One of the proven ways to build a new habit is to anchor it into a pre-existing one, wherein tying the two habits makes you start inculcating the new one. Marriage and family therapist Gregg Williams tried this out, anchoring his desire to check his to-do list early in the morning with his habit of brushing his teeth. But after initial success, he found he started ignoring the new habit about a week and a half later.
So instead Williams decided to try something new: not brushing his teeth till he finished checking his to-do list. "By visualizing my to-do check as an obstacle I had to 'push through' before I could 'satisfy' my long-standing habit of brushing my teeth, I found myself remembering it almost every morning," Williams says. "I soon found I could stop keeping track of when I did my to-do check—I could truthfully say that I had established a new habit."
The takeaway? To anchor a new habit to an existing one, try doing the new habit first.