When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing – Daniel H. Pink Book Summary

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing – Daniel H. Pink | Free Book Summary

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing – Daniel H. Pink

Everything is timing.

Figure out your Daily When

3 step process –

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  • Determine your chronotype: Lark( morning type), Owl (night type), or Third bird (in between)
  • Determine what you need to do. Does it involve heads-down analysis or head-in-the-sky insight? Or are you trying to make a decision?
  • Look at this chart to figure out the optimal time of day

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

When To Exercise

  • Lose weight: Morning exercise (after waking up) may burn 20 percent more fat than later, post-meal workouts.
  • Boost mood: Do cardio workouts—swimming, running, even walking the dog—in the evening, or you’ll end up sleeping through some of the good feelings.
  • Keep to your routine: if you find yourself struggling to stick with a plan, morning exercise, especially if you enlist a regular partner, can help you form a habit.
  • Build strength: Our physiology changes throughout the day. If you’re doing weight training, schedule your workout for those early morning hours.

If you don’t have control over your daily schedule

Be aware: Simply knowing that you’re operating at a suboptimal time can be helpful because you can correct for your chronotype in small but powerful ways.

Work the margins: Even if you can’t control the big things, you might still be able to shape the little things. If you’re a lark or a third bird and happen to have a free hour in the morning, don’t fritter it away on e-mail. Spend those sixty minutes doing your most important work. Try managing up as well.

A Better Morning: Tips

  • Drink a glass of water when you wake up.
  • Don’t drink coffee immediately after you wake up.
  • Soak up the morning sun.
  • Schedule talk therapy, appointments for the morning.

The Break List

Each day, alongside your list of tasks to complete, meetings to attend, and deadlines to hit, make a list of the breaks you’re going to take.

Start by trying three breaks per day. List when you’re going to take those breaks, how long they’re going to last, and what you’re going to do during each. Even better, put the breaks into your phone or computer calendar so one of those annoying pings will remind you. Remember: What gets scheduled gets done.

The Perfect Nap

  • Find your afternoon through time: Around 2-3 pm  
  • Create a peaceful environment: Turn off notifications, dim the lights, etc.
  • Down a cup of coffee: The most efficient nap is the nappuccino. The caffeine won’t fully engage in your bloodstream for about twenty-five minutes, so drink up right before you lie down.
  • Set a timer on your phone for twenty-five minutes: Most important – not more than 25 minutes!
  • Repeat consistently

Breaks are not a sign of sloth but a sign of strength.

Pause Like A Pro

A psychologist who studies extraordinary performers, Ericsson found that elite performers have something in common: They’re really good at taking breaks.

In Ericsson’s study, one factor that distinguished the best from the rest is that they took complete breaks during the afternoon (many even napped as part of their routine), whereas non-experts were less rigorous about pauses.


They practice with intense focus for forty-five- to ninety-minute bursts, then take meaningful restorative breaks.

Four Situations When You Should Go First

  • If you’re on a ballot (county commissioner, prom queen, the Oscars)
  • If you’re not the default choice
  • If there are relatively few competitors (say, five or fewer) – for the advantage of the “primacy effect”
  • If you’re interviewing for a job and you’re up against several strong candidates, you might gain an edge from being first.

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