Inspiration, Writing

How to direct your workweek with emotions and 4 questions

Emotions get a bad rap. Emotional women are hysterical. Emotional men are weak. Characters that withhold emotion are seen and written as strong.

Did anyone else cringe while reading that?

But it’s true. That’s how our society writes and often thinks about emotions. The funny thing is, we talk about the positive side of emotions more than the downside, the weakness. When you look up quotes about emotions, you’ll find a couple that talk about weakness:

“Think with your head, not with your heart.” ―Unknown

“Life is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel.” ―Jean Racine

However, you’ll find a lot more quotes about emotions that discuss the strength they can give you if you take charge of them:

“What we feel is a choice.” ―Piyush Shrivastav

“Don’t let people who don’t care about you, manipulate your mind, feelings and emotions or control how you think about yourself. Never give that much power to someone else.” ―Karon Waddell

“Whatever thought that activates a negative mood in your life, absolutely doesn’t deserve a single moment in your mind.” ―Edmond Mbiaka

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” ―Willie Nelson

“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.”―Joyce Meyer

The truth is that emotions are powerful. Whether they are positive or negative, they can be used for good. They can be used to help you with your work.

For a moment, think about your workweek. Do you feel overwhelmed and harried? Do you feel exhausted and behind? Or do you feel productive and like your work has meaning?

In this blog post, I talked about the Progress Principle. Today, I want to go a step further. I want to encourage you to connect your emotions to your progress. Your progress concerning that short story, book, getting published, or day job – or all of that and more. The key is to use your emotions to be intentional about your workweek, creativity, and productivity.

It all starts with four questions. I’m not sure if I learned these questions from Ken Coleman or Rachel Hollis while listening to one of their podcasts, but I’ve been answering these questions every Monday for the past month. They help center me before work and I set them on my desk as a reminder to focus and work hard.

  1. How do I want to feel this week?
  2. What makes me feel this way?
  3.  What can I plan this week to make me feel this way?
  4. What are my excuses and solutions?

These four questions are powerful. Tying emotions to my to-do list gives me reason to complete the most important tasks. This isn’t necessarily a way to do more, but instead a call to action to do the things that give me energy and satisfaction

Let’s dive into examples:

I want to feel motivated…

To make me feel motivated this week, I will create a writing playlist because the right music encourages me to write. My excuse is that I don’t have time to spend creating a playlist because I have so much work to do, but I can take 10 minutes per day selecting a few songs for a playlist. At the end of the week, I’ll have a new writing playlist.

I want to feel accomplished…

To feel accomplished, I will submit a story to a local publication. To get started, I can research some publications that would be interested in my story. My excuse is that I’m afraid of rejection, but that fear is futile because my desire to be published outweighs the possible rejection because, from rejection, I will learn how to become a better writer.

I want to feel connected…

To feel connected, I will prioritize people and time, not work. To do this, I can give myself time limits for my work and personal tasks. Then I will reach out to fellow writers to feel connected to the writing community outside of Twitter. My excuse is that I don’t have time to spend with new people because I should be earning money, but that excuse is fueled by fear, not reality, so I will re-organize my schedule to prioritize my time accordingly.  

As you can see, a lot of my examples involve time. I feel like I don’t have enough of it. After taking the time to set these goals and go over them for a few minutes every day to create my priorities and schedule accordingly, I not only help myself become more productive, but I also learn my weaknesses, which will fuel my next goals.  

Whatever you do, personalize the feeling, the emotions, and the action for your week. Every week will probably be different, although some will be the same. The key for this exercise is to connect your emotions to your to-do list, but make the to-do very small and doable so you feel accomplished (using the Progress Principle).

Challenge: Write those four questions in a notebook or on a sticky note. Place it on your desk or wherever you work/write. On Monday, answer the questions honestly. It just takes a few minutes. Then keep those answers near you as you work and allow them to prioritize your to-do list. Leave a comment if you’re trying this out and let me know how it goes next week.

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