Here’s how to use the simple concept of Habit Stacking to make space and sanity for what is important to you, starting with a single routine.
Because of the disruption of our routines caused by Covid-19, many of the old triggers for our habits–good and bad–are gone. But make no mistake! We still have routines. The question is, are they working for us?
In this blog post, I’m going to show you how an easy concept called habit stacking works to establish our routines, how Covid-19 has wrecked carnage on our habits, and how we can reclaim positive routines by consciously creating new habit stacks.
You Already Use “Habit Stacking”–But You Might Not Know It
If you’re an essential worker, what’s the first thing you do when you come home? Or if you’re in quarantine, what did you used to do?
Whether taking off your shoes, washing your hands, or walking to the refrigerator, I bet it was pretty consistent from day to day. That’s because, whether you realized it or not, walking in the door was your trigger for your next behavior. It’s one habit (walking in the door) linked to another habit (taking off your shoes, for example).
Each of us has built hundreds of mostly unconscious habit links in our “old” and current lives, like:
(old) Get Off Train For Work ⇒⇒⇒ Buy Coffee At Deli
(new) Upcoming Zoom Call ⇒⇒⇒ Check Hair
(old/new) Wake Up ⇒⇒⇒ Check Phone
(old/new) Open Computer ⇒⇒⇒ Check E-mail
But building these links consciously is one of the most powerful tools available to you and I to make sure that we spend our precious time doing what we really want to do. Habit guru James Clear calls this habit stacking–and it is a game changer!
Habit Stacks Reduce Dependence On Motivation
Motivation comes and goes. But routine behaviors in your life, like waking up, having coffee, or sitting down at a desk are consistent. By linking a desirable habit to something that happens anyway, we can reduce dependence on motivation.
Habit stacking really works! Over the years I’ve built habit stacks for everything from:
Stretching (Brush Teeth ⇒⇒⇒ Stretch Achilles Tendons)
Learning A Language (Walk To Work ⇒⇒⇒ Study Spanish)
Writing (Get On Train ⇒⇒⇒ Write Blogs)
So the first step to creating a powerful guitar practice habit (or any other habit) is to think of an everyday behavior to link it to.
For example, NYC Guitar School teacher Shane Chapman has played a Bach chorale every morning and night for the past 177 days by linking his Bach habit to things he does every day–waking up and washing his face!
Wake Up In The Morning ⇒⇒⇒ Practice Bach
Wash Face At Night ⇒⇒⇒ Practice Bach
Covid-19 Wrecked Carnage On Our Routines
After literally years of practicing Spanish and writing blog posts every weekday morning, guess what happened when I began sheltering-in-place?
If you guessed that my practice and writing routines suffered, you would be correct! Without my triggers of getting on the train, or walking out of Grand Central Station, my associated good habits went in the toilet.
Uh, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that for me living with other people 24/7 also can be distracting in both pleasant and frustrating ways.
That doesn’t make me a bad or unmotivated person. And if some of your routines fell apart, that doesn’t make you bad or unmotivated either. It makes both of us normal and human!
Use Habit Stacking To Create New And Effective Post-Corona Routines
But here’s where understanding how this habit stuff works comes in handy–knowing how triggers work gives us the opportunity to take control of our own animal responses.
For example, the world may be in upheaval, but I am so happy that I’m still able to drink coffee in the morning. And I’m also fortunate to have a desk. Voila, I have something to build a habit stack on!
My new writing routine:
Sit Down At Desk With Coffee In The Morning ⇒⇒⇒ Start Writing
Is there anything that you still do most every day?
How Would You Like To Remember This Time?
When you look back on this period in your life, what would you like to remember doing? Playing music? Exercising? Connecting with a friend? Working on a project with a family member?
How can you use habit stacking to link something you’re doing anyway with that something you want to do more of?
What You Already Do ⇒⇒⇒ What You Want To Do More Of
You’ve built a habit stack!
On To Greatness,
Founder, NYC Guitar School
PS If you have ideas, suggestions or requests, or if there is a way that I or NYC Guitar School can help or serve you in our fast changing world, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.