and layering get to the same thing- order, routine, a plan that you can execute regardless, allowing you to sort and plan and start to find synergies before you even realize they’re there.

    Or not. Maybe I’m reading too much into this.

  3. Eric Jean Says:

    Grouping together things to do = the way to do it. It can be tough (I find) to set up, but worht it. Only drawback: if you don’t do one of the things, you often don’t do ANY of theme because they are all lumped in as one “unit.”

  4. CT Moore Says:

    That’s interesting, because I heard of many great writers and artists who were early birds. They’d do their best work in the early morning because there was nothing around to pollute their thoughts.

    Maybe the trick is also being an early sleeper. As the saying goes: “early to be and early to rise…”

    The creativity is there, just on a different schedule.

    P.S. growing a beard will seriously clear up some of your morning schedule…

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