How to Use Your Habit Stick

By its nature, the Habit Stick is an open-ended device. It won't beep at you when you make a mistake. Still — there are some practices that could help you get the best results.

Keep It Simple

Track one thing. Don't try to remember "every third O-ring tracks a meal" while the rest track workouts.

Don't mix O-ring colors. Go with one color.

Divide and Conquer

I've been tracking a habit that I do three times per day. So I put 15 rings on my Habit Stick, and then spaced them out, three per day. That way I can see at a glance how my week is going. Every evening, I slide the rings for tomorrow so they're close to the "done" side.

Fidget With It — But Not Too Much

The Habit Stick is a tactile, fun object to fiddle around with. Let that serve as a reminder of your habit and your commitment. There is just one thing I don't suggest you do: Don't slide the rings to the "done" side just for fun, even if you then slide them back. Keep this one action meaningful. Make it signify success.

Have Precise Criteria

What counts as "success" for your habit? When, exactly, do you slide a ring over to the "done" side?

Write that down for yourself. Commit to it. And then stick with those criteria — don't change them mid-flight.

Regroup, Reflect, Celebrate

At the end of the day, look at your Habit Stick. Did all the rings for today move to the "done" side?

If so, celebrate your success! Give yourself a mental high-five (or a real one, I won't judge).

If any of today's rings are left over, regroup. I like to keep an area near the start of my Habit Stick for "not done" rings. So if I have two rings left over from today's three, I slide two rings to the very start of the Stick, and then re-form groups, so that I have three rings waiting for me for tomorrow right by the midline.

Now's the time to reflect: Were your criteria clear enough? Was your habit challenging enough? Too hard, maybe?

Adjust as needed. Write down the new criteria.


Finally, remember: The Habit Stick won't do the work for you. There will be ups and downs when trying to form a new habit. Stick with it. It's worth it.

Level Up

The Habit Stick works extremely well with learnings from James Clear's Atomic Habit's and Charles Duhigg's Power of Habit. If you haven't read those, you should really check them out.