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Book Summary: Atomic Habits

Quick summary

Combination of small habits can yield remarkable results. Good habits thrive in a system designed to let them flourish without friction. Knowledge of the science and psychology behind habit formation can enable people to function at peak potential.

Atomic Habits details a comprehensive analysis on how to build habits and live better. In James Clear’s (the author) words, “Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for getting 1 percent better every day”.

Create a habit

Throughout the book, James provides ways to create good habits. I’ll summarise a few of them.

Make it obvious

Write down your desired/current habits. Be clear on exactly WHEN, WHERE, and FOR HOW LONG you want to perform a habit. Eg. I’ll exercise for an hour at 8 am at my office gym.

Prime your environment

Make the cues for a desired habit simple and obvious. Eg. If you want to read a book, place it on your desk where you can clearly see it.


Repetition is a form of change. Putting in reps encode a new habit by forming neural pathways in the brain. As a habit is repeated it becomes more and more automatic.

Habit Stacking

Performing desired routines one after the other. Eg. after waking up, I’ll weigh myself, and stretch for 5 mins.

Make it easy

Reduce friction between you and your desired habits. Start with downscaling your habits to the smallest possible chunks. Eg. To get good at writing, start with drafting short articles.

Make it attractive

Bundle a thing that you NEED to do with something you WANT to do. Eg. I’ll only check Instagram (WANT) when I’m working out (NEED).

Make it satisfying

It’s our natural tendency as human beings to do the things that stimulate us in a positive way. Find ways to make your habits enjoyable. Use some form of reward as a positive reinforcement.

Join a culture

Be amongst/follow people who already practice habits that you desire.

Break a habit

Habits can be broken by inverting the techniques used to form habits.

Make it difficult

Increase friction between the bad habit and yourself. Eg. don’t keep food that you binge on in the house.

Make it invisible

Don’t let the prompts of your bad habits directly visible to you. Eg. don’t keep your gaming console in the room you work in.

Make it unsatisfying

Penalise yourself in some way if you perform a bad habit.