Work Strategies Based On Your
Enneagram Number

If you haven’t heard, we’re a bit obsessed with the Enneagram at The Good Trade. We’ve found this ancient tool to be useful for personal growth, as well as for fostering healthier relationships at home and in the workplace. The more we learn about our numbers, the more we discover and understand ourselves and those around us. Most recently, we’ve been exploring how each number channels productivity. 

If you’re new to the Enneagram, we recommend starting here to learn about your number. Then check out our piece on Thriving In Relationships Based On Your Number.

Enneagram One
Working Styles | Serious, idealistic, task- & detail-oriented

Productivity Tips for Ones:

  • Set hard deadlines to ensure you don’t fall into the ‘it’s not perfect yet’ cycle.

  • Once you’ve finished a project, counter every ‘flaw’ you see with five affirmations. Then move on.

  • When others praise your work, receive their words as truth.

Dear Ones, you know the love/hate relationship you have with your work. On the one hand, your attention to detail, need for lists, and commitment to excellence makes you a natural at productivity. But you struggle to believe a project is truly finished. In your mind, there is always something you can do to make it better. Learn to recognize the voice of your inner critic and, when you hear it, shut it down. Done is better than perfect.

Enneagram Two
Working Styles | Supportive, encouraging, intuitive of team needs

Productivity Tips for Twos:

  • Set boundaries for yourself and guard your time.

  • Avoid working in group settings when you have pressing deadlines.

  • Prioritize personal and creative projects to foster your sense of independence.

Dear Twos, you are observant, genuinely interested in others, and committed to caring for people. When it comes to productivity, though, you risk setting aside your work to help others complete their projects. This response is rooted in your fear that people won’t love you outside of your helper role. Be careful with this, as ignoring your work tasks for the sake of others can often lead to resentment.

To thrive and ensure optimal productivity, set clear boundaries, and remind yourself that your projects are equally valid and important. Working alone can help you stay focused on your tasks and free you from the natural obligations you feel to help others.

Enneagram Three
Working Styles | Busy, energetic, fast-paced, affirmation-seeking

Productivity Tips for Threes:

  • Set healthy boundaries and monitor your pace.

  • Resist the urge to rush through tasks and take on new assignments before finishing current projects.

  • Carve out time for creative, non-competitive endeavors.

Dear Threes, productivity comes easy for you. Sometimes it can seem you have an endless well of energy, and it’s rare to hear you say no to new projects and opportunities. Because you’re driven by the need to be seen as successful, you operate in productivity mode 24/7. Half of our staff identifies as this number, so we know first-hand how challenging it can be to slow down.

But we’ve learned the hard way that taking on too much only leads to stress, poor performance, and eventual burnout. Let’s be real: no one can complete all the tasks in the world. Honor your boundaries and use your well of energy to hone in on fewer projects.

Enneagram Four
Working Styles | Creative, introspective, moody, emotionally stimulated

Productivity Tips for Fours:

  • Do the work even when you don’t feel like it.

  • Create mindful rituals to help propel you into a productive workday.

  • Create playlists for inspiration during those afternoon slumps.

Dear Fours, I’m going to speak from personal experience on this one. As a four, I’ve discovered productivity only comes easy to me when I feel inspired. This is great when my emotions are in full swing. I’ll be intentional about work and channel my moody energy into a meaningful project. But when I’m not feeling emotionally stimulated, I can fall into a pattern of procrastination and become distracted.

We fours are too quickly disenchanted by mundane tasks because we want our work to be unique and meaningful. Remember, mundane tasks are necessary and a part of even the most creative endeavors. All jobs require showing up and putting in the hours.

Enneagram Five
Working Styles | Analytical, tedious, intellectual, research-driven

Productivity Tips for Fives:

  • Keep a timer on your desk and use it to allocate part of your day for research and part of your day for completing tasks.

  • Work with hard deadlines.

  • When necessary, work in a group setting for accountability.

Dear Fives, when it comes to productivity, you’re more likely to think about and analyze your projects than complete them. You may have said, “I plan to be productive” on more than one occasion without ever actually being productive. As the investigator of the bunch, this makes sense because you love researching and mapping things out—it’s commitment and action you struggle with. 

