People tend not to take issues of when nearly as seriously as they may take issues of what…when problems vs. what problems, are distinctions author Daniel Pink examines through various sciences related to timing, which, he says are significant, but largely unrecognized players in our lives. Naps, for example, Pink claims, are akin to Zambonis for our brains, they smooth out the nicks on our mental ice.
So, is ‘knowing more about ‘when’ a science?…e.g., what time of day do people perform their best? Author Daniel Pink explores this question and others in his new book titled “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.”
Jeffrey Brown interviewed Pink, PBS News Hour Bookshelf in which one question he (Brown) asked is how one’s mood (an intangible) and performance (a tangible) follow relatively regular patterns throughout most people’s day, ala, scheduling our lives.
Obviously, there are countless books routinely titled and marketed for the ‘how-to’ genre…one need not look far, either online, or in an actual bookstore to see book titles framed (euphemistically, of course) as the proverbial ‘five easy steps to nuclear fusion’, etc.
An interesting, and much overlooked aspect to conventional ‘how to’ books is…the absence of a ‘when to’ component, according to Pink, i.e., the best time of day to take an exam, have a medical procedure conducted, and/or make big life decisions such as getting married, getting divorced, or quitting one’s job.
Pinks says the subject of ‘when’ initially sparked his interest when he realized that he was making countless ‘when’ decisions himself…some relatively minor and others far more consequential, e.g., when, during the day should he exercise or when should he abandon a project that just doesn’t seem to be working as initially thought?
And, Pinks says, he was making his when decisions quite haphazardly…it didn’t take long, he (Pink) claims to figure out how he could make when decisions in a much better way. So, he started reviewing the ample research available and reported in many different domains which collectively, allow people, so interested, to make evidence-based, systematically smarter, and shrewder decisions regarding when to do things.
This became the data Pink studied for this book and derives from various disciplines…such as economics, social psychology, cognitive sciences, anesthesiology, endocrinology, chronobiology, and even linguistics provides clues about the when. Scholars in these varied disciplines are, in many instances, posing similar questions regarding when, in terms of the various patterns to our lives.
What this research suggests, Pink says, is that both our mood (the intangible) and our performance (the more tangible) follow fairly-regular – routines and/or patterns…throughout any given day. Most people, Pink argues, experience (a.) a peak, (b.) a trough, and (c.) a rebound. So, for most people, their peak occurs in the morning, followed by a trough in the early afternoon, and then a rebound and recovery period which occurs later in one’s day.
For people who are legitimate ‘night owls’ for example…they may experience these routines – patterns (noted above) in a variously reverse order. Never-the-less, Pink says, what the research confirms, most people, should engage-conduct analytic types of work during their ‘peak’.
Pink suggests during ‘trough’ periods it’s not a good time…in other words, he advises people should avoid going to the hospital and/or responding to routine e-mails. However, during one’s recovery period, people have an elevated mood (intangibles) but, people may be less vigilant when compared to their peak period. This makes it an opportune time for one to engage in things like brainstorming and creative work.
Just moving one’s work (pattern, schedule) ever so slightly can produce a big difference in outcomes…for example, there is current research which suggest that the time of day explains about 20 percent of the variance in human performance (tangibles) in terms of workplace tasks. So, one may contend that while ‘timing may not be everything, it surely may be big thing’.
So, Brown asks affirmatively, the important thing is knowing who you are, right…yes, Pink replies, some people possess early morning chronotypes, i.e., get up early, go to sleep early. On the other hand, some people possess evening chronotypes, that is, they go to sleep late, wake up late.
Most people, Pink found in his research regarding ‘the when’…lie somewhere in the middle, i.e., what he affectionately refers to as ‘larks and third birds’. That is, people who possess third bird characteristics are inclined to (a.) peak, (b.) trough, and (c.) recovery is fairly-predictable, as are people who possess evening chronotypes, ala night owls, in which (a.) recovery, (b.) trough, and (c.) peak fairly-predictably.
At the end of each chapter in Pink’s book he offers practical tips for readers…but, Pink cautions, I don’t hold the view that people can transform their life if, for example, they are both overweight and lazy. Reading this book about the way we generally approach time will not likely convert a person in that way. Instead, what I say in this book is that there is some amazing science available that provides many significant insights into who we are.
For me, I do find that, if – when a person can attach personal relevance to a particular-piece of science and then genuinely try to apply it to their own life, its-all-the-more-likely it will become meaningful, and ultimately, one’s understanding – appreciation for that science will elevate considerably.
Michael D. Moberly January 31, 2018 St. Louis firstname.lastname@example.org ‘A business intangible asset blog where attention span really matters’!