Make the most of a bad mood

For some people, it's prime time for productivity.

When you’re feeling irritable, stressed, or high-strung, you might want to do nothing more than relax to unwind, but a new study suggests people with certain personality types should do the opposite.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, wanted to know whether there was a link between mood and thinking skills. They found that some people did better at focusing their attention, managing their time, and prioritizing tasks when they were in a bad mood compared to a good mood.
The findings were only true for “high-reactive” people, those with fast, intense, and enduring emotional responses. While the exact reason for the link is unclear, it might be that people who react dramatically are more used to feeling negative emotions and therefore are less phased by bad moods.

If you have more low-reactive tendencies (you don’t lash out, you're level-headed, you don’t hold grudges), a bad mood will have the opposite effect, distracting you from the tasks at hand, says study author Tara McAuley, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Waterloo.
Use a grumpy day to knock items off your to-do list if you have a fiery temperament. Start with the most detail-oriented tasks, such as proofreading an important document or mapping out your marathon training plan. If you’re more even-keeled, McAuley suggests stepping away from big to-dos and going on a 10-minute walk to clear your head instead.