Habit Stacking: A Productivity Technique for Building Successful Habits

This guide will walk you through the essential elements of using habit stacking - the productivity method to keep your team productive and engaged.

Lark Editor TeamLark Editor Team | 2023/12/17
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In today’s fast-paced world, the desire for increased productivity and efficiency is paramount for individuals seeking to succeed. One often overlooked yet powerful method for achieving this is habit stacking. By understanding the concept, origin, and practical application of habit stacking, individuals can unlock a significant potential for personal and professional growth.

What is Habit Stacking in the Context of Productivity?

Habit stacking, sometimes referred to as "habit chaining," is a technique used to build new habits by linking them to existing ones. This method leverages the brain's natural ability to automate actions, thereby creating a structured routine. In essence, habit stacking involves integrating a new behavior into an existing daily routine, making it easier to adhere to and sustain over time.

Understanding the Psychology Behind Habit Stacking

Habit stacking is grounded in the psychological principle of association and conditioning. When a familiar behavior becomes associated with a new action, the brain begins to recognize and execute the combined activities more efficiently. As a result, the individual is more likely to seamlessly adopt the new habit into their daily regimen.

The Origin of Habit Stacking

The concept of habit stacking can be traced back to the influential work of author and habit formation expert, S.J. Scott. In his book "Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less," Scott introduced the methodology as a means to simplify the process of habit formation. Since then, habit stacking has gained widespread recognition as an effective approach to building sustainable routines.

Evolution of Habit Stacking in Productivity Literature

The proliferation of habit stacking as a popular productivity concept is attributed to its endorsement by renowned figures in the self-improvement and productivity sphere. As its positive impact continues to resonate with individuals seeking personal development, habit stacking has become an established principle in the realm of habit formation and productivity optimization.

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Who is Habit Stacking For?

Habit stacking is a versatile technique applicable to individuals from all walks of life. Whether students aiming to enhance their study habits, professionals striving to optimize work routines, or homemakers seeking to streamline daily chores, habit stacking is a beneficial practice for anyone interested in improving their lifestyle and productivity.

Target Demographics for Habit Stacking

  • Working professionals with demanding schedules
  • Students looking to improve study habits
  • Stay-at-home parents managing household responsibilities
  • Individuals seeking personal development and self-improvement

The Pros and Cons of Habit Stacking

Incorporating habit stacking into daily routines offers several advantages, including:

  • Simplicity: Habit stacking simplifies the process of forming new habits by integrating them into existing routines.
  • Efficiency: By leveraging established behaviors, habit stacking enhances efficiency in executing new habits.
  • Consistency: The structured nature of habit stacking promotes consistent adherence to desired behaviors.

Despite its effectiveness, habit stacking also presents certain limitations:

  • Limitation of Routine: Over-reliance on established routines may inhibit exploration and adaptation to new habits.
  • Dependency: Excessive reliance on habit stacking may lead to an over-reliance on structured routines, hindering spontaneity.

How to Get Started with Habit Stacking

Embarking on the habit stacking journey involves a deliberate and strategic approach aimed at incorporating new habits seamlessly into existing routines. Follow these steps to initiate your habit stacking journey:

Step 1: Identify Existing Habits

The first step in habit stacking is identifying pre-existing daily habits or routines. These can include activities such as waking up, brushing teeth, or preparing meals.

Step 2: Define the New Habit

Once existing habits are identified, clearly define the new habit you intend to integrate. Whether it's reading for 15 minutes, exercising, or practicing mindfulness, be specific about the desired behavior.

Step 3: Establish a Trigger

Determine a specific trigger action associated with the existing habit that will signal the initiation of the new behavior. This can be a particular time, location, or preceding action.

Step 4: Create a Habit Stack

Align the new habit with the trigger action of the existing routine, forming a cohesive sequence that allows the new behavior to seamlessly follow the established one.

Step 5: Repeat and Refine

Persistently practice the habit stack, making adjustments as necessary to ensure optimal integration and adherence to the new behavior.

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Actionable Tips for Habit Stacking

As you embark on your habit stacking journey, consider incorporating the following tips to maximize its effectiveness:

  • Start Small: Begin with simple habits to ease the habit stacking process and gradually progress to more complex behaviors.
  • Visual Reminders: Utilize visual cues or reminders to reinforce the habit stack and maintain consistency.
  • Tracking Progress: Keep track of your habit stacking efforts by recording accomplishments and identifying areas for improvement.

Do's and Dont's

The following table presents essential guidelines for effective habit stacking:

Align new habits with existing routines for seamless integrationForce habits that are incompatible with your lifestyle
Select trigger actions that naturally lead to the new habitOverwhelm yourself with numerous habit stacks at once
Gradually introduce new habit stacks to avoid overwhelmNeglecting to reassess and adjust habit stacks as needed


In conclusion, habit stacking stands as a powerful technique for fostering lasting behavioral change and productivity enhancement. By capitalizing on the synergy of existing routines and targeted actions, individuals can cultivate a lifestyle characterized by sustainable habits and efficiency.

Habit stacking's adaptability to diverse lifestyles and its potential to instill consistency positions it as a valuable tool for anyone seeking to enhance their daily routines and achieve long-term success.


Habit stacking is versatile and can accommodate a wide range of habits, from simple activities like stretching or reading to more complex behaviors such as journaling or meditation. Its adaptability makes it suitable for various lifestyle enhancements.

Absolutely. Habit stacking can be particularly beneficial for individuals with unpredictable or irregular schedules, as it provides a framework for organizing and optimizing their habits, regardless of fluctuating routines.

The time required to establish a habit through habit stacking can vary based on individual differences and the complexity of the behavior. On average, it may take anywhere from 18 to 254 days, according to research, to solidify a new habit.

While habit stacking primarily focuses on introducing new behaviors, it can indirectly aid in breaking unwanted habits by promoting a structured routine and encouraging mindfulness about one's actions. However, directly addressing unwanted habits often involves specific strategies tailored to their elimination.

If you encounter difficulties, consider reassessing the compatibility of the new habit with your existing routine. Additionally, evaluate the triggers and timing associated with the habit stack, as these factors can significantly influence its successful integration.

With the foundational understanding provided in this article, individuals can confidently embrace the practice of habit stacking and capitalize on its potential to transform daily habits and routines, ultimately leading to enhanced productivity and personal growth.

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