Pairing is a technique for habit change wherein you tie a new habit that you want to develop with something that you already do.

I’ve heard, for example, of people stretching while brushing their teeth or some other habit tied with teeth brushing.

The idea is to take something that you already do and add something to it. Of course that does not always mean it will stick, but it could make it easier.

I discovered something recently that highlights how easy it is to start a new habit when you create the right incentive structure around it and make it the easiest thing in the world.

I have been wanting to start each day with 15 minutes of reading a nonfiction book. Occasionally I would do it, but more often than not I wanted to get right to work and not take the time to read.

Then I switched tactics.

I get up early each morning ostensibly to exercise. Yet before I get to exercise I drink my first cup of coffee of the day and usually stare into space while and check email on my phone while I sip. It finally occurred to me that I could use this time to read for 15 minutes.

Now, instead of being 8 or 8:30 a.m. and delaying my work schedule, it is 6 or 6:30am and I am delaying exercise- something that is very easy to convince myself to do. I still get to the exercise part and it hardly delays my routine since I was just spending this time staring into space anyway. What’s more, I think well this time in the morning and I find myself engaging with the book I am reading more fully.

Win win.

What are you struggling with that simply requires a shake up to make it easy?

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