Habit Stacking: How To Build Habits That Last


Table of Contents

Leveraging old habits to develop a healthier, longer-lasting routine is possible with habit stacking. This allows you to incorporate a new habit on an ongoing basis.

Our daily lives are filled with activities that we do on a regular basis (4). However, stacking small habits that are simple, taking into account the old ones, will benefit you to be consistent and achieve your main goal.


  • Habit stacking allows you to easily develop a new habit by grouping one habit from your routine with another, which creates a double habit.
  • It helps your brain to better adapt to a new routine. This makes your process less burdensome.
  • Improve your performance in the process by setting small, realistic goals to build a healthy, personalized routine.

What you should know about stacking long-lasting habits

Habit stacking is a method, which allows you to improve every day with small actions. Therefore, knowing your daily routine well will allow you to incorporate that new habit.

These steps are the key to creating a long-lasting habit. (Source: Maria Bustamante/ Gitnux)

Keep in mind, this is based on small steps to achieve a main goal, so don’t rush to be perfect with your routine.

How does habit stacking work?

It is based on building a series of behaviors and perfecting them over time. In addition to linking and modifying the actions, we perform in our day to day.

This method focuses on consolidating a new habit with another, to make it long-lasting.

The routine that we do every day automatically is difficult to change, because it includes patterns that have been strengthened over the years. This is about starting a new habit in small steps, without drastically affecting your established routine.

The main reason is to understand that creating a habit is not something that happens overnight. So make sure you add small changes to your day that you can master.

What are the basics of habit expansion?

Building a solid, consistent habit takes time, so if you want to perfect it, you’re going to need consistency and discipline. Keep in mind that your brain develops neural connections, which is one of the reasons why it is difficult to eliminate a behavior without forcing it.

However, one of the ways to change and improve your routine is to add a new habit with the help of another one you already have. This allows your brain to better process the new change. However, if you want to expand your habits, keep the following in mind.

  • Neural connections: these are strong when we repeat a specific action or behavior on a daily basis, and weak for those actions that we do not perform on a daily basis.
  • Discipline: this is what allows you to improve and solidify new habits.
  • Realistic goal: this allows you to move forward with the formation of a new habit.

How to develop new habits and make them last?

Every person has developed a series of routine behaviors throughout their lives, such as brushing their teeth before going to bed. These actions, which we perform automatically and without thinking, are the most stable habits and define the way we act.

Before developing a new habit, a selection process has to be carried out. In which we write down those relevant habits, which we need to reach the goal, on which we have focused.

Having a motivation drives you to change your lifestyle and improves your discipline in the process.

Start integrating that new habit in small steps, so study your current routine and plan your time. However, making a habit last depends on how committed you are to it.

Most people don’t realize the mistakes that prevent you from succeeding in your process. (Source: Maria Bustamante/ Gitnux)

Read more about How To Plan Your Day

What is the strategy for piling on new habits?

Starting to make changes in your routine, without having a clear plan or strategy to follow, will hinder your process and lead to procrastination. Starting your day with a to-do list will improve your results, because you will approach the activities to be done more efficiently.

Most people fail to start because they are not clear on the right way to implement a new habit into their daily routine. However, to put habit stacking into practice, you will need to consider the following:

Know your habitsWrite down your current routine on a piece of paper, so you know what things you need to change and what habits you want to keep.
Study what habits you needProceed to write down a list of 2 or 3 new habits that you want to add to your daily routine.
Compare and matchAfter knowing your weaknesses and strengths, you can find the best way to link a new habit to an old one. In this way, the process of grouping will be in finding a common link between these two.
Small stepsThe best way to build a habit and make it part of our daily routine. This is because you can’t start by changing from one day to the next, something that is already programmed into your brain.

What are the benefits of habit stacking?

Starting with a solid foundation to build the lifestyle we want is what makes this method of grouping and stacking habits a good option. It also facilitates the process of adaptation, which allows you to better know your weaknesses and strengthen them.

Also, having a list of daily activities to do, improves your performance, creating over time new neural connections, which will allow you to maintain that routine. From the moment you start with a habit stacking plan, you realize that what you do with your time has a lot of value and therefore, you focus on improving every day.

How to take advantage of old habits to strengthen new ones?

Each stacking strategy is personalized, as it depends a lot on your behavior and the activities you do. However, although it sounds like a simple concept, it takes time to develop good planning of your time, and to know how to choose correctly your base habit.

Perhaps your goal is to learn a new language, and you need a moment to watch some videos to improve your fluency and grammar. So, while you drink your coffee for the day, you can watch some videos and take advantage of that time to study.

