With my clients I use an activity log to help to re-energise them and to look at how they spend their time and see what split they have between pleasure and mastery. Pleasure activities are based on leisure (fun and enjoyment in the client’s spare time) whilst mastery activities are based on achievement (applying for jobs, chores, journaling etc.)

The steps involved in this technique require you to keep track of your behaviour and to record this outside of our CBT sessions.

The initial steps of the technique involve you monitoring and recording your daily activities and rating them for levels of pleasure and mastery. The later steps encourage you to schedule in advance increasing numbers of pleasurable and mastery activities.

Step One: Monitoring and recording weekly activities.

I will provide you with a grid: days of the week at the top and hour-long time slots down the side.

The grid will incorporate the full length of your day. Throughout the first week, you will record your main activity or activities during each hour. Whatever you’re doing, you must write it down.

Activity schedule.jpg

By keeping a detailed account of activities, you will establish an activity baseline that will help you recognise progress in the weeks ahead. This is the foundation on which you will build a plan to both mobilise and help you feel more focused.

Step Two: Identifying and rating pleasure and mastery activities.

While you are recording the first week’s activities, you need to pay attention to two variables: Pleasure and Mastery.

1.)  Has the activity you documented provided any pleasure? If so, write a in the box and rate the pleasurable activity on a scale from 1 (minimal pleasure) to 10 (extreme pleasure).

2.)  Has the activity you documented provided any mastery? If so, write a in the box and rate the pleasurable activity on a scale from 1 (minimal mastery) to 10 (extreme mastery).

The scale doesn’t measure what you objectively achieved, nor does it reflect what you would have achieved before losing focus. Instead, it measures a sense of achievement that considers how hard this activity was, considering how you were feeling.

Identifying and rating pleasurable and mastery activities is very important. It may help you recognise how life has gotten out of balance; many things you formerly enjoyed are no longer a part of your week. What you’re doing now provides very little emotional value.

Pleasure ratings also give you information about the activities that you still enjoy, and which ones offer the best boost to your mood. Noticing and rating mastery activities may help you recognise that, despite everything, you’re still trying hard. You are still doing things to cope. And, even though you’re not as efficient or effective as you were before losing focus, the things you do are real achievements, given how you’ve been feeling.

Step Three: Scheduling activities

It’s time to increase both pleasurable and mastery activities during your week.

You need to identify at least 10 hours, each week, on your activity schedule. You must allocate one or two hours every day against this task. By implementing this, you will schedule new pleasurable or mastery activities for these hours to replace the old, unprofitable hours.

Examples of Pleasure Activities,

·       Visiting friends and family

·       Films/plays

·       Video games

·       TV

·       Sports activities

·       Board or card games

·       Listening to music

·       Planning a holiday

·       Hobby activities

There are many other possibilities for activities that would bring you pleasure. Write 20 of your own ideas for pleasurable activities. Think back over the years to the things you enjoyed. Then, remember everything you’ve ever tried that was fun.

Example: horse riding in the New Forest. Let’s say that you’ve only ever ridden a horse once, but you loved every second of it. You could start horse riding lessons once or twice a week.

The same principles apply with mastery activities.

Examples of Mastery Activities,

·       Studying

·       Journaling

·       Practicing mindfulness

·       Martial arts

·       Going to the gym

·       Volunteering

Step Four: Prediction ratings against Weekly Activity Schedule

Begin predicting the rating of pleasure or accomplishment at the beginning of the week. An important part of planning your activities is trying to anticipate how they will make you feel. You may anticipate little in the way of good feelings from your planned activities. I would encourage you nonetheless to do them and evaluate what happens anyway. You will use the 1-10 scale to predict how much pleasure or achievement you will feel. You will then circle that number on your schedule. During the week you should write all of your actual ratings next to the circled predictions. One of the things you are likely to notice is that actual pleasure or achievement experiences often feel better than anticipated.