Practice

Reviewing Expereal Mood-Tracking App

My Expereal Experience

Measuring Your Mood Daily with iPhone App
It is pretty, I’ll give it that!

Last week I mentioned that I was going to be trying out one of the “mood monitor” apps out there – an attempt to figure out if I could increase my positivity ratio to the 3-to-1 ratio recommended. The app I chose was “Expereal“, chiefly because it was pretty – the watercolor and minimalist interface really appealed to my sensibilities.

Unfortunately, that’s about all it appealed to. The app did exactly what it was supposed to do – alerted me a few times during the day to ask “How are you feeling right now?” with an unobtrusive tone. That was fine – the problem was that there was a simple color-coded dial to express how I was feeling. As you can see, it’s on a scale of 1-to-10, with 10 (presumably) being good.

Perhaps I’m unusual, but my feelings are rarely so simple. For example, at one point I was preparing to launch a new product for a client. I wasn’t sure it would work, but I was optimistic. At the same time I was tired (from working on the project) but also feeling fulfilled because I liked the work I’d done.

So how do you evaluate that mood of anxious-optimistic-tired-fulfilled? I averaged it out into usually a 5 or 6 – which sounds very median, when what I was feeling felt anything but average.

After the numerical/colorful input the app does allow you to put in a few more details – such as tagging the mood with what you were doing or naming it. In the examples on the app’s site 10 was labeled “sex”, which gives you an idea of where the mindset was. The problem again was that my emotional states don’t follow a simple tagging method. Mood is “anxious” – is it because my bank account is running low, or because I’m worried that my partner won’t like her present? Am I “hurried” because I’m trying to get to see my grandsons or hurried because I’m late for a meeting?

Then it got worse. Because the next screen got all comparative.

The Moody Games

Expereal's Mood-tracking chart
Plus, I didn’t have any friends! THAT’s cheerful.

The final screen, after you decided if you wanted to photograph your location or perhaps post it to Facebook (another strike against the app, in my opinion) allowed you to visualize your mood over the past week. I think that’s a great idea, though obviously I would have liked to see more than just a vague number. It would be useful, for example, to know if I felt “hurried” regardless of whether I was in a good mood or bad, or if I felt “sad” whether I was relaxing or working. Those would give me a clearer indications of qualities of my life that I could address.

Instead the app gave a very simplistic graph and then – worse – showed how your friends and all other app users were doing in comparison to you. I really don’t see at all how that would be useful, aside from either giving you a false sense of superiority or inferiority. Everyone else is happier than me; what’s wrong with me?

A while back I spoke at a conference and, afterwards, the organizers sent me the evaluations that attendees had written after my lectures. This included both comments and a simple averaging of 1 (HATED IT!) to 5 (LOVED IT!). That’s a wonderfully useful tool (in fact, I created a version via Google so that I can measure my own performance).

The problem was that they also sent the averages of the other speakers at the conference, ranked in order of popularity. This was horrifying because it instantly changed all of the presenters from colleagues to competitors. I can easily see this being useful for the conference organizers – but for presenters? It simply either made you feel good (Hey, I only missed first place by .2!) or bad (They liked EVERYBODY better than me!) using metrics and circumstances that you couldn’t control. The person who came in last was not a bad presenter – she had been scheduled right after lunch, and opposite a pair of extremely popular teachers (the ones who came in first, as it happens). It lent a sour note to what had been otherwise a wonderful conference.

That’s kind of how Expereal made me feel as I saw my mood level dip above or below the average. I stuck it out for a week, as I’d said, but now that I’ve fulfilled that commitment, I’m happy to delete it from my phone.

Especially since I’ve been experimenting with the “5-Minute Journal” process, at the recommendation of Tim Ferriss. We’ll talk more about that later, when the initial experiment is completed on the last day of 2014. Short answer, though: it’s giving me some amazing results.

Sorry for being a day late on this post!
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2 thoughts on “Reviewing Expereal Mood-Tracking App”

  1. Sending the average scores for other presenters *anonymized* seems like a good idea. It can give you a sense of what overall scoring looked like to see if you were above, below, or about average.

    Knowing who got what score is competition and that isn’t helpful.

    1. In my experience, unless you actually know what factors are being used to create that “score” it’s pretty useless. Maybe the other presentation was giving out free pizza, or had trained monkeys on stage; that doesn’t really tell you whether yours was any good. I find that the actual questionnaires, especially where people have written down actual impressions, help much more in letting me know.

      It kind of comes down to the same old personal improvement mantra: you don’t compete against others. You compete against yourself. If you’re giving the best presentation you can, and the audience doesn’t like it, then you’re presenting to the wrong audience.

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