Book Summary: When -The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
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.
“The breadth of the book’s scope is impressive… Pink makes a point to end each chapter with takeaway points that readers can apply to their own lives. When is engaging, conversational and tightly edited, making it an easy yet important read.” —Associated Press
“When contains a cornucopia of compelling information and insights.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
“Helpful tips and insightful solutions.” —Forbes
About The Author Daniel Pink
Daniel H. Pink is the author of six provocative books — including his newest, WHEN: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. WHEN is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, and Publishers Weekly bestseller.
Pink’s other books include the long-running New York Times bestseller A WHOLE NEW MIND and the #1 New York Times bestsellers DRIVE and TO SELL IS HUMAN.
His books have won multiple awards and have been translated into 37 languages. Pink lives in Washington, DC, with his family.
Introduction: Captain Turner’s Decision
This is a book about timing. We all know that timing is everything. Trouble is,
we don’t know much about timing itself. Our lives present a never-ending stream
of “when” decisions—when to change careers, deliver bad news, schedule a
class, end a marriage, go for a run, or get serious about a project or a person.
PART ONE. THE DAY
1. The Hidden Pattern of Everyday Life
People feel increasingly happy throughout the morning, less happy in the afternoon and happier again in the evening
VIGILANCE, INHIBITION, AND THE DAILY SECRET TO HIGH PERFORMANCE
We are smarter, faster, dimmer, slower, more creative, and less creative in some parts of the day than others.
our moods and performance oscillate during the day. For most of us, mood follows a common pattern: a peak, a trough, and a rebound.
And that helps shape a dual pattern of performance. In the mornings, during the peak, most of
us excel at—analytic work that requires sharpness, vigilance, and focus.
Later in the day, during the recovery, most of us do better on coin
problems—insight work that requires less inhibition and resolve.
LARKS, OWLS, AND THIRD BIRDS
Morning types also tend to be high in positive affect— that is, many are as happy as larks
Owls, meanwhile, display some darker tendencies. They’re more open and
extroverted than larks. But they’re also more neurotic—and are often impulsive,
sensation-seeking, live-for-the-moment hedonists.35 They’re more likely than
larks to use nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine—not to mention marijuana, ecstasy, and cocaine.
WHEN TO EXERCISE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
In many cases, morning exercise may burn 20 percent more fat than later, post-foodworkouts.
Cardio workouts—swimming, running, even walking the dog—can elevate mood. When we exercise in the morning, we enjoy these effects all day.
Some studies suggest that we’re more likely to adhere to our workout routine when we do it in the morning
if you’re doing weight training, schedule your workout for those early-morning hours.
FOUR TIPS FOR A BETTER MORNING
1. Drink a glass of water when you wake up.
2. drink that first cup of coffee hour or ninety minutes after waking up, once our cortisol production has peaked and the caffeine can do its magic.
3. If you feel sluggish in the morning, get as much sunlight as you can
4. Schedule talk-therapy appointments for the morning.
2. Afternoons and Coffee Spoons: The Power of Breaks, the Promise of
Lunch, and the Case for a Modern Siesta
“A growing body of science makes it clear: Breaks are not a sign of sloth but a sign of strength.”
Early in the day, judges ruled in favor of prisoners about 65 percent of the time. But as the morning wore on, that
rate declined. And by late morning, their favorable rulings dropped to nearly
zero. So a prisoner slotted for a 9 a.m. hearing was likely to get parole while one slotted for 11:45 a.m. had essentially no chance at all
High performers, its research concludes, work for fifty-two minutes and then break for seventeen minutes.
hourly five-minute walking breaks boosted energy levels, sharpened focus, and “improved mood throughout the day and reduced feelings of fatigue in the late afternoon
people who take short walks outdoors return with better moods and greater replenishment than people who walk indoors.
relaxation breaks (stretching or daydreaming) eased stress and boosted mood in a way that multitasking breaks did not.
Lunch is the most important meal of the day.
The most powerful lunch breaks have two key ingredients—autonomy and detachment.
Naps also improve our overall health.
The ideal naps—those that combine effectiveness with efficiency—are far shorter, usually between ten and twenty minutes.
The Mayo Clinic says that the best time for a nap is between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
The most efficient nap is the nappuccino. The caffeine won’t fully engage in your bloodstream for about twenty-five minutes
Create a peaceful environment. Turn off your phone notifications.
There’s some evidence that habitual nappers get more from their naps than infrequent nappers
Even breaks that last a minute or less—what researchers call “micro-breaks”—can pay dividends.
