Like many folks geared towards the creative side of life, I tend to experience a broad range of emotions. And as Mr. Hyde must make arrangements to manage Jekyll, I’ve wanted to use my higher-functioning emotional states to manage the lower ones. I’ll put it into a more business-safe context and say this: there is some great research suggesting we should “manage our energy, not our time.”
In that spirit, I wanted to create for myself a helpful reference chart that would match my mood with the best tasks associated with that particular state. I’ve had this idea for a while now: In a coastal town, you know that not every minute of the day is meant for fishing or beach-going. A lot depends on the tide. So you refer to a chart to help guide your decisions for how you spend your time. Why not make a tide chart for managing moods?
Not every moment or mood is meant for productivity and conversation. Why not use a mood for what it was meant for? This paper-napkin first-draft sketch will hopefully help us see if it works. Here is what I am hoping to test:
- Do I find this useful? In my day, does it become a helpful chart, or just a silly little map on my wall with faces on it?
- Do others find it useful? If you were to adapt this to your own moods and scenarios, would you find such a thing useful?
- Can we make it better? Because this is a first draft, I know I will simplify it/beautify it, but what would make it better? Better design? Shorter words?
So, anyway, I started by picking some moods. (My moods, I will assume, may be different from the ones you’ll pick when you build your own chart). The moods I chose for now are shown below: anguished, sad/post-lunch slump, bored/unsure, alert-but-distracted, happy, chatty/funny and overcaffienated.
(I left out a few states that are simply lower-maintenance frames of mind: ie, feeling focused, feeling neutral. Those guys? They’ll figure it out for sure.)
For each mood, I filled out four rows:
- Using this mood (Best way to take advantage of this state)
- Changing this mood (For when it’s not just useful to feel this way)
- Being ready for it (What I can do in advance to better use these moods)
- Risks (What I need to watch out for)
I was thinking specifically of work and productivity scenarios, so I wrote answers that would steer me towards the best use of time assuming I’m on-the-clock. If you can’t read it, no worries, the biggest takeaway is the format of the chart, so you can consider building your own. Mine is a super rough draft anyway that will probably change tomorrow. Like…my…moods. Hmm.
What I can see emerging is that to be ready for each mood, I need to keep running lists. For example, when I’m in a post-lunch slump or just plain sad, this could be a great time to do some reading. But if I don’t know what to read, I could waste that moment.
This so-called “tide chart for moods” was sketched on a ripped-off piece of blank newsprint taped to my wall. I expect it to evolve as I start actually referring to it and putting it into practice. I may find that once my consciousness descends into “anguished” that the advice I’ve given myself is terrible after all, and I may have to revise the instructions. Similarly, I may find I’ve left out a crucial mood that especially requires guidance, that I may need to add. AND, don’t forget, these are not YOUR moods or your scenarios: you could try adapting it to suit yourself.
But as a start, I’m excited to try this out: if the muse exists, this is like a transit timetable to help us coordinate our travel schedules.