(by Daniel Pink)
Part 1: The Day
Chapter 1: The Hidden Pattern of Everyday Life
- Human beings metaphorically "open" and "close" at regular times during each day, but those times aren't identical for everyone.
- During a given day we are typically least happy when commuting, and most happy when canoodling.
- Our cognitive abilities do not remain static over the day, but change, often in a regular, forseeable manner.
- These fluctuations are extreme, and the best time to perform a task depends on the nature of the task.
- Waking up raises our body temperature; for most of us this boosts our executive functioning so that our analytic capacities peak in the late morning or around noon.
- But our mental guards grow tired, and alertness plummets in the afternoons, which in turn reduces our ability to remain focused and constrain our inhibitions.
- A "flash of brilliance" required to solve an insight problem is more likely to happen when those guards are gone.
- Each of us has a "chronotype," or a personal pattern of circadian rhythms that influences our physiology and psychology.
- We are either a lark (early to rise), an owl (late to sleep), or a third bird (the rest, which is 60%-80% of the population).
- Larks and third birds experience the day as a peak, a trough, and a rebound. Owls experience it as a recovery, a trough, and a peak.
- Try to schedule your most important work, which requires clear thinking, into the peak. Schedule tasks that benefit from disinhibition into the rebound.
Chapter 1: Time Hacker's Handbook
- If you don't have full control over your schedule, simply understanding your chronotype and shaping the little things can minimize any harm.
- Exercise in the morning to lose weight, boost mood, keep to your routine, and build strength.
- Exercise in the evening to avoid injury, perform your best, and enjoy the workout a bit more.
- In the morning, drink water to rehydrate and control early hunger pangs.
- Only drink coffee 60-90 minutes after you've woken up, so that it doesn't interfere with producing cortisol, which wakes us up naturally.
- Schedule therapy sessions in the morning when your cortisol levels are highest; you will be more focused and absorb the advice more deeply.
Chapter 2: Afternoons and Coffee Spoons
- A "vigilance break" is a brief pause before a high-stakes encounter to review instructions and guard against any error.
- Regardless of our chronotype, the afternoon impairs our professional and ethical judgment.
- Inserting regular mandatory vigilance breaks into our tasks can help us regain the focus needed to proceed with challenging work in the afternoon.
- A restorative break can steer around the dangers of the trough.
- The best restorative breaks prefer moving over stationary, social over solo, outside over inside, and full detached over semi-detached.
- Most of the research showing the value of breakfast are observational studies rather than randomized controlled experiments.
- The best lunch breaks have a high degree of autonomy and detachment, and offer an important recovery setting to promote occupational health and well-being.
- Naps confer two key benefits: They improve cognitive performance and they boost mental and physical health.
- Ideal naps are between ten and twenty minutes; any longer and the napper experiences "sleep inertia," or that boggy feeling upon awakening.
- Caffeine takes about 25 minutes to enter the bloodstream, and so drinking coffee before taking your short nap helps you rebound quickly.
Chapter 2: Time Hacker's Handbook
- The Mayo Clinic has found that the best time to nap is between 2pm and 3pm.
- Drinking coffee and then setting a timer on your phone for 25 minutes to wake you is ideal, since it takes most people about 7 minutes to fall asleep.
- A good micro-break is the 20-20-20 rule: Every twenty minutes, look at something twenty feet away for twenty seconds.
- If you can't take a break outside, do the best you can by looking at some indoor plants or the trees outside your window.
- A fringe benefit of a social break is that you're more likely to take one if someone else is counting on you.
- Controlled breathing can help in under a minute: Take a deep breath, expanding your belly, pause, exhale slowly to the count of five, and repeat four times.
- When you and your team need to plow forward and get a job done even when in the trough, employ a vigilance break that combines a timeout with a checklist.
Part 2: Beginnings, Endings, and In Between
Chapter 3: Beginnings
- When we begin can have an outsize role in our personal and collective fortunes.
- The three principles of successful beginnings are: Start right, start again, and start together.
- Starting right means starting at the right time; this is difficult because we don't take issues of when as seriously as we take issues of what.
- Starting again leverages temporal landmarks to stand out from the ceaseless march of other days. They are either social (which are shared) or personal.
- Temporal landmarks allow us to open "new mental accounts," creating a new period that disconnects us from the past self's mistakes and imperfections.
- Temporal landmarks also slow our thinking, allowing us to deliberate at a higher level and make better decisions.
