Nov. 10, 2019

When by Daniel H. Pink: How You’re Not Spending Your Day the Best Way

Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Overcast podcast player badge
PocketCasts podcast player badge
YouTube podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge

Sign up to the bookmark newsletter:

About the author

Daniel H. Pink is the author of six provocative books — including his newest, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, which spent four months on the New York Times bestseller list and was named a best book of 2018 by Amazon, iBooks, Goodreads, and several more outlets.

His 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, have been translated into 39 languages, and have sold three million copies worldwide. He lives in Washington, DC with his family.


Click here to buy on The Book Depository

About the book

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.

Drawing on a rich trove of research from psychology, biology, and economics, Pink reveals how best to live, work, and succeed. How can we use the hidden patterns of the day to build the ideal schedule? Why do certain breaks dramatically improve student test scores? How can we turn a stumbling beginning into a fresh start? Why should we avoid going to the hospital in the afternoon? Why is singing in time with other people as good for you as exercise? And what is the ideal time to quit a job, switch careers, or get married?



Find infographics, videos and guides here to support the ideas in When:


BIG IDEA 1 (4:58) – Peaks, troughs and why our days all wrong.

This book is about how we design our days the wrong way. Various studies have found most people operate in a peak, trough and rebound pattern. A peak is around 7 am or so, trough is throughout the morning, (with a little rebound around lunch time), trough between 3 to 5 pm again and then rebound in the early evening.   

This impacts everything. It is where we find that those afternoon troughs are incredibly dangerous in some industries. For example in the hospitals where there’s a dip in the afternoon in diagnosis, mistakes and errors.

Studies were done in many earnings calls where they ran algorithms over the vocal, tone and the outcome whether they were run in the morning or in the afternoon. Afternoon earnings calls of listed companies resulted in stock misquoting. 

Based on the timing alone it was found out that afternoon earnings calls are bad for the business. They also found out that those calls in the afternoon are more tense and combative.  

Our cognitive ability changes throughout the day. We are best and worst for certain type of things for different times of day. Most people are better at analytical tasks in the morning while in the afternoon, we are better at insights and creativity problem. 

The difference between us at our best and us at our worst is the equivalent of being over the legal limit of alcohol for driving, yet we are regularly forced to work through this in the existing 9-5 model.

BIG IDEA 2 (9:54) – Larks, owls and third birds.

The idea in the book is that everyone has chronotype; our biological preference of when we are at best according to our circadian rhythms. There are three categories that people fall into. 

An easy version to test yourself is to think about the day where you don’t have to set an alarm, choose when you go to bed and get up at your own preference. Think about your midpoint, so if you sleep from 10pm to 6am your midpoint is 2am. A midpoint between 12 am to 3 am is a lark (14% of population),  3:30 am to 6am midpoint is a third bird (65% of the population) and a midpoint of 6 am onwards is an owl (21% of the population). 

This gives your circadian rhythm or style. Larks and third birds peaks early in the morning while owls are the other around and peak in the evening, often when others are already getting ready for bed. A lot of creators, writers and inventors in history who have recognised these patterns, have used it to their advantage, scheduling their days and work around their best self. Unfortunately, the world is not generally built for owls.

There was also a portion in the book about naps and how they can help us do our best work. Longer naps are good for health and longevity while shorter naps are great for productivity. Check out Daniel’s website for the recipe for the perfect nap… or a ‘nappucino’.

BIG IDEA 3 (15:43) – Beginnings, middles and ends. 

There were sections in the book regarding the importance of thinking more about *when* you are doing something and not *what* you’re doing. Beginnings are getting off to a good start, choosing a good time and doing a pre-mortem of what could possibly go wrong before you start to avoid your own pitfalls. 

Middle is about keeping momentum, this may involve setting yourself midway point in projects and in life, goals and milestones to stop or promote speeding things up or leveling up some more. 

Finally is to plan well to end well. For work, spend some time planning what you’re going tomorrow first thing in the morning rather than having to make decisions at that point. Say thank you to someone by giving someone a quick text or call to say thank you for the work they’ve done. 

If you’re coming towards the end of your career, think about how you want to be remembered – endings are sticky and a lot of your legacy will come down to how you spend your final months with people.

Music By:  Watch Out – Instrumental Version Song by Chaun Davis

Let’s Connect


Instagram: @stephsbizbookshelf

Join in the book club conversation all week by joining the Facebook group:

Enjoying the show?

Please hit subscribe so you don’t miss an episode and leave a review on iTunes to help others find us.

See for privacy information.

Hey, have you subscribed to the bookmark newsletter? If you liked this, you might like my twice-monthly email with book reviews and ideas of what you should be reading, and listening to, next. Click here to subscribe.

Let’s connect