Church Girl Blog

Habit Stacking For The Win!

by | Nov 24, 2020 | A Blogger's Life, A HOME Life, A STUDENT Life, A WIFE Life, A WRITER'S Life

Habit stacking not only changed my mornings, it’s changed the trajectory of my entire year. As a free-flowing, creative, anxiety warrior, I needed better habits and a stronger routine to make my days count. My coach, Robin Wisner (LightHerWay) taught me how to figure out my top priorities for being the best Church Girl for myself, my family, and for you. Here’s what I gleaned from using The 20/20/20 Method and how it miraculously reconfigured my hours, days, weeks, and months in just twenty-minute segments.

What’s Habit Stacking?

This is a strategy of scheduling blocks of time, finding things you’re already doing each day (“triggers”), and grouping small habits you want to implement as a natural extension of ones you’re already doing. For example, if you religiously brush your teeth every morning, why not add something you’ve wanted to prioritize in your life (like listening/”reading” your Bible) immediately after you brush? Brushing your teeth becomes the trigger that tells you, Start that Bible app, Girl! Jesus is calling!

Literally wrote this out and taped it to my desk in the beginning. I wouldn’t have excuses or forget what was next.

When I first heard about this from Robin I wondered if this could be a way to “get things done” each day that I wanted to prioritize but felt stuck somehow. I can’t believe the progress I’ve made over the past six weeks.

A Snapshot of The 20/20/20

Wanna know practical ways of how I started The 20/20/20 to stack my days right outta the gate?

  • I begin with straightforward, simple goals of 20 minutes (You can do ANYTHING for twenty minutes, right? The exception was Bible study and the walk.)
  • I wrote it down on paper (You can use your smartphone calendar).
  • I set my alarm every day for 5:30 AM (Yes, I’m not kiddingyou don’t have to get up so early) and
  • I stuck to it every morning for weeks. (It takes an average of 66 days to create a new habit that’s automatic.)
  • I gave myself grace for transition times but
  • I set timers to make sure I started and ended on time.
  • I moved to the next task quickly and didn’t allow distractions.

Adding little changes in my morning routine and using this standard 20/20/20 method for scheduling the first hour of my day set me on track to better fitness, peaceful inspiration, and calmer days. Here are my top three priorities (“PIN”: Perspiration, Inspiration, and Notation) and the practical ways I put them into practice.

1. Perspiration: Lower The Stress (Cortisol)

Sweating and exercise are things I had gotten away from and knew I needed to begin. Robin encouraged and inspired me to start sweating for just 20 minutes. It didn’t matter how–just MOVE the body! I had read this helps with the crazy chemical cortisol that #traumawarriors have in abundance in their brains. (See link below.)

Having not done any workouts for more than a decade and I was fatigued when I finished each walk. (This was a point of shame for me!) I started with a leisurely 20 minutes as soon as the house was empty of The Elder and Blu. (Trigger: my family leaving for work and school together.)

The dogs kept me going, excited for their time outside sniffing and pooping and marking territory. Sometimes Louie and Scout dragged me along up and down the hills. If they were going to take some ground, I guess I could, too.

Later, pushups made their entrance. My trigger was to do it as soon as I got out of bed. Again, I’m embarrassed to report I couldn’t finish 10 girl pushups in a row back then, but I kept at it. PRIDE needs to J U S T SHUT UP sometimes, amiright?

These days, every day starts with me dropping and doing 20. Sprinkled throughout the day (much like the coffee I drink), then heading directly out of the door for my morning walk. Whenever I feel stress rising or fatigue setting in, I push through 20 more up-and-downs or head out for another walk. Who knew anyone could ever enjoy pushups? (But HERE I am on IG, lovin’em…)

I’m proud to report, I can do three real pushups in a row and my top number for a single day was 80. Can I get a whoop-whoop?

PRIDE needs to JUST SHUT UP sometimes, amiright?

Leigh Mackenzie, The Church Girl Writes

2. Inspiration: Heightening The Power of God’s Word

Since I’m normally in Scripture most days, I wanted to be more intentional about a daily reading plan. Initially, I began using a Bible in a Year plan on YouVersion, opening my paper Bible to read. It felt clunky going back and forth. Remembering early Christians and Jews LISTENED to God’s Word, I cut myself some slack, increased productivity, and began listening to Psalms, NT, and OT every day walking the dogs. (Trigger: Walking.)

I stacked my habit stack!

It was powerful and I felt good about listening to two days at a time of Scripture. (Cuz, why not? I’m walking for 20 minutes!)

Soon I added different podcasts after Scripture. (Trigger: Finished Scripture listening.)That was making my creative juices flow, too, and got so much energy from learning from the amazing people who are serving the Kingdom in so many different ways. (See below for links to a few of my favorites!)

“Armed” and spiritually/creatively dangerous, I could spin out for days chasing rabbit trails. As an Anxiety Girl, I also worry about forgetting things (Darn that cortisol!). What was it I actually WANTED to remember and NEEDED to complete each and every day that moves me forward to the goals I attempt for the week/month/quarter? Enter: Journaling and the Art Of Writing It Down.

We GOT this. Good paper and a pen are just the ticket.

3. Notation & Organizational Goal Setting: Finding That Sweet Spot With Pen On Paper

When Robin began coaching me, she sent me a beautiful planner that contained biblical encouragement on every page. TBH, I hated journaling at that time because my thoughts roll quicker than I can scribe. However, for just 20 minutes of agony, I decided it could be worth it.

What I’ve found is slowing down to write is cathartic. BONUS: I also remember what inspired me, my goals crystallize when I write on paper, and it makes for a more productive day. (Turns out, Forbes wrote an entire article about it back in 2018. See below for a link.)

Each morning immediately after Perspiration and Inspiration (with COFFEE in between! Trigger: COFFEE!) I have habit-stacked Notation (what I’ve already accomplished) right before Organizational Goal Setting and I plan the things I HAVE to get done and WANT to complete.

What does this mean? I ROCK my very first hour of each day and set myself on a path to success. Whenever I get off track in the ensuing hours, I go back to write what I have accomplished (cuz we all get off track with the unexpected!) and get back what I originally strategized.

Have more questions about The 20/20/20 Method or Habit Stacking?
1. Come to IG and DM me.
2. Give a listen to How To Step Into Your Calling
How To Take Care Of Yourself
How Can You Help Someone With Anxiety? Give’em a Toolbox.
How To Read and Study Your Bible.
5. Click on Robin’s link above. (After all, she’s the coach!)


Click HERE for an interesting article on the stress chemical cortisol’s effects on us and how to naturally regulate it.

I was inspired by the book The 5 AM Club by Robin Sharma. I listened for free through my library’s app, but you can click HERE to see it on Amazon.

I listen to poplar podcasts/live streams like everyone else, but here are a few you might NOT have heard about:
Sacred Grounds podcast by Robin Wisner and Leigh Mackenzie anywhere you stream podcasts.
Angie Baughman’s Steady On (guest interviews on YouTube and Buzzsprout)
Stephanie Rousselle’s Gospel Spice (Bible study)
Tina Smith’s Raising Kids On Your Knees (praying for kids)
The Spark (on the Calm meditation app), and,
Instagram Insider Hacks by Ruthie Gray.

Click for a Forbes article on “The Science of Writing Things Down.”

To hear me talk more about this subject, check out our episode on “Habit Stacking For The Win!” on Sacred Grounds podcast with Leigh Mackenzie and Robin Wisner.