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A man talks on the phone in front of a productivity sign.

One of the best parts of being a freelancer is not having a boss hovering over you (OK that, and being able to work in your pajamas). That being said, it’s up to you to hold yourself accountable to complete your hefty to-do list.

Maybe you’ve tried strategies to enhance your productivity such as a morning routine, creating a detailed plan, working in time blocks, and the list goes on. 

Here’s the thing: Productivity styles are not one size-fits-all. What works for one person may not work for the next, and as a freelancer, it’s especially important to understand how you get into your flow—that’s where the Enneagram comes in. 

The Enneagram is a personality typing system describing nine styles of motivation. Everyone has one core type, which reveals how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are reflective of your motivation. It’s also a game changer for helping you tap into your most productive self—after all, you should be working with your unique personality, not against it. 

Let’s take a look at the best working styles for each of the nine types.

Type One: The Reformer

Ones are organized, efficient and a champion of their moral values. As highly-driven types, Ones are capable of making great change, which stems from their core motivation to perfect themselves, others, and the world. They struggle when their perfectionism gets in the way of finishing tasks. When something isn’t up to their high standards, they get a strong inner critic that points out the million ways something could be better.

Productivity Tips for Ones:

  • Decide the difference between tasks that need to be “perfect” and tasks that can simply be “good enough.” 
  • Set hard deadlines to avoid the trap of thinking something’s not perfect yet.
  • Balance self-criticism with a compliment after finishing a task.

Type Two: The Helper

Twos are generous, supportive, and value building strong relationships. They seek love and appreciation, so you’ll find these types working well with others and going above and beyond to please everyone. Their strengths can also be their challenges. When they put others first, they compromise their own sense of self and have a hard time figuring out what they want. This can lead to personal goals being pushed aside or difficulty managing time. 

Productivity Tips for Twos: 

  • Set boundaries—before jumping in to help someone, make sure it’s a convenient time for you.
  • Clarify your larger goal. When an opportunity comes your way, check to see if it aligns with that before saying “yes.”
  • Articulate your needs directly, whether it’s asking for clarity or more time to complete something—this will bring you peace of mind to focus.

Type Three: The Achiever

Threes are the ultimate hustlers, motivated by the desire to be successful. They are always on-the-go and dreaming up new ways to get ahead, while wanting to be recognized for their hard work and accomplishments. Because Threes are so driven to excel and take on many tasks, they need to avoid overworking themselves so they don’t burn out. 

Productivity Tips for Threes:

  • Monitor your pace so you don’t rush through tasks only to take on more tasks.
  • Recognize which projects are meaningful to you and which you may be taking on to prove yourself. Dedicating time to what’s meaningful will create more value.
  • Take breaks! When you disconnect from your work, it will allow new ideas to shift.

Type Four: The Individualist

Life is a blank canvas to Fours, wanting to create what’s beautiful and profound. They are creative and introspective types, driven to create a unique identity. As their emotions guide their decisions and actions, they struggle with mundane tasks or projects where they don’t find value or purpose—this can get in the way of them taking action.

Productivity Tips for Fours:

  • Create an aesthetically-driven workspace that’s inspiring to you. Perhaps you surround yourself with plants, hang up photos, or put crystals on your desk
  • Before you get to work, create a ritual that puts you in the right headspace, such as lighting a candle and setting an intention 
  • Learn when you are most productive (i.e. right after coffee, late at night) and do your most brain-powering tasks then so you can honor your body when you’re not feeling as inspired

Type Five: The Investigator 

Fives are highly-cerebral types that are curious and observant. As they are motivated to be knowledgeable and competent, they are constantly exploring new ideas and concepts. Their mind is always active, which can block productivity when they lose themselves in the detail of their own thoughts.

Productivity Tips for Fives:

  • Give yourself deadlines to avoid overthinking 
  • Connect and share your ideas with others to get out of your own head and gain a new perspective
  • Set aside time dedicated to specific tasks (i.e. a block of time for research, another for idea development, etc.)

Type Six: The Loyalist 

Sixes are the community-builders of the Enneagram. They are reliable, dedicated, and team-players, driven by security and support. As they are highly-analytical and often skeptical, they are in constant search of clarity to minimize their anxiety—which may lead to doubting their own abilities.

Productivity Tips for Sixes:

  • Create a structure for your days/projects to help you know what to expect 
  • Develop your own knowledge around something you’re interested in, be it taking a class or learning a new skill
  • At the end of your day or week write down your plan for the next day, and take the rest of the evening to disconnect

Type Seven: The Enthusiast 

Sevens are positive, opportunistic, and have larger-than-life energy. They are in constant search of stimulating people, ideas, and experiences, wanting to live life to the fullest. Their minds race at 100mph in anticipation of the next best thing. However, this leads to overcommitment and never feeling fully satisfied, as they seek to avoid boredom and pain. 

Productivity Tips for Sevens:

  • Weigh the pros and cons before committing to something so you stay aligned with your vision
  • Change up your work environment as you thrive off of variety—this could be reorganizing your space or working somewhere entirely new
  • Commit to doing one task at a time before moving onto the next. When you feel tempted to jump ahead, breathe, and ground yourself in the present

Type Eight: The Challenger

Eights are bold, assertive, and vocal, wanting to be in control of their own destiny. They thrive in leadership roles, as they love solving problems and making systems even better. Because of their direct approach, they can be excessive in what they do. They may charge ahead on something they’re passionate about without considering their feelings or the opinions of others.

Productivity Tips for Eights:

  • Sloooow down—physically map out your vision before moving into action-mode, and revisit this when you feel impulsive again
  • Connect with like-minded people where you can bounce ideas off of one another 
  • Find hobbies to keep your mind stimulated, as the lightbulb often goes off when you’re doing other things

Type Nine: The Peacemaker

Nines are adaptable, harmonious, and balanced, motivated by a need for internal peace. Others appreciate their ability to see and unite multiple perspectives in any given scenario. However, because of their peacemaking nature, they are often unaware of their own needs or beliefs. While many Nines are busy-bodies, they engage in activities that procrastinate a larger task—because they may be out of touch with what they really want.

Productivity Tips for Nines:

  • Choose your daily tasks—when you take decisive action, you will better connect to your own desires
  • Prioritize tasks so you can stay motivated on the right things that you care about
  • Allow yourself to fully engage in one task at a time without multitasking or distractions
  • When you feel anger, take time to explore it instead of repress it, as you might find more clarity within this

Enneagram type aside, it's important to find your own rhythm and flow when working. That being said, when you explore your type, you can use the added layer of self-awareness as your north star for guiding your vision, avoiding burnout, and tapping into the best parts of yourself.

Which of the nine types do you resonate with most?

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