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What’s one thing that Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Barack Obama have in common? They always wore the same outfits. Jobs always wore a black turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balance sneakers. Einstein wore several variations of the same gray suit.
The former president wore only gray or blue suits: “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
Mark Zuckerberg typically wears a gray t-shirt and jeans. “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.”
Reduce Decision Fatigue Further by Learning How to Stack Your Habits
Reducing decision fatigue also complements habit stacking. When I first read about this, I made the mistake of thinking of habit stacking as merely a ‘technique’.
What I missed is that the deeper value to a good habit is for it to become automatic – something hardwired that requires no thought – which then frees up more mental space so you can focus on even more important matters and, if you want, go bigger .
This is where it gets really exciting.
FIRST: Learn how to create your own habits. That’s incredibly valuable and empowering because you now know how to change effectively and be consistent (where most people fail).
After I wake up (pick something you already do habitually)
I will stretch for ten minutes (your new habit)
SECOND: Start to stack other empowering habits on top of these to build out effective routines in your life.
After I stretch for ten minutes,
I will do cardio and weights exercises for twenty minutes
THIRD: Build Flow State
This gets you even better results AND gets you into a flow state – even more productive states of mind. To bestselling author Steven Kotler, one of the world’s leading experts on peak performance, living in a state of flow as often as possible is crucial to aim for because “Flow may be the biggest neurochemical cocktail of all. The state appears to blend all six of the brain’s major pleasure chemicals and may be one of the few times you get all six at once.”
What I’ve learned is that (surprise surprise) this takes time. You have to see the benefits to your new habits for quite some time before you are likely ready to experiment with additional ones that make sense to stack onto your current good habits. One fact that still amazes me is that the creator of the Tiny Habits method (outlined above), BJ Fogg, has up to 11 new, small habits on the go at any given time. What I take from this is that if you work on yourself long enough knowing the process works (that he has pioneered and tested for twenty years), you can create positive change beyond anything you can imagine.
The easiest times of day to habit stack (and be consistent so you reduce decision fatigue) are with:
a) Your morning routine – what you do after you wake up
c) Workout times (keep them at the same time)
d) Work routines
e) An evening routine (pattern of positive activities leading up to bedtime)
Building a morning routine is the easiest one to start because you can avoid work-related interruptions. In the real world you may have to wake up before your children if you want to avoid personal life interruptions! You can start with one positive activity such as meditation or exercise. Once that feels consistent, you can stack another positive habit on top such as reading for professional or personal development. There are many beneficial activities you can consider, so go easy and experiment. Clearly you only have so much time for this routine.
Start small and build up (if possible) so you don’t feel failure and the temptation to give up. It’s as important that you feel good about your progress because this is when we change best. As you layer on new habits, you’ll get better outcomes, less mental fatigue, and more mental space for new and better priorities.
Happy Habit Stacking!
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Matt Anderson International
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Phone: +001 (312) 622-3121