Becky’s Tidbits Episode 9. How to Stack Habits

Habits play a powerful part in how we create (or don’t create!).

Several books that have made the NY Best Seller’s list address the topic of habits;
Atomic Habit by James Clear and
The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg


What exactly is a habit?

According to James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, habits are small decisions that you make and act on daily. Weather we are aware of it or not, our daily habits make up 40% of our behaviors in a given day. So, essentially, our lives are the sum of these habits. Don’t you think there is value in taking a look at our daily habits, both good and bad, that make up 40% of our behaviors?

Really? 40%? Well that made me super curious. What am I doing throughout my day that I am aware of or better yet, not aware of.
So I started to track myself.
I started to watch myself like an outside observer.
Sure enough, I could see a pattern of how I was doing things. There were definite times when I would do certain thing…some of them being super obvious.
I wake up.
I use the facilities (this is a family friendly show).
I go into the kitchen.
I feed the cat.
I place on the kettle for tea.
I look at my phone for messages.
And so on…
I could see these habits that I had in just about every aspect of my life.

Then I had to start asking myself, were all of these habits working for me?
Were there things that I’ve always wanted to do more of that I just wasn’t getting in the habit up?

I’m not sure which book I read it in, but somewhere in this process I came to the awareness that I wasn’t going to change habits that weren’t getting me what I wanted, unless I replaced them with habits that did?
So, how do you do that?

James Clear writes about this a lot in his book Atomic Habits. A couple of his suggestions are:

  1. Stack habits on top of other habits.
  2. Be super specific about when, where, what and for how long.
  3. Commit to 10 minutes or less.

The first habit, stacking habits on top of other habits was easy for me because I had spent time thinking about that 40% deal-o prior. Now that I was aware of how I was doing my daily routine and the habits that I wanted already in place, I could find ways to “stack habits” on top of old habits. For example:
I wake up.
I use the facilities.
NEW HABIT: I take my vitamins.
I go into the kitchen.
I feed the cat.
I place on the kettle for tea.
TAKE OUT OLD HABIT: I look at my phone for messages.
I start my squats.
I lay out my blanket in the living room and I start my morning routine of exercise.
The kettle boils.
I turn it off.
I do my next set of squats.
I look at my phone for messages.

So, you can see, I have built new habits by stacking them within the ones that I was already did? And I delayed my gratification of looking at my phone messages until I was done with my second set of squats.
Pretty cool huh?

The second habit boosting suggestion that James Clear makes in his book Atomic Habits is to be super specific about when, where and for how long.

For example, I wanted to read more. Setting a goal of reading x books month wasn’t working for me, I just wasn’t finding “the time to read” as much as I wanted. The habit that I put in place, taking into consideration the
When, where and for how long…looked like this:
In the evening when I go to bed, I will read for 10 minutes.

So that brings me to the third suggestion, make it for 10 minutes or less. Shoot, I can read for 10 minutes. What I actually found is that I was reading for way more than 10 minutes! I would get into it and easily a ½ hour would pass.

So, what does this have to do with being artists? What does this have to do with class? All I’m asking is for you to be aware of the habits that are making up 40% of your day. Are they working for you?
Do you want to be more creative?
How can you “stack” creative time into your daily routine?
Will you need to take out or delay some habits to make it more of a priority?
Are you being specific about the when, where and for how long you are going to create for?
Let’s be curious.
Now let’s have some fun creating!


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3 thoughts on “Becky’s Tidbits Episode 9. How to Stack Habits

  1. Michelle Gray says:

    Stacking habits, great concept. Plan to implement it right away.
    This is your first tidbit post I’ve taken the time to read ‘cuz of the subject matter. Planning to go back and read 1-8 in Jan. 2020. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Laurie Galloway says:

    Very timely subject, Becky, as I was beginning to look at what I wanted to do differently, created better results, for 2020. I was shocked at the 40% stat! Becoming that ‘observer’ today. Thanks.

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