When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
“For a slim book,” Daniel Pink’s latest best-seller “brims with a surprising amount of insight and practical advice,” said Emily Bobrow in The Wall Street Journal. The author of Drive and To Sell Is Human has dived into the available research on the science of timing and come up with a strong argument that we think too little about precisely when is best to do the things we need or want to do. A lot of his tips stem from the predictable daily ups and downs in people’s cognitive ability and mood. Don’t schedule surgery or appeal a traffic ticket in the afternoon, for example, because doctors make fewer mistakes and judges are more lenient in the morning. The differences in how we function from hour to hour “should not be underestimated.”
Pink’s advice doesn’t end with daily scheduling, said Matthew Hutson in The Washington Post. It “covers arenas from work to marriage to sports, and time spans from milliseconds to decades.” The data says to spend at least a year with a potential partner before marrying, for example, and to switch jobs every three years if you’re seeking the biggest salary bumps. Regarding exercise, we learn that morning workouts are best for people seeking to lose fat, but those trying to achieve personal bests should target the afternoon, when performance peaks. And while Pink “doesn’t go deep into any area,” he does close with a case for why it makes no sense to “live in the moment,” as so many gurus counsel. Because we make better plans when we imagine our future selves and because nostalgia deepens our sense of life’s meaning, he says, the ideal mindset integrates past, present, and future.
The clock and calendar already dramatically shape how we live, said Glenn Altschuler in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Pink shows that people are most likely to run their first marathon at ages ending in 9—and that those ages are also when people are most prone to cheating on their spouses. In the end, we apparently can’t help seeing life as a story whose chapters demand big endings, and can’t help letting milestones goose our yearning for meaning. In When, “Pink delivers more than a fair share of it.” ■