Jesus and Joe: the psychology of task association

Some tasks are just so darn hard for people to do. Examples include flossing, feeding the pets, reading your Bible, texting your girlfriend or boyfriend that you made it home safely, making a million dollars... you know, the usual. The psychology behind it differs from person to person. Some genuinely forget, some don't care about it enough, some get distracted easily, some have a fear of it... whatever the case may be, nearly everyone struggles to keep up with at least one habit. Previously, I've written before on the topic of small wins as a way to build momentum for a task that would ordinarily scare you off. Depending on how you tick, here's another hack that may work better for you.

Life Hack: Task Association

One of the most brilliant ways to do the tasks you would normally forget about is to associate them with a task that you never forget about such as drinking a cup of coffee in the morning... or six. This little life hack comes by way of my sister, Anna. It's called Jesus and Joe. She decided that since she never skips her morning coffee but (as many of us do) sometimes gets distracted and doesn't get around to reading Scripture during the day, she would link the two together. Read your Bible when you drink your coffee. By associating the two tasks together, her mind sees them as one singular task.

What's great is that you can apply this principle to any habits you may be trying to keep up or get started. Here's a few ideas:

Learn a new language

Practice on your way home from work every day. I use this app called Duo Lingo which you can use with a headset as you drive.

Declutter your home

When you purchase an item, throw (or give) three away.

Memorize Scripture

Tape some Scripture up on your mirror to work on as you brush your teeth.

Work Out

Stretch and exercise as you watch your favorite TV show in the evenings.


Read as you exercise on the elliptical. Here are some of my favorite books.


I do a form of meditation in the shower every night. I only meditate for about five minutes, but it's the perfect way to wind down in the evenings. The sounds of the shower blocks out distractions and the hot water sooths and clears sinuses.

I hope that some of these ideas will spark your creativity and allow you to build some new habits in the coming year! If you think of one that I don't have here, we'd love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!

Image: David Wright