Infographic: How To Reframe Bad Habits To Boost Your Productivity

Executing on Plans / November 15, 2019 / Emily

What are the bad habits that are preventing you from reaching your goals? Are there bad habits you want to break so you can achieve your goals in 2020?

According to Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit, you can’t get rid of a bad habit, but you can change them into habits that work for you.

So if you want to change your habits and set yourself up for success in 2020, it’s important to understand what a bad habit is and how it develops, and also how you can change that bad habit. Your habit forms because of a cue, a routine, and a reward. That goes for good habits and bad. Quill has put together this infographic with ideas on how you can fix your bad habits.

Transcribed infographic:

How to Reframe Bad Habits to Boost Your Productivity 

The science of Habits

Habit formation

  • The process by which new behaviours become Automatic.
  • Through repetition we can form and maintain new habits.

Research shows that when we see something associated with a past reward, our brains flush with dopamine, even if we aren’t expecting a reward.

Dopamine: A neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres.

43% of what we do every day is performed out of habit.

How to change a habit

In his best-selling book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg examines how habits work and how we can change them.

The golden rule of habit change

“You can’t extinguish a bad habit; you can only change it.” – Charles Duhigg

The habit loop

According to Duhigg: Every habit has a cue, a routine, and a reward which Duhigg calls the Habit Loop.

The cue: The trigger that starts the habit

The routine: The behaviour you perform (the habit itself)

The reward: The benefit associated with the behaviour

First, we have to identify the cue, the routine, and the reward(s) that drive a specific behaviour. 

Then we need to figure out a new routine (a new behaviour that corresponds to the old cue) that delivers something similar to the old reward.

More specifically…

Step 1: Identify the cue

When you feel the urge for your habit, ask yourself:

  • What time is it?
  • Where are you?
  • Who else is around?
  • What did you just do?
  • What emotion are you feeling?

One of the answer to these questions is the cue.

Figure out which answer is the most consistent.

Step 2: Identify the reward

What craving does your habit satisfy?

To test if that’s really what you’r craving, substitute another award and see if the craving subsides. 

If the craving does not subside, substitute another reward until you find something that satisfies the urge. 

Step 3: Insert a new routine 

Choose an activity that is triggered by the old cue and delivers the old reward.

Write a plan using the following:

When (insert cue from Step 1), I will (insert nw routine) because it provides me with (insert reward fro step 2).

Post the plan where you will see it and follow the plan for a week.

Top habits that may get in the way of your productivity 

Checking and replying to emails too frequently

Continually checking and responding to email can be distracting and make it hard to get back into whatever you were working on. 

What to do:

Turn off email notifications and check your mail at specific times of the day.

Getting say tasks out of the way

It’s often tempting to start with easy, less consuming tasks rather than tackling more challenging items.

Research shows knocking out more difficult items earlier in the day is better for productivity. 

What to do:

Create a to-do list before you leave work in the evening or int he morning before you start your next work day.

Prioritize your tasks and start with the most daunting item first. 


While doing two or more things at once may seem efficient, it can actually increase mistakes and reduce efficiency. 

What to do:

When you want to focus on a task, reduce distractions by putting your phone out of view and turning off email and social media notifications. 

Not taking breaks

On busy days, it may feel more productive to work through lunch and sit at your desk for long stretches. 

Research shows prolonged attention to one task decreases performance. 

What to do:

Make time to get up and out of your desk chair, go for a walk, and keep your eye off of screens.

Being a perfectionist 

Making sure everything is absolutely perfect can mean missed deadlines and added stress.

What to do:

Don’t let your fear of turning in less than perfect work prevent you from meeting a deadline and remember that perfection is subjective. 

We all have habits – both good and bad. While we can’t necessarily break bad habits, we can reframe our thinking and behaviours to create new, better habits that make us happier and more productive. 

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