We might think that superstars power straight through the day for hours on end.
In fact, they practice with intense focus for forty-five- to ninetyminute bursts, then take meaningful restorative breaks.
PART TWO. BEGINNINGS, ENDINGS, AND IN BETWEEN
Beginnings: Starting Right, Starting Again, and Starting Together
“Most of us have harbored a sense that beginnings are significant. Now the science of timing has shown
that they’re even more powerful than we suspected. Beginnings stay with us far longer than we know; their effects linger to the end.”
Four Situations When You Should Go First
If you’re on a ballot
If you’re not the default choice, going first
can help you take advantage of the “primacy effect,” the tendency
people have to remember the first thing in a series better than those that come later
If you’re interviewing for a job and you’re up against several strong candidates
Four Situations When You Should Not Go First
If you are the default choice
If there are many competitors
If you’re operating in an uncertain environment
If the competition is meagre
FOUR TIPS FOR MAKING A FAST START IN A NEW JOB
By mentally picturing yourself “becoming” a new person even before you enter the front door, you’ll hit the carpet running.
Let your results do the talking.
Sustain your morale with small wins
WHEN SHOULD YOU GET MARRIED?
Wait till you are old enough, by the age of 32
Wait until you’ve completed your education
Couples that had dated for more than three years were even less likely to split up once they exchanged vows
4. Midpoints: What Hanukkah Candles and Midlife Malaise Can Teach Us About Motivation
“When we reach a midpoint, sometimes we slump, but other times we jump. A mental siren alerts us that we’ve squandered half of our time.”
FIVE WAYS TO REAWAKEN YOUR MOTIVATION DURING A MIDPOINT SLUMP
To maintain motivation, and perhaps reignite it, break large projects into smaller steps.
Publicly commit to those interim goals
Stop your sentence midway through
To maintain focus, he prints a calendar with all 365 days of the year. He marks off each day he writes with a big red X
Picture one person your work will help
FIVE WAYS TO COMBAT A MIDLIFE SLUMP
write down your top twenty-five goals for the rest of your life.
Second, look at the list and circle your top five goals, those that are unquestionably your highest priority.
That will give you two lists—one with your top five goals, the other with the next twenty.
Third, immediately start planning how to achieve those top five goals.
And the other twenty? Get rid of them. Avoid them at all costs.
5. Endings: Marathons, Chocolates, and the Power of Poignancy
WHEN TO QUIT A JOB: A GUIDE
If your answer to two or more of these is no, it might be time to craft an end.
1. Do you want to be in this job on your next work anniversary?
2. Is your current job both demanding and in your control?
3. Does your boss allow you to do your best work?
4. Are you outside the three- to five-year salary bump window?
5. Does your daily work align with your long-term goals?
PART THREE. SYNCHING AND THINKING
Synching Fast and Slow: The Secrets of Group Timing
“Synchronizing makes us feel good—and feeling good helps a group’s wheels turn more smoothly.
Coordinating with others also makes us do good—and doing good enhances synchronization.”
SEVEN WAYS TO FIND YOUR OWN “SYNCHER’S HIGH”
1. Sing in a chorus.
2. Run together.
3. Row crew.
5. Join a yoga class.
6. Flash mob.
7. Cook in tandem.
FOUR TECHNIQUES FOR PROMOTING BELONGING IN YOUR GROUP
1. Reply quickly to e-mail.
2. Tell stories about struggle.
3. Nurture self-organized group rituals
7. Thinking in Tenses: A Few Final Words
“Most of the world’s languages mark verbs with time using tenses—especially past, present, and future
—to convey meaning and reveal thinking. Nearly every phrase we utter is tinged with time.”
I used to believe in ignoring the waves of the day. Now I believe in surfing them.
I used to believe that lunch breaks, naps, and taking walks were niceties. Now I believe they’re necessities.
I used to believe that the best way to overcome a bad start at work, at school,
or at home was to shake it off and move on. Now I believe the better approach is
to start again or start together.
I used to believe that midpoints didn’t matter—mostly because I was oblivious
to their very existence. Now I believe that midpoints illustrate something
fundamental about how people behave and how the world works.
I used to believe in the value of happy endings. Now I believe that the power
of endings rests not in their unmitigated sunniness but in their poignancy and meaning.
I used to believe that synchronizing with others was merely a mechanical
process. Now I believe that it requires a sense of belonging, rewards a sense of purpose, and reveals a part of our nature.
I used to believe that timing was everything. Now I believe that everything is timing
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