According to author Daniel Pink, “we simply don’t take issues of when as seriously as we take questions of what.”
In his outstanding book, When: the Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Pink suggests that timing really is everything. Here is a bitesized chunk of his findings:
Firstly, we all experience the day in three stages: peak, trough, and rebound. About 75% of us experience the day in that order. If you are part of the majority, take note of the inspiration paradox—the fact that, surprisingly, we are most innovative and creative when not at our best. Consider working on analytical tasks during the peak and creative work during the trough.
If not managed effectively, the trough can be a perilous time of day. Pink offers several ways to help combat its effects: take breaks; where possible, take time to be out in nature; go for a walk for five minutes of every hour; spend time with people during breaks (not talking about work). In fact, according to his research:
“If you’re looking for the Platonic ideal of a restorative break, the perfect combination of scarf, hat and gloves to insulate yourself from the cold breath of the afternoon, consider a short walk outside with a friend during which you discuss something other than work.”
To my absolute joy, the author elevates the importance of naps to combat those pesky trough periods. Napping might be my favourite hobby, so I very much appreciate this! The bad news is that, to avoid the effects of sleep inertia (that horrendously groggy feeling you get from waking mid sleep cycle), scientists suggest setting your alarm for just 25 minutes for your snooze.
Daniel Pink dedicates the rest of his book to discussing beginnings, midpoints, and endings. When turned out to be one of my favourite books of 2018 and has drastically changed the way I go about my day. I’d highly recommend reading it. However, in this short post, if you simply leave feeling more encouraged to reorder your creative endeavours and analytical tasks, get up from your desk every hour (something I struggle with), take lunch (something I also struggle with) and take naps (something I struggle not to do!), my work here is done.
Here’s the key: it’s not about working more; it’s about working more effectively. Happy napping!