Understanding Your Tendencies to Boost Your Productivity

Understanding Your Tendencies to Boost Your Productivity

We are all different. Our thoughts, limits, and level of productivity or commitment quite differ.

So why do we frequently attempt to shoehorn our productivity techniques right into a narrowly described box?

People try to flawlessly enforce productivity strategies like Pomodoro Technique, Zen to Done (ZTD), or Getting Things Done(GTD) after which they’re amazed that they’re still disorganized and overwhelmed nonetheless.

However, what we overlook is that building techniques and habits around who we already are, around our key natural tendencies, is MUCH simpler than pushing who we are into an already existing structure.

There are various behaviors and tendencies that can affect how we work. In this article, we would talk about boosting your productivity by using who you are ALREADY.

The Four Tendencies

I’m a huge fan of the work of Gretchen Rubin, “4 Tendencies” personality framework. The 4 Tendencies is a personality framework that looks at how we handle and react to expectations, both internal and external. It’s a framework that helps to explain why we do, or don’t do, things. And doing things the right things is what productivity is all about.

Here is a quick rundown of the 4 Tendencies and a few ways to use your ability to be more productive:

0_Fz2elYXU7tXCiJWZ.jpg source: From GretchenRubin.com

Obliger: An obliger is someone who finds it easy to meet external expectations, but hard to meet internal ones. That is, they meet expectations imposed by an external body or a third party, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves. (A little about me: I’m an obliger).

Obligers depend on external accountability, with consequences such as deadlines, late fees, or the fear of letting other people down. “I do what I have to do. I don’t want to let others down, but I may let myself down.” - Gretchen Rubin.

As an obliger to boost your productivity here are a few things to do;

  • Join (or create!) a group of like-minded professionals and meet regularly. Set goals for yourselves during each meeting and hold each other accountable.

  • Find an accountability partner. Send them a list of what you want to do each day or each week, and then follow up with them about what you actually did.

  • Set limits and don't push yourself too far. You have the tendency to say yes to others, to want to help others. Look at what's on your plate first before you say yes, then decide if it's feasible.

Questioner: A questioner is someone who can meet either internal or external expectations, but they have to agree with the rationale. They question all expectations and do only things that make sense to them.

Questioner: “I do what I think is best, according to my judgment. If it doesn’t make sense, I won’t do it.” - Gretchen Rubin.

If you’re a questioner to boost your productivity you have to;

  • Learn how to pose the question "Why?" "In a way that is non-threatening. You're a questioner; in order to move forward, you need responses. Without making other people feel threatened or accused, learn how to get the info you need. Instead of asking plainly, "Why?" "Ask instead, "I want to be thorough and make sure all the choices are weighed. Can you help me understand why, instead of Y, we are doing X? ”.

  • Don’t take projects that aren’t interesting or take on clients whose missions you don’t believe in.

  • Make sure that you have a good reason as to why you do the things you do. Take the time to think about it and ensure that the priorities and projects synchronize with your goals.

Upholder: An upholder is a person who responds readily to external and internal expectations and finds it easy to meet them. The expectations of other people are just as important to them as their expectations.

Others can rely on Upholders, and Upholders can rely on themselves. “I do what others expect of me—and what I expect from myself.” -Gretchen Rubin

As an upholder to boost your productivity to have to;

  • Set clear goals for yourself and choose to focus on projects or tasks that are in service of those goals. Once complete, set new goals, rinse, and repeat. Setting goals and aligning your tasks with them will ensure that you aren’t overwhelmed with ALL the stuff you want to get done.

  • Like an obliger, you can sometimes easily overextend yourself. Set boundaries and, before you say yes, look at what’s on your plate and decide if it’s feasible.

  • Be choosy when agreeing to projects. Remember, if it’s not a “heck, yes!” it’s a no.

Rebel: A rebel is someone who resists all expectations both external and internal. Sometimes, rebels don't want to be told what to do, where to go, or where to be by themselves or someone else at a certain time.

They get to do what they want to do, where, and in their own way, they want to do it. It doesn't matter where the expectation comes from.

Rebels work toward their own goals, in their own way, and while they refuse to do what they’re “supposed” to do, they can accomplish their own aims. “I do what I want, in my own way. If you try to make me do something—even if I try to make myself do something—I’m less likely to do it.” - Gretchen Rubin

If you’re a rebel to boost your productivity you have to;

  • Congratulate yourself for choosing a work-life that fits well with your tendency.

  • Pick just a couple of “absolutely must-dos” each day and then have a wide selection of other “top tier” tasks or projects to choose from each day.

  • Reevaluate your goals frequently to make sure you’re not getting stuck.

  • Reprioritize throughout the day; allow for pivots.

When we understand ourselves and how our Tendency shapes our perspective on the world, we can adapt our circumstances to suit our own nature—and when we understand how other people’s Tendencies shape their perspective, we can engage with them more effectively.


I love how a large part of our personality is broken down by the Four Tendencies literally so that we can make improvements. We can use our Tendency to help develop habits that work well for ourselves and those around us better.

Now that you know all about the Four Tendencies and how they can boost your productivity. Take the step by discovering your own tendency, go take the quiz !

I’d love to know what your Tendency is in the comments after taking the quiz!


  1. The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People's Lives Better, Too) - Gretchen Rubin

  2. The 4 Tendencies...At Work