Productivity and GTD

Mood and Productivity Have a Strong Relationship. Here's What We Know about It

AUTHOR: Warren Fowler

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Mood and productivity

Have you ever tried to define the concept of productivity? If we take it as an economic term, an organization or a country is productive when it effectively uses all its resources, capital, materials, land, labor, information, and energy in the production of goods and services. If we’re talking about personal productivity, we’re still close to that definition. To make it as simple as possible, it means using all our resources (mainly time) to produce the best results with our work.

Now let’s relate productivity to another concept: mood. It’s a generalized state of feeling and temporary state of mind. It’s tightly connected to our emotions. When you’re experiencing negative emotions, such as anger, sadness, or anxiety, you’re in a bad mood. When you’re happy, you’re in a good mood.

Good mood makes you enthusiastic and focused. When you’re in bad mood, you’re stressed or even depressed. Needless to say, you’re not able to achieve your maximum productivity levels when you’re in bad mood. There is a tight connection between mood and productivity fluctuations, and we’ll explore it today.

Bad Mood Leads to Anxiety and Depression, Which Are Linked to Procrastination

When you’re continuously unhappy, it’s not just a temporary bad-mood situation. You’re experiencing a problem whose causes are deeply in your subconscious levels.

Researchers identified a positive and significant relationship between depression, anxiety, and behavioral or decisional procrastination. Despite any attempts to brighten up and maintain your productivity, this negative state of mind has a powerful effect on everything you do.

Maria Bosch, a writer for BestEssays, shares her experience: “I was faced with a worsening health condition for a significant period of time, and I consciously noticed that the procrastination started from the moment I got the diagnosis. I started delaying and postponing my work for hours, days, and even weeks. I am sure that for me, the cause of the productivity shift was not laziness, but a deep state of anger and helplessness caused by the situation. But I got better and guess what: I got more productive, too.”

This makes sense. When you’re depressed, no matter how determined you are to get things done, your work suffers the consequences. It’s interesting that most people are aware of what’s happening. They know they are procrastinating and they see how their productivity levels drop. They are aware of the seriousness of the situation. In a way, that self-observation is even interesting to them. They notice when and why they procrastinate, and they observe the shifts in their will to stay committed to work.

Others are not that self-aware; they just become depressive and less productive for a long period of time, without paying attention to all the things that went wrong. If they don’t get a trigger that makes them snap out of that situation, the depression will only get deeper.

Can We Do Anything To Change This?

Even temporary bad mood can affect your productivity on many levels.

Have you noticed that many people get more productive in spring? They are inactive throughout the entire winter. They will get their work done, but they are not motivated to learn more and make progress. They are not motivated to take walks, exercise, and connect with more people – these are important aspects of personal productivity, too. That’s because they are not getting enough vitamin D, also known as “the sunshine vitamin.” Researchers found that vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression and cognitive impairment. That’s why people notice such a positive shift in their mood when they get to experience the spring sunshine.

But should we allow all these factors to affect our mood and our productivity? Should we just make peace with the fact that if we’re not in good mood today, we won’t give our best at work? No.

Leaders from all around the world are implementing workplace policies with the intention to improve the mood of their employees. Why do you think Google invests so much in making the employees happy? When the boss inspires you to cope with negative moods, they get a huge return of investment: you’re doing better work.

If you’re not part of such an organization, however, you’re left on your own.

  • The first thing you should do is find the connection between mood shifts and cognitive performance. Are you procrastinating or performing badly at work? Why? Find the answer to that why, and you’ll be ready to address the reason that led to such a result.
  • Make your productivity goals easier to handle. FacileThings offers an effective self-management methodology that helps you get more things done with less effort. It’s based on five steps: capture, clarify, organize, reflect, and engage. Try it; it works! It will help you beat the urge to procrastinate since it will focus your attention on priorities.
  • Make sure your working memory is not being overwhelmed. Make priorities and save some space for your own needs. You must not focus your entire life on being productive in terms of work. Personal productivity is also important, so you have to maintain that balance. Start doing yoga, read more books, start blogging, or do whatever makes you happy.
  • If you find that your lack of productivity is caused by consistently bad mood, which may be related to anxiety or depression, seek help. A single session with the right therapist can literally change your life. Proper therapy will improve your mood, and that will certainly lead to improved productivity levels.
  • Laugh! It’s the best remedy. I know that sometimes you’re in such a struggle that’s impossible to smile, but do your best to be happy for someone who’s happy. The least you could do is listen to someone’s joke and laugh. Sincerely. No matter what bothers you, you can always find a reason to brighten up. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true.
  • Eat some chocolate or another type of comfort food that usually makes you happy. This is a simple, but effective way to improve a temporary bad mood.

You’re just human. You can go from high to low in hours, and it’s a natural thing to happen. When it occurs too often, however, you have a problem that demands a solution. Extreme and frequent mood swings demand your attention. They affect your productivity and your entire worldview. Address those mood swings and you’ll soon get your life back, in all its efficiency.

One comment

31e9edb3d10859de6e8c0396325ef3ec
Commented over a year ago Michał

I think there are still not enough articles on the internet about relationship between our emotional state and productivity/performance, so I'm glad this article found its place on facilethings blog.
I think it can't be stressed enough to put your ideas out of your head a.k.a mind dump. I remember reading about a study (too bad I can't recall its name) which measured level of stress hormones in people who transferred all their open loops on paper. In comparison to control group their stress hormones were much lower not only right after the mind sweep but also in the next following weeks.

31e9edb3d10859de6e8c0396325ef3ec Michał

I think there are still not enough articles on the internet about relationship between our emotional state and productivity/performance, so I'm glad this article found its place on facilethings blog.
I think it can't be stressed enough to put your ideas out of your head a.k.a mind dump. I remember reading about a study (too bad I can't recall its name) which measured level of stress hormones in people who transferred all their open loops on paper. In comparison to control group their stress hormones were much lower not only right after the mind sweep but also in the next following weeks.

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