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Latest insights and trends in Personal Analytics, Operational Intelligence, and Workplace Productivity.

May 29
How do I feel?

I like to think about myself being a professional – never hesitating to perform tasks ahead of me, with enough concentration and appropriate engagement, using all knowledge I should have collected. Not sometimes, not only in urgency, but every time it is necessary. Always alert, I would say, and independently of a situation a hundred percent efficient.

So I think of that and then I shake off after a while, reminding myself that I should get back to work.

While allowing myself to contemplate it a little longer, I realize it's never that simple. I am sometimes thoughtful and contemplative, sometimes concerned or even desperate, sometimes amused, distracted or just tired – so I cannot be always alert. I am human and I have moods. Not only good and bad moods, but all kinds of moods. These feelings make each day, sometimes each while, different.

So it's only natural, that when I saw this 'How do I feel?' tile in my Personal Analytics Reporter screen, with these emotionally loaded icons, (and I made sure this was not yet another weather forecast widget), I started to choose them every day, just to express those unprofessional moods looking so out of place at the office. No special plan in that, just fun, maybe with a slight belief somewhere in the back of my mind that neatly gathered data may come useful one day.

Then, recently, I made a deeper insight – meaning, I had a look at the charts that hide behind that emotion's widget, to see what kind of possible analysis I can expect from such casual but systematic observations. The first was, of course, the "Feel distribution" pie chart, that shows myself in one compound view as quite stable person, with half of the time feeling reasonable, but also varied in the other half, with all other tempers well represented. The most interesting type for me: 'I feel perfect' occupied quite a chunk of varied side, but I started to suspect that I am more satisfied with this "reasonable" part looking at me from the chart.

The Analytics took advantage of having all the other data that it collects about me, to make links between them and my moods, so it presented them all in different aspects. I instantly checked this 'perfect' part of the continuum, to find nothing really stunning there. Time of work good but not outstanding, productivity not at its best. It didn't look that perfect.

The things that at once drew my attention were: extremely high communication time connected to the days when I felt reasonable and much longer overall time of work at the time when… I feel terrible. These looked awkward at first glance, but there was no reason to suspect any cheat – so I started to contemplate that.

The communication is quite important part of professionalism, concerning that in 'all the knowledge I should have collected' as a basis for work, significant part consists of the information I get every day, from my clients about their needs and expectations, from my colleagues about their experiences and matters they are concerned with. I use all of that, all the time, so it is not that strange that for the good part of the time, especially the 'reasonable' one, I communicate. That part of being 'perfect' at work I wasn't taking into account earlier and now it seemed obvious.

The other effect I had seen in the charts, at first I understood by simply reversing the link sides. It seems clear that at times when someone have to work longer, he feels terrible about it, doesn't he?
But I don't have to work longer. I do sometimes, as I am occasionally also working shorter, but I can't remember feeling especially terrible about that. When it happens I rather feel concentrated on things I should do – it's like gathering myself for bigger chunk of work, no thoughts of lying in the sand under the southern sun, rather collecting strength for combat. Thunders and lightings quite fit that mood. I rather like it, I would say, as it means that concrete things will be done and efficiency can rocket sky high – or at least bounce at the ceiling.

These thoughts somewhat ruined my first vision of being professional, however they made it more realistic. It seems being efficient does not always mean being alert. Other moods also matter and I would better recognize them and use to my advantage. And on the other hand, I know that feelings are always primary to actions, so it's really no use fighting them.


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