When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Published: 1/9/2018
Everyone knows that timing is everything. But we don't know much about timing itself. Our lives are a never-ending stream of "when" decisions: when to start a business, schedule a class, get serious about a person. Yet we make those decisions based on intuition and guesswork.

When By Daniel Pink

Key Insights

Time surrounds us.

We are constantly meeting deadlines, having to be different places on time, and racing against the clock.

Time is everything.

In Daniel Pink’s, “When,” he explains why this pattern of relying on time is a very strong emotional pattern in human behavior.

You’ll learn to understand how important it is to have perfect timing when it comes to doing certain actions. Even, if it’s as simple as sending an email or making a call.

Key Points

  • The Emotional Pattern

Our day-to-day life has an emotional pattern. We all do certain rituals such as have our coffee in the morning, brush our hair before we go out, and wash the sheets every Friday.

An observance-based study by Cornell University looked at Twitter to note people’s moods throughout the day. The results were that early morning people felt positive, in the afternoon moods would drop, and then they would return to positive in the evening.

According to the study, this mood rollercoaster happens to most everyone, everywhere. It doesn’t depend on location, race, or culture.

These sections of the day have been labeled the morning peak, the afternoon trough, and the evening rebound.

This pattern has a direct correlation with the work that we do throughout the day. Our positive attitudes bring positive results. So, work done in the morning is best.

  • Chronotype

It’s true there is a daily pattern of emotions. But, not everyone’s pattern is the same. It’s important to understand your own individual chronotype. This will allow you to reach your fullest potential.

“Each of us has a “chronotype”—a personal pattern of circadian rhythms that influences our physiology and psychology.”- Daniel Pink

Your chronotype is basically your internal clock. There are night owls and morning birds. Both have different internal clocks or chronotypes. So, they are more positive and productive according to their own hours.

Many studies have taken place on creatives who are night owls. And, the pattern is that most night owls are the creative types. They also showed more signs of being neurotic and depressed.

Morning birds, on the other hand, are usually more stable and positive. They also tend to be introverted.

In order to schedule yourself properly, define your type and schedule your tasks accordingly. For example, if you need to write a paper and you’re a night owl, do it at your peak, which may be around 9 PM, rather than 7 AM.

Most people who need to work logically and methodically agree that morning work is best, while the creative work is best saved for the afternoon and later.

No matter what chronotype you are, try to schedule your mindless tasks during the afternoon when most people feel the 2 PM slump.

“Afternoons are the Bermuda Triangles of our days. Across many domains, the trough represents a danger zone for productivity, ethics, and health.”- Daniel Pink

Also, always book a morning appointment if you want the odds to go in your favor. For example, a job interview!

  • Take Breaks

Your chronotype does not stay the same your whole life. Teenagers tend to be night owls, while older people tend to be morning birds.

Teenagers have a hard time thinking analytically early in the morning, which is terrible if they have math or literature at 8 AM. This is why it’s important for students to take breaks between classes so that they are able to focus and think clearly.

“If you’re an educator, know that all times are not created equal”- Daniel Pink

In Denmark, schools experimented by having their students take a 30-minute break before a standardized test. The result was an improvement in test scores.

This “breaking” trend is also important in the workplace. Hospitals noted that most mistakes are made between the hours of 3 PM and 4 PM. Taking scheduled breaks at the University of Michigan Medical Center helped to decrease these mistakes.

  • Naps

There have been many schools over the years that have taken recess away from their students. But, these daily refreshers are important to help improve student learning.

Desktime, a company that creates desktop software to improve productivity, observed that to make the absolute most of your time, you should take 17 minutes of a break off of a 52-minute work-sprint.

But, even if someone takes 5 minutes off of an hour, their motivation and mood improve. These breaks are a good time to breathe and close your eyes or socialize via text, email, or in-person to refresh. Even just a quick walk around the office or outside helps!

Another popular way to take a breather is to take a nap. Anything over 20 minutes could result in you feeling groggy. But, a 20-minute nap to help you feel refocused when you return to work is invaluable.

Try drinking a cup of coffee before you close your eyes for 10-20 minutes. The results will have you feeling vitalized. This is called a napuccino.

  • Anticipate Problems

When you’re doing a project it’s important to note that it probably won’t be effortless. You are bound to encounter bumps along the way.

A trick to help this is to anticipate problems that might occur. List all the things that could possibly go wrong.

Another important segment of the project is the midpoint. This is the point where your team gets a surge of energy, most likely because they need to finish the project faster. Knowing this can help you to urge your team forward with encouraging motivation, which will amp up their productivity.

  • Reassert Project Goals

There is so much good that can come out of the midpoint because of the race to reach the finish line. But, this can also backfire and turn the project into a disorganized mess steps away from the end-goal.

Here are some tips to ensure that this doesn’t happen:

  • Make sure you are all on the same page and there is a shared vision.
  • Do not incorporate new roles and ideas close to the end of the project.
  • Be aware that people might get excited and act rashly near the end of a project.

There is a crazy happening in the world where people who age ends with the number 9, tend to do big things. For example, a lot of 29-year-olds run marathons.

  • Good Ways To Create Happy Endings

As humans, we rely on endings to things. Books, movies, songs, etc. And, we always want a happy ending.

But, we also want poignant and bittersweet, which is a quality that stirs up emotion and relates to the human condition.

By knowing this, we can make our endings happier and more satisfying. For example, if you are leaving a job, write a letter to yourself saying why you are leaving and where you hope to be in 5 years. Then 5 years later, open it up for a sentimental gift from your former self.

It’s not all about living in the moment. A lot of happiness comes from feeling connected to your former and future self.

“The best endings don’t leave us happy. Instead, they produce something richer—a rush of unexpected insight, a fleeting moment of transcendence, the possibility that by discarding what we wanted we’ve gotten what we need.”- Daniel Pink

Our experiences in life become better once we start to understand the concept of time and take control of it in our daily lives.

The Main Take-Away

Learning to use time to your advantage will help you to live a happier and more satisfying life. There are proper times to do certain tasks and by incorporating that into your agenda based on your chronotype, you will be much more productive.


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