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Emotions and Productivity

April 25, 2013

It’s no surprise that emotions are linked to our behaviour and mannerisms. There are countless articles out there on how to manage your emotions and web pages that suggest you need to place yourself in certain states to be able to function optimally. Not to mention text books. To a degree, they are all correct. But there are no surprises in that. But which emotions are linked to certain activities? I work in an office most of the time, and have found that being in a ‘zen’ state most of the time, as is recommended by a lot of these sites/blogs, is actually detrimental to my work. I need to be emotionally engaged with my material, or I’m not going to care about it. If I don’t have any emotions about the person about whom I’m trying to write a report, it’s incredibly difficult. Doing administration work is even more difficult, since the only emotion I get out of that is a sense of completion, which, to be honest, isn’t the greatest motivator.

Regardless of it being a negative (disgust) or a positive (appreciation) emotion linked to the work I’m doing, so long as it’s there I can do something without procrastinating. I tend to think about this in terms of the Magic: The Gathering colour wheel. It makes sense in my mind. For those of you who don’t understand it, don’t worry, I’ll try to make it as open a talk as possible. Just beware though, I tend to avoid referencing specific emotions from here as it is my belief that they are just words or labels that are associated with a physical state of being.

Lets start with Red. If I’m seeing red, that’s a great place for me to be when I’m trying to get a lot of admin work done. I tend to move a lot faster, and since I can be lost in my mind, fuming about one thing or another I’ll get the work done relatively fast. On a more basic level (Red being related to anger, speed and passion), the sympathetic nervous system is activated (fight or flight), so I’m moving fast with a smaller amount of thought. When doing relatively mindless admin work, this is good for me.

Moving on to Blue. I look at this like a zen state. When I’m in meetings or trying to persuade someone, blue is where I want to be. To me, blue embodies the concept of logic, systems and order, in turn avoiding emotions in general. As blue is linked to manipulation and control, in a blue state the world is tabula rasa for my will. Confidence shines through, and hence I’m better able to influence others. The downside to me writing reports when I am in a Blue state is that I tend to ramble on, and put too much detail into everything that I can.

I think “Green” is the best state in which to learn. Whether it’s attending courses, surfing Wikipedia, or in discussion, if I’m in a Green emotional state (no, that doesn’t mean sick) my focus is on my own growth. As it is associated with boundless growth, I am at my most open for learning in this state. It is also the best for me when I have to collaborate on something, as a key part of Green is interdependence.

I try to write reports when I’m in a White state. In a White state I’m generally highly positive and focus on the benefits of the people around me, specifically the person I’m writing a report about. As I want to help either the person or society, my motivation keeps on going as I want to do what is best for people. A White state has me thinking about what would be best for all concerned and how I could actively contribute to that.

Black is less associated with my work, and more associated with me. As the focus of Black is self-interest, this is where I procrastinate, waste time, or shamelessly promote myself. If I notice myself in a Black emotional state, it’s best I try to move into a Blue state or nothing is going to get done and I’m going to start annoying a lot of people. The upside to this though, is that I freshen up my mind for the next piece of work, as I’m certainly taking a break from doing anything when I’m focussed solely on myself, in a hedonistic fashion.

I hope this makes sense to people, it’s just my interpretation of how mood states or emotions can affect or work. I know that moods, emotions and feelings are different things, but I’m sure this will be understood. And for those who don’t get the colour wheel yet, check out


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