These characteristics can work to your advantage when it comes to productivity. For projects that require tedious research, you’re already ahead in the game. Just don’t get stuck there. Keep things moving by working in time blocks. Allow yourself space for planning and research, and then move forward into action.

Enneagram Six
Working Styles | Reliable, loyal, calculated, risk-averse, creature of habit

Productivity Tips for Sixes:

  • Map out your project goals. Reference your list throughout the day and take each task one step at a time.

  • Lean into your need for routine and habits. Use calendars to schedule and structure your workweek and upcoming projects.

Dear Sixes, you’re the security-driven number on the Enneagram, and so you’re most productive when you feel confident in your abilities to succeed and finish a project. You never commit to something without having first assessed the risks and rewards. You also need clear instructions—if someone assigns you a project, don’t be afraid to ask questions and clarify expectations. You’ll be more equipped to succeed once you feel secure about the assignment.

You are also profoundly impacted by your environment. You work best when things are predictable and go as anticipated. While you can’t always control your surroundings, you can create structure and routine for your days. These habits will serve as signposts and help to relieve anxiety, ensuring you are your most productive self.

Enneagram Seven
Working Styles | Optimistic, busy, ambitious, enthusiastic

Productivity Tips for Sevens:

  • Avoid repetitive tasks and projects, and introduce variation into your workflow.

  • Use a time-block journal to organize your days.

Dear Sevens, you LOVE (all caps, because you’re an all caps kind of person) being busy and taking on countless projects. You need variation to have a successful and productive workday. The trick is using time blocks for your many obligations. It’s okay to be involved in a lot of things, but ensure you create a realistic schedule to get everything done. You’re overly ambitious, so working in time blocks can help you from committing to too many projects. Time blocks can also ensure you carve out space for self-care and alone-time—two things you need to thrive and get in touch with your emotions. 

Enneagram Eight
Working Styles | Driven, vocal, persistent, directive

Productivity Tips for Eights:

  • Lean into your innate leadership skills and delegate tasks to your team.

  • Use a vision board to stay motivated and focused on the end goal.

  • Work alongside others to think through and solve problems.

Dear Eights, you were born to be productive. You enjoy setting goals and accomplishing tasks, and you find a sense of purpose in solving hard problems and making systems better. One of my good friends is an eight, and she tells me that she is most productive when working with a group, especially when she is the one in charge.

Even when you’re not the boss, you can be your most productive self when you’ve identified a problem that needs solving. No matter what you’re working on, spend a few minutes thinking about the big picture, and then outline the smaller steps required to get there. Having something to work towards will keep you motivated, driven, and focused throughout the day. 

Enneagram Nine
Working Styles | Unifying, diplomatic, easy-going, relational

Productivity Tips for Nines:

  • Invite others to join you in completing your projects.

  • If you must work alone, focus on one task at a time, and find ways to make it fun!

  • Bring your dog to work, listen to an inspiring playlist, and reward yourself when you accomplish your goals.   

Dear Nines, with your easy-going personalities and peace-making skills, nines are arguably the best team players on the Enneagram. You often procrastinate when it comes to assignments, but this isn’t because you’re lazy or opposed to hard work. Instead, you believe the most productive days are ones spent building relationships with others—you’d prefer to invest your time in experiences and people, not projects. Obligations and assignments can also seem overwhelming.

The good news is, you can channel productivity in a few ways. First, avoid working alone. When it comes to meeting deadlines and getting tasks done, enlist support and accountability. Because you’re an idealist, your most productive days are the ones when you can bring your ideas to a task-oriented team. Working in a group will allow you to do what you love most: connect with people.

We’d love to host a space for conversation around this topic. Do you know your Enneagram number? Share your thoughts and suggestions for becoming your most productive self in the comments below! 


Kayti Christian (she/her) is an Editor at The Good Trade. She has a Master’s in Nonfiction Writing from the University of London and is the creator of Feelings Not Aside, a newsletter for sensitive people.