This way, every day you learn something new, with the help of a habit you already do.

If your main goal is to start running or exercising your body every morning, think about the best way to add that time to your routine. After waking up, you can set aside 15 minutes to go for a run near your house or walk the dog.

So, you can start with just a few minutes, and progressively increase the time until you meet your main goal. Remember that the best way to turn a casual activity into a daily one is to do it regularly.

Hack your old habits

In order to change the negative habits we have, it takes discipline and time to improve and consolidate new habits. Therefore, prepare your mind for success by modifying the neuronal connections, with the help of a reconnection, which allows you to eliminate and create new connections (1).

Becoming aware of what you do with your time will benefit you to be more productive with it. (Source: Maria Bustamante/ Gitnux)

1. Study your bad habits

The best way to achieve a goal is to know what prevents you from reaching it. Therefore, you need to know what are those behaviors you do that slow down your process.

This will allow you to purge from your routine, everything that does not ensure a positive result in the long term.

Start by studying everything you do on a normal day, without overlooking anything, from the time your alarm goes off, and you get out of bed until the time you go to sleep. That is, your entire morning, afternoon and evening routine, this includes your morning cup of coffee, when you check your phone, prepare breakfast and even when you read a book.

After describing your day, you can know what actions you need to change and plan new ways to help you achieve your goal.

2. Improve your routine

To change a number of behaviors that are part of your lifestyle, you need to make small changes in your routine that are not so drastic. Because it is less daunting to start with something easy and simple than to complicate yourself in doing an activity you are not familiar with.

The key is to progressively replace that old habit with a new one, which allows your brain to modify that neural connection and create a new one to replace the old one. However, this change takes time to become solid enough to produce a new habit that lasts. So, you will need to be consistent and committed to your new routine.

3. Cement your new habit

Neural connections are produced through repetitive practice, which results in a series of behaviors or actions that we perform automatically. Some studies show that it takes 3 weeks or more to become aware of a new habit.

Therefore, repeat it for 21 days in a row, so that your brain stores it as part of your routine. Keep in mind that after 90 days it will become part of you and you will be closer to your goal

This proves that the time we dedicate to developing a new lifestyle is essential to achieve positive results in the long run. Although the ideal is to have an initial motivation that drives us to consolidate this new habit.

4. Habit cycle

This cycle is made up of three main stages, which improve the adoption of new behaviors. However, its implementation must be gradual, in order to avoid feeling frustrated or stagnant.

  • Signal: is the triggering factor that drives you to change the way you live your life, it can be physical or emotional. For example, you have health problems, so you need to start eating healthier.
  • Routine: is that physical or mental activity that you do to keep you in constant action and achieve a reward.
  • Reward: is that feeling of satisfaction that comes after performing an act or action with a fixed purpose.

5. Don’t overdo it

Remember that no one is perfect, sometimes we make mistakes that can affect our routine. So we have to be aware of this mistake and not punish ourselves with negative thoughts, for forgetting to perform a pending task.

If we keep a positive attitude, it is easier to return to our main focus, remember that every stumble leaves a learning experience, so take advantage of this to improve every day.


Habit stacking is a method that allows you to take advantage of your current routine to improve various aspects of your life. Always keep in mind that each person has his or her own process, so results will vary from person to person.

So do not rush and enjoy the path you are building, in order to adopt a habit and improve it, forming a new character that will open many opportunities for you. Be constant and value every effort you make every day to become a productive person capable of achieving your dreams.


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2. Muñoz V, Pérez A. Approach to the existing implications between nutrition, quality of life and healthy living habits nowadays. Journal of Humanities [Internet]. august 1, 2015 [accessed November 3, 2022];25:20.

3. Rojas M, Velandia Y, Angarita J. Relationship between healthy life habits and job satisfaction as favoring elements in occupational health. Revista AVFT [Internet]. 2019 [accessed November 3, 2022];38(5).

4. TORRES, Jorge et al. Healthy life habits as an indicator of personal and social development: discourses and practices in schools. Quality in education [online]. 2019, n.50 [cited 2022-11-03], pp.357-392.

5. Saavedra, M. de los A. . Brain-based learning. [online]. 2001 [cited 2022-11-03] 10(1), Pages 141-150.

6. Menchén F. Creative Learning and the Brain. Rescuing the Concept of “Apprehending”. International Journal of Education for Social Justice (RIEJS) 7.2 (2018): 47-59 [Internet]. 2018 [accessed November 3, 2022].


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