When you boost your emotional Intelligence, or EQ, you also increase the quality of your relationships, your memory, your learning capacity, your physical and mental health, and your productivity. This may seem like a stretch—on the surface, emotions don’t seem to be relevant to productivity. But research will tell you otherwise—EQ plays a significant role in many areas of life.
I recently wrote a post outlining how important the role emotions play in our actions and outcomes—it was inspired from a talk I saw delivered by Marc Brackett, Ph.D. and Director of Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence. Read that article before this one for an overview of the role emotions play in our health, happiness, and productivity levels. Read: Part 1: Emotional Intelligence and Understanding Our Emotions
With the evidence that Brackett and his team at Yale found about the importance of emotional intelligence at school and at work, they developed programs to help people increase their EQ levels.
One such tool the team built is the Mood Meter, an app that helps you understand your mood, and the specific and various levels of unpleasantness and intensity.
In the app, there are four quadrants, each represented by one color and a full spectrum of emotions. Brackett said that in general, people have just a few common words to describe themselves if they were in each quadrant—here are the most common words to describe each:
- Red: Angry
- Yellow: Great
- Green: Fine
- Blue: Eh
But in real life, there are many gradations and different flavors of those emotions, and those specific words help to expand our understanding of where we are in our emotional states. Here is a screenshot of the meter with a few additional emotions paired with each quadrant.
When you use the app, it guides you to get specific and identify the level of energy and pleasantness that you feel at any given moment, and with that, it will place you on the grid. Here is a screen shot of the app:
Over time, the tool is meant to increase your vocabulary as it relates to emotions and guide you to use your emotional state to your advantage.
Using Your EQ for Productivity
This is where it gets interesting for a productivity seeker like myself. If you can specifically identify where you are with the meter, you can pair your task accordingly for an effective and productive working session.
For example, I’m a writer and I learned that if I am in a motivated state (yellow), it would be a good time for me to do some writing and brainstorming. If I am in a sullen or quiet mood (blue), I should edit work I’ve already written. If you match your mood and task poorly, you are likely not to have a productive session.
Here are recommended tasks for each quadrant; if you are in the zone of:
- Red: A good time for tasks involving persuasion, debating, fighting and battling injustice
- Yellow: A good time for brainstorming, innovating, inspiring others and teaching
- Green: A good time for reflection, building consensus, smoothing out issues and grading papers
- Blue: A good time for proofing and showing empathy
If you sit down for a brainstorming session while you’re in a blue state, your ideas may not be as innovative or dazzling as if you are in the yellow.
Using Your EQ to Balance Your Emotions
What if you are find that you are in the blue quadrant, yet you have to teach a class in 30 minutes, which would be much more conducive to a yellow state?
We often tend to move toward strategies that push us deeper into the emotional state we’re in, instead of the emotional state that would suit our task-at-hand better. These ineffective strategies can include: Blaming, procrastinating, yelling, and arguing.
But there are also some helpful strategies to help you find more balance and bring you closer to the center. Knowing which quadrant you’re in is obviously the first step. Here are a few tips for balancing your emotional state, depending on which quadrant you are in:
- Red: If you “too red” and want find more balance, take a break and give yourself some space from a situation that may have caused your red state. If you need more red, use positive self-talk to gain an edge.
- Yellow: If you are “too yellow” and want to balance that out, listen to calming music. If you need more yellow, think about someone who inspires you.
- Green: If you are “too green” and want to balance it, take an energizing walk or go to the gym for an energy boost. If you need more green, do some calming breathing exercises to relax the mind and body.
- Blue: If you are “too blue” and want to find more balance, try to cultivate a fresh perspective on the situation that may be contributing to your blue state. If you want more blue energy, talk to a friend.
It’s essentially a tool that teaches you, that how you feel can drive action and outcomes in your life—for better or worse. And the more aware of your emotional state you are, the better you can consciously use that information to put your best foot forward for any task or situation you are in, for a more focused and productive day.