December 23, 2015

If you're wondering how to maximize productivity to just get more done and set yourself up for success, this is for you.

YouTube video

Productivity – The 4 Habit Formats

Here's the thing: we all work a little bit differently. If I told you what has helped me maximize productivity, it may or may not work for you. It really comes down to how we form habits.

Gretchen Rubin talks about this in her book Better Than Before: What I Learn about Making and Breaking Habits. It is one of my favorite books of the year and has really helped me strategize ways to maximize productivity.

In the book, she identifies 4 different types of habit formats:

  • Obligers
  • Questioners
  • Upholders
  • Rebels

Each of these people work in different ways.  Once you figure out what habit type you are, you can set yourself up for success.


My husband and one of my daughters are Obligers. This basically means that they meet outer expectations but not inner expectations. They don’t want to let other people down, but they often don’t keep resolutions that they’ve set up for themselves.

For example, let’s say that an Obliger wants to start exercising. If they join just any gym, they aren’t very likely to attend. However, if they join a gym which has more of a community feel, they will be more likely to attend. Likewise, if they hire a personal trainer or join a class where the instructor asks, “Hey, where were you last week?,” they will be more likely to attend.


Questioners are people who want to know why and how. If something doesn’t make sense, they aren’t likely to do it.

To go with the gym example again: If the Questioner doesn’t understand the training program, or thinks that the personal trainer doesn’t know what he/she is doing, then the Questioner isn’t likely to continue at the gym.

Questioners really need to understand the reasoning behind everything before they decide to do it.


Upholders are probably the most naturally productive types of people (though that doesn’t mean people of other types can’t be as productive). They respond to both outer and inner expectations.

The Upholder will go to the gym because she set a New Year’s resolution, and because the trainer at the gym will ask where she was if she misses a session.


I am actually a rebel, which is the trickiest of the four groups. Rebels are resistant to expectations – both outer and inner alike. Rebels can also be a bit of a mixed bag and combine the tendencies of the other types. So, it is hard to determine what will work for a Rebel in certain situations.

With the gym example, for me, I do feel more accountable when a trainer, instructor, or other members say, “Hey, where were you last week?” But this alone doesn’t make me an Obliger.

I'm also a bit of a Questioner because, if I don't trust or respect the trainer, I'm not likely to want to continue working out with them.

Also just some days, I simply don't feel like doing whatever is on my to-do list. There's a little bit of that, so that's a little bit trickier.


Finding What Works for You

To maximize productivity, I suggest that you:

  1. Go to and take the quiz you see there to figure out which habit type you are.
  2. Read her book Better Than Before so you can learn how to make your habit type work for you.

This is one of the key things that I struggled with for a looonnng time – trying to take other people’s productivity tips, apply them to me, and think that they would work.

If you are a Rebel like me and I told you “do exactly this every day of the week and you will be successful,” chances are that you would blow it off.

We all have to learn to work with our habit types if we want to be productive. The first step is learning about them, so take the quiz and read Gretchen’s book!

What I love about the book is that with a few tweaks in strategies (she suggests many different ones for you to experiment with) we can set ourselves up for success.  And I love me some success, don't you? 🙂


Have you read the book? I’d love to hear from you! If you haven't read the book, which one of those are you after you take the quiz? Did this reveal anything to you about your productivity? Please comment below!


Maximize Productivity by Understanding Your Habit Type

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2 thoughts on “Maximize Productivity by Understanding Your Habit Type

  1. Awesome Sylvie, thanks for sharing! I had not heard of this quiz before and I’m definitely going to take it. One thing I have struggled with is productivity and understanding what works for me. Like you, I have been trying to implement what other people said Worked & I found that sometimes those things just did not work for me. I’m gonna go take the quiz and get the book! ????

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