- Earning more requires matching your skills to an employer's needs, but those who enter the labor market in a downturn are stuck longer in jobs that aren't a good match for their skills.
- Starting together means engaging the wider community or ecosystem so that vulnerable people do not need to fend for themselves.
Chapter 3: Time Hacker's Handbook
- By imagining failure in advance, you can anticipate some of the potential sources and avoid them once the actual project begins.
- Go first if you're on a ballot, you're not the default choice, there are relatively few competitors (at most five), or you're going against several strong candidates.
- Don't go first if you are the default choice, there are many competitors, you're operating in an uncertain environment, or the competition is meager.
- When starting a new job, mentally picture yourself "becoming" a new person and "transforming" into your new role, especially for leadership roles.
- After starting a new job, set up and collect small wins. Later, once you've gained status by demonstrating excellence, become more assertive.
- Past the age of 32, the odds of divorce increase by 5 percent per year for at least the next decade.
- The more a couple spends on its wedding day and any engagement ring, the more likely they are to divorce.
Chapter 4: Midpoints
- Midpoints can either bring us down, in a slump, or can fire us up, as a spark.
- The midpoint of life deflates us because when we're young our expectations of our life are too high; when we're old, our expectations are too low.
- At midpoints of exercises, we relax our standards, perhaps because others relax their assessments of us. Knowing this can help us temper the consequences.
- Evolution is not slow and incremental. Instead "punctuated equilibrium" is a trajectory of dull equilibrium punctuated by swift explosions of change.
- Similarly, sometimes at a midpoint the realization that we squandered half our time injects a healthy dose of stress that revives our motivation and reshapes our strategy.
- Knowing you are only slightly behind where you want to be at a midpoint leads you to exert more effort. So imagine that is the case.
Chapter 4: Time Hacker's Handbook
- To maintain or reignite motivation, set interim goals, and then public commit to them by telling someone how and by when you'll get something done.
- The Zeigarnik Effect says we remember unfinished tasks better than finished ones, and so end the day partway through a task with a clear next step.
- If you're feeling stuck in the middle of a project, picture one person who will benefit from your efforts. This will deepen your dedication.
- A team coming together goes through "form and storm," where maximal harmony is replaced by conflict.
- During "form and storm," ensure all participants have a voice, that expectations are clear, and that all members can contribute.
- When team commitment is high, it's best to emphasize the work that remains. When it's low, it's wiser to emphasize the progress that's been made.
- After the midpoint, teams are less open to new ideas and solutions, but they are also the most open to coaching.
- In the last "perform" stage, ask your colleagues to step back, respect one another's roles, and re-emphasize the shared vision they're moving toward.
- When in a slump, doing a few important things well is more likely to propel you out of it than a dozen half-finished projects.
- Talking openly about the slump can help us realize that it's fine to experience some mid-career ennui.
- Slumps are normal, but they're also short lived, and so sometimes the best course of action is simply to wait and you'll rise out of it.
Chapter 5: Endings
- Because life transitions tend to prompt changes in evaluations of the self, we are most apt to evaluate our lives when a chronological decade ends.
- At the beginning of a pursuit, we're motivated by how far we're progressed. At the end, we're motivated by trying to close the small gap that remains.
- When we near the end of a project, we kick harder. This is why imposing a deadline, even an artificial one, can be so effective.
- Deadlines for creative tasks can reduce intrinsic motivation and stifle creativity. And for negotiations they can lead to sub-optimal outcomes.
- The James Dean Effect says we view a short life that ends on an upswing as more favorable than a longer life that ends on a downswing.
- The "peak-end rule" says that when we remember an event we assign the greatest weight to its most intense moment and how it culminates.
- The "duration neglect" means we downplay how long the event lasts and instead magnify what happens at the end.
- Older people have fewer total friends because they've begun "active pruning," or removing peripheral partners with whom interactions are less emotionally meaningful.
- Socioemotional selectivity says that our perspective on time shapes the orientation of our lives and therefore the goals that we pursue.
- The converse is also true, where expanding people's time horizons arrests their behavior of editing our relationships.
- The science of timing has repeatedly found that we have a preference for happy endings.
- But the best endings are poignant, or deliver both a mix of happiness and sadness, because such poignancy delivers significance.
Chapter 5: Time Hacker's Handbook
- Last lines can elevate and encode, by encapsulating a theme, resolving a question, or leaving the story lingering in the reader's head.
- Quit a job if you dread being there on your next work anniversary, or if it doesn't provide challenge and autonomy.
- Change jobs after you develop marketable skills