This week we’re learning how to nail perfect timing with New York Times bestselling author Daniel Pink. Listen to Daniel explain why certain hours of the day are more productive than others, what chronotypes are and how they impact your energy throughout the day, how we can battle the mid-afternoon slump, and why certain dates are more effective for starting a new routine than others.
Highlights from this week’s episode
From the Daniel Pink Interview
On the best time of day to be productive:
We typically move through the day in three stages: peak, trough, recovery. Peak early in the day, trough in the middle of the day, early to mid-afternoon, recovery, late afternoon, early evening. What we know is this during the peak, which for 80 per cent of us is early in the day (not for [night] owls. We’ll get to that in a moment.) For 80 per cent of us during that peak period, that’s when we are most vigilant. Vigilance means we’re able to bat away distractions. So what the research shows very clearly is that during that peak period, we should be doing our analytic work. Analytic work is simply work that requires heads-down focus and attention.
On the importance of taking breaks during the mid-day slump:
We have undervalued breaks…I had started out saying, ok, I’m going to write about the pattern of the day and breaks are gonna be a few pages in there. And when I start looking at the research on breaks, breaks ended up with their own chapter because there’s so much great research on breaks. So what we should be doing is we should be taking during that trough period, we should be taking breaks, more breaks. We should be taking certain kinds of breaks. What we know from the research on breaks is that breaks where you’re in motion, where you’re moving are more restorative than breaks where you are sedentary. In a world of social distancing now, breaks with other appropriately done breaks with other people are more restored and the breaks on your own. Breaks that are fully detached — that is, you’re leaving your phone behind. And actually some really amazing research on how being outside is more restorative than being inside. So we should be taking more breaks, being very intentional about the breaks.
On the best dates to start a new habit or lifestyle change:
So temporal landmark, if you think about a physical landmark, you’re trying to find your way somewhere. You’re expecting to see a certain landmark. And what do you do when you get to that landmark? You slow down a little bit. You orient yourself. And there’s certain dates that operate as temporal landmarks. They get us to slow down…There’s certain dates where we essentially open up a fresh ledger on ourselves and say…“It’s a new day and I’m opening up a fresh ledger.” And so what it means is that for behaviour change, people are more likely to begin behaviour change and therefore more likely to sustain that behaviour change on some dates versus others. So if you want to say start a new productivity regime or a new way of eating or exercise some like that, you’re actually better off starting on a fresh start date. So a Monday rather than a Wednesday. On the first of the month rather than the 17th of the month. On the day after your birthday, rather than two weeks before your birth date, certain dates are more powerful in that way.
To hear more of Daniel’s brilliant tips on timing, we recommend hearing the full episode!