As you’ve probably noticed, building a morning routine can be a trying experience.
Think about all that can go wrong: You oversleep, you can’t find your keys, you forget to do your most important task, etc.
How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life. 
But building a morning routine isn’t hard, once you understand the power of habit stacking…
What Is Habit Stacking?
In his book, Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less, Steve Scott writes:
The essence of habit stacking is to take a series of small changes (like eating that piece of fruit) and build a ritual you follow on a daily basis. 
In our “bigger is better” culture, where most of us instinctively seek big breakthroughs, it’s hard to believe that small changes can produce extraordinary results. But the wonderful reality is they can, because small changes inspire small wins, and small wins inspire us to persevere when we feel like quitting.
But how do you build a ritual you can follow on a daily basis?
Simple: You use an existing habit as a trigger.
Introducing The Habit Staircase
Let’s revise what we already know about how habits work.
At the core of every habit is a simple neurological loop, a loop that consists of three parts, called The Habit Loop. 
The cue tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use, and the most stable cues are immediately preceding actions. These are behaviors you always do.
The cue tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. In my experience, the most reliable cues are immediately preceding actions. These are behaviors you already do.
Let’s use waking up as an example.
This is an example of an existing habit—a behavior you do every day without fail. But what do you do immediately after?
Every weekday, I wake up, turn on my coffee machine and whilst my coffee is percolating, I write down three things I’m grateful for and my five most important tasks of the day. I pour myself a cup of coffee, open Evernote and do one of my most important tasks.
You’ll notice that each habit is triggered by the completion of the one that preceded it. I call this The Habit Staircase. I can’t motivate myself to wake up and immediately do my work, but I can after I’ve built forward momentum from doing a series of small and achievable steps.
The higher you climb the staircase, the more momentum you have behind you, and the less you need to rely on motivation.
Let’s look at how you can use habit stacking in your own morning routine.
How to Create a Morning Routine
First, choose the habit you want. Second, use what’s called an implementation intention. This is when you specify which habit you’re going to use as a trigger for your new habit.
Complete the following sentence:
Consider the following examples:
- After I wake up, I will say one thing I’m grateful for.
- After I turn on my coffee machine, I will do one push up.
- After I put my contact lenses in, I will meditate for one minute.
Don’t forget to write down your answer and put it somewhere you’ll see it every morning. Think of it as an instruction to follow. Remember: if you don’t commit to something, you’ll be distracted by everything.
There’s no right way to build a morning routine. Do what works for you. Experiment. But the governing principle is: if you want to change your morning routine effectively, change one thing at a time.
Choose the habit you want, make it super simple to do and make it automatic by practicing every day. Repeat this process over and over again until you have a string of habits.
Steve Scott is right: “Little hinges swing big doors”.
 Elrod, H. (2012) The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM), United States: Hal Elrod.
 Scott, S.J. (2014) Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less, New Castle: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
 Duhigg, C. (2012) The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do and How to Change, New York: Random House.
I want to acknowledge BJ Fogg for introducing me to implementation intentions and Steve Scott for introducing me to Habit Stacking. I also want to acknowledge Tyler Tervooren. His Habit Ladder inspired my Habit Staircase.