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Habit Stacking My Morning Routine Helped Break My Procrastination Streak

Good habits and a solid routine can have a huge impact on your health; both physically and mentally. We’ve partnered with Garnier’s Vitamin C Brightening range to help you incorporate good skincare habits into your beauty routine.
Sometimes I feel like my life is an oxymoron. I’m ambitious and have huge life goals but I procrastinate, hard. I love an early start but then fritter away the extra time scrolling on TikTok. 
Blame my Gemini sun clashing with my Capricorn moon but I feel like I’m constantly fighting against myself to get stuff done. Especially when it comes to my personal goals. 
At work, I’m across deadlines and am ready to lend a helping hand, but it’s the hours outside of my 9 to 5 that get lost. By the end of the week, I’m constantly asking ‘Where did the time go?!’ and when the Sunday Scaries hit hard, I realise that my goals are still in the same place they were six months ago. 
I felt a pang of shame (and recognition) when entrepreneur Lilian Ahenkan AKA Flex Mami spoke about not keeping promises (like going to the gym) to ourselves, in an interview on the But Are You Happy? podcast.
“You got up today and you went to work. But who was that for? You replied to your texts, you know, you were obligated to your friends, you were obligated to your family, obligated to your followers. But then this one obligation you had to yourself? Now we’re questioning.”
This quote hit hard. I’m keeping obligations to everyone in my life but myself and I’m tired of it.
In the spirit of self-improvement and to actually progress my goals, I decided to start habit stacking in my hours outside of work.

What is habit stacking? 

The phrase 'habit stacking' was coined by Wall Street Journal author S.J Scott in his 2014 book Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less.
Habit stacking is a technique of building routines around habits you already have. Scott says the small wins build momentum because “they're easy to remember and complete." Basically, you take one habit you do regularly (like brushing your teeth) and “stack” another on top of it.
Considering it takes 18 to 254 days to form a new habit, hacking my little monkey brain sounded appealing.

My routines

The first thing I did was look at the routines I already have. On weekdays, I need to wake up, get myself ready, find an outfit and, on office days, commute to work. 
Then, I looked at the habits I want to form or do more of. 
These include listening to more audiobooks and positive affirmations, exercising, ramping up my skincare routine, taking control of my money, reading and leisure time spent off screens. 
The first habit stack was easy to implement. I’m a music girlie but rather than singing along to Harry Styles in the mornings, I swapped my Spotify playlist for a meditation.
Whilst I wasn’t sitting in a quiet room with my eyes closed, visualising my higher self, I was listening to positive affirmation audios to set my day up right. I did this while washing my face and applying my sunscreen.
I also want to get into a better routine with my skincare actives. Garnier's Vitamin C Brightening Serum and Vitamin C Brightening Eye Cream reduces dark spots and dullness, so they're up next on my stacking skincare roster. 
As well as listening to some centering words, I actually felt more present when doing my glow-focused skincare routine, compared to mindlessly listening to music.
Next, is my commute. I’m very lucky to live not too far from my office. 
Even though it’s only a 30 minute walk, I tend to sleep until the very last possible minute before rushing around the house and leaving exactly on time to get the train (8:33 am to be precise).
Working an office job, I don't get many steps in during the week so my next habit goal was to walk into the office. This is stacking my necessary commuting habit with an exercise-focused one.
As previously mentioned, I’m also trying to get on top of my finances and considering I spent $254 on public transport and Ubers last month, my wallet will also thank me.
So far, this habit stack has been one of the toughest to crack. Particularly as the mornings are getting darker and colder. But with the added push of trying to save money, hopefully this habit stack will stick. 
In the evenings, my habit stacking looks like applying a sheet mask while putting my folding away (AKA my most-hated chore). By pairing this annoying chore with something fun and good for my skin, I'm more inclined to get into the habit of it.

Is habit stacking just productivity porn?

As I’ve been implementing these habit stacks, I’ve questioned if it’s really about achieving my goals, or if it’s another example of internalised capitalism. Especially given that my TikTok FYP is filled with polished, aesthetically-pleasing morning routines.
If capitalism’s aim is to grow and grow, as a result, we’re conditioned to want more and more. So, is habit stacking fetishising our need to always be productive? 
To an extent, yes. Society says that we shouldn’t “waste” time if we want to achieve everything we want to in life. But only you can determine what time-wasted looks like. 
Time spent scrolling on TikTok isn’t a waste if you’re being entertained or learning something new. It can only become negative when we do it too often.
Which was becoming the case for me. I realised that I didn’t remember exactly what videos I watched on TikTok before I fell asleep, but I remembered the contents of the audiobook I’ve habit-stacked to listen to when I get into bed. 
By attaching these routines to everyday auto-pilot ones, it also frees up spare time on weekends or after work to focus properly on other hobbies like painting or creative writing. I don’t feel the need to shove all of my life goals into 48-hours on the weekend. 
For me, I’ve found that habit stacking builds momentum. Once I realise I’m implementing a new routine that I enjoy (like pairing my meditation with my skincare), I know I can change another type of habit and get out of a procrastination cycle. Which is refreshing for a Gemini to hear.
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