Cues to Action & Simple Reminders

Adopting and maintaining healthier habits can often be challenging, especially when it comes to health and weight loss.

One effective strategy to help bridge the gap between your intentions and actions is the use of cues to action.

Cues to action are prompts or reminders that trigger your desired behaviour, making it easier to stick to your goals and establish lasting habits.

In this guide, we explore the concept of cues to action, their benefits, how to implement them effectively, and practical tips for using them to achieve your health and weight loss goals.

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What are cues to action?

Cues to action are signals that prompt you to engage in a specific behaviour. These cues can be visual, auditory, or situational and are designed to remind you of your goals and encourage you to take action. By strategically placing cues in your environment, you can create a supportive framework that helps you maintain your desired behaviours.

The importance of cues to action

Cues to action are crucial for several reasons:

  • Consistency. They help you stay consistent with your habits by providing regular reminders to engage in your desired behaviours.
  • Automated habits. Cues can help automate your habits, making them more routine and less reliant on willpower.
  • Reduced decision fatigue. By having cues in place, you reduce the mental effort required to remember your desired behaviour.
  • Enhanced motivation. Cues can serve as motivational triggers, encouraging you to take action even when you might not feel like it.

Types of cues to action

There are various types of cues to action that you can use to support your health and weight loss goals:

Visual cues

Visual cues are items or symbols that serve as reminders. They can be placed in strategic locations to prompt you to take action.

Example: Placing a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter to remind you to eat a healthy snack.

Auditory cues

Auditory cues are sounds that signal you to perform a specific behaviour. These can include alarms, music, notifications, or specific sounds associated with the desired action.

Example: Setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to drink water every hour.

Situational cues

Situational cues are specific situations or contexts that trigger a behaviour. These cues are tied to particular times, places, or activities.

Example: Associating your morning coffee with taking a multivitamin, so you remember to take it every day.

How to implement effective cues to action

Identify desired behaviours

Start by identifying the specific behaviours you want to promote. These should align with your health and weight loss goals.

Example: Drinking more water, eating healthier snacks, or incorporating daily exercise.

Choose appropriate cues

Select cues that are meaningful and relevant to your desired behaviour. The cues should be noticeable and easily associated with the behaviour.

Example: Using a water bottle with time markers to remind you to drink water throughout the day.

Place cues strategically

Position your cues in locations where they are most likely to be seen or heard when the desired behaviour should occur.

Example: Placing your running shoes by the door to remind you to go for a run in the morning.

Keep cues simple and clear

Ensure your cues are straightforward and easy to understand. Overcomplicating cues can lead to confusion and reduce their effectiveness.

Example: Using a sticky note with a simple reminder like “Drink water” on your desk.

Review and adjust cues

Regularly assess the effectiveness of your cues and make adjustments as needed. If a cue is not prompting your desired behaviour, consider changing its location or form.

Example: If you find yourself ignoring a phone alarm, try switching to a visual cue like a reminder on your computer screen.

Examples of cues to action

Here are some examples of cues to action for various health and weight loss goals:

  1. Healthy eating
    • Visual cue: Keeping healthy snacks, like cut-up vegetables and fruits, at eye level in your fridge.
    • Auditory cue: Setting a daily reminder on your phone to prepare and pack a healthy lunch.
  2. Exercise
    • Visual cue: Placing your workout clothes and gear in a visible spot the night before, or adding “exercise” to your daily calendar.
    • Situational cue: Associating your morning routine with a short exercise session, such as doing stretches after brushing your teeth.
  3. Stress management
    • Visual cue: Keeping a stress ball or relaxation prompt on your desk as a reminder to take breaks.
    • Auditory cue: Using a relaxation app that sends notifications for guided meditation sessions.
  4. Hydration
    • Visual cue: Using a colourful and marked water bottle that you carry with you throughout the day.
    • Auditory cue: Setting periodic phone alarms to remind you to take a sip of water.

Tips for successful cues to action

  • Be consistent. Consistency is key to making cues effective. Use your cues regularly and incorporate them into your daily routine.
  • Use multiple cues. Combining different types of cues can reinforce your desired behaviour and make it more likely to stick.
  • Keep cues positive. Frame your cues in a positive manner to encourage action. Positive reminders are more motivating than negative ones. Ensure it reminds you what you should be doing, not what you shouldn’t be doing.
  • Make cues noticeable. Ensure your cues stand out and are easily noticeable. This might involve using bright colours, distinct sounds, or placing them in prominent locations.
  • Adjust as needed. Be flexible and willing to change your cues if they are not effective. Regularly review and tweak your cues to maintain their effectiveness.

Challenges with cues to action and how to overcome them

While cues to action can be highly effective, they may also present challenges. Here are some common obstacles and how to overcome them:

  • Challenge: Ignoring cues
    • Solution: If you find yourself ignoring a cue, consider changing its form or location. Ensure the cue is noticeable and cannot be easily overlooked.
  • Challenge: Cues losing effectiveness
    • Solution: Rotate or change your cues periodically to keep them fresh and effective. This prevents them from becoming part of the background.
  • Challenge: Inconsistent use
    • Solution: Integrate cues into your daily routine and set reminders to ensure consistent use. Consistency is key to making cues effective.
  • Challenge: Overwhelming number of cues
    • Solution: Focus on a few key behaviours at a time and limit the number of cues to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Gradually add more cues as you become comfortable with the initial ones.

Incorporate cues to action into daily life

To maximise the benefits of cues to action, integrate them into your daily routine. Here’s how:

Morning routine

Begin your day with cues that set the tone for healthy habits. Use visual or auditory reminders to prompt actions like drinking water or exercising.

Work environment

Use cues at your workplace to maintain healthy behaviours throughout the day. Visual cues on your desk or computer can remind you to exercise, take breaks and stay hydrated.

Evening routine

End your day with cues that promote relaxation and stress management. Use reminders for activities like stretching, meditation, or preparing for the next day.

Social environment

Incorporate cues in your social settings to support your goals. For example, arrange social activities that align with your health objectives, like group workouts.

Final thoughts

Cues to action are a powerful strategy for promoting healthier behaviours and achieving long-term success in your weight loss journey.

By strategically placing visual, auditory, and situational cues in your environment, you can create a supportive framework that makes making healthy choices easier and feel more natural.

Start by identifying key behaviours, choosing appropriate cues, and placing them strategically in your environment.

Regularly review and adjust your cues to maintain their effectiveness and ensure they continue to support your goals.

With the right approach, cues to action can help you stay on track, overcome challenges, and achieve lasting success.

Begin incorporating cues to action into your daily routine today and take the first step towards a healthier, happier you.

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