I often do this exercise with smaller groups I work with and am always surprised at how simple and yet powerful this is. It’s quite simple. It’s a tool to help you figure out the best time for you to make an important decision. Remember, all decisions are not made rationally (logically) and in fact, emotional decisions often trump logical/rational. Do you remember buying that item just because “you had to have it” when in fact, you already have several of them and did not really need it?
Here is how it works. Look at the graph below. At each 3 hour point, simply reflect on your day yesterday. It is important to pick the full day before as memories are fresh. Put an “x” to the point in the chart to the emotional state you were in at that hour.
Once you have inserted all six Xs, then draw a line connecting them all left to right. There should clearly be a variation in your emotional temperature as your day progressed. The variation will differ for each person and their experiences but there will be some Xs that plot high (feeling great) and others not so high feeling bad. If you were to look at this graph and ask yourself, “when was the best time yesterday for me to make an important decision?” Hopefully the answer is intuitive; it would be when you were feeling the best. From a neuroscience perspective, this translates to a state of lack of threat (fear) and therefore, open access to relevant memory and rational thought.
As you think of tomorrow, and by looking at your calendar and the events scheduled, you can probably take a good guess (though not fully accurate as it’s impossible to determine exactly how you will feel) as to when you will be feeling great and when you won’t. This should tell you the best time of the day tomorrow for objective decision making.
You can do this same exercise with a customer, client, co-worker, employee, or boss, to figure out the best time to approach them about an important decision. If you think about it, this is a skill children master very well. They know the best time to ask Mom or Dad for something that they really want. It is the same skill we can use for ourselves in our work environment.