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Jens R. Woinowski

Quality Insider

Habit Stacking

In a nutshell

Published: Monday, June 9, 2014 - 16:28

I recently stumbled upon the book by S.J. Scott, Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less (Archangel Ink, 2014). The concept is very simple, but powerful. Instead of a classical review, this is an “in a nutshell” version.

The idea of habit stacking is this:
1. You can use a “habit stack” for small habits (actions) that you can either do or not, but you cannot divide (think brushing your teeth).
2. “Small” means it takes anywhere between one and five minutes, give and take.
3. A habit stack is a checklist of habits that fit into 15 to 30 minutes.
4. Start with a small list (let’s say five items and 15 minutes).
5. You perform the actions on that checklist daily.
6. The checklist keeps you from forgetting things
7. By cramming the habits into this short time frame you increase your productivity enormously.

Here is what S.J. Scott writes:
"Habit stacking works because you eliminate the stress of trying to change too many things at once. Your goal is to simply focus on a single routine that only takes about 15 to 30 minutes to complete. [...] All you have to do is to create a checklist and follow it every single day."

Scott suggests a list of 97 small habits you can put into habit stacks and gives advice about how to build the stacks. The idea is also to have more than one stack, for example, one in the morning, at work, and in the evening. These habits are divided into seven chapters:

1. Productivity
2. Relationships
3. Finances
4. Organization
5. Spirituality and mental well-being
6. Health and physical fitness
7. Leisure

I recommend this book for everyone who is overwhelmed by his or her daily routines. I think it fits well into the mindset of “lean self.”


About The Author

Jens R. Woinowski’s picture

Jens R. Woinowski

Jens R. Woinowski has been in the IT business for more than 20 years and is currently quality and risk manager at a major IT company. While studying and applying lean principles as part of his job, Woinowski discovered that lean management principles were as relevant in personal life as in business. In his blog Lean Self he shares insights of this discovery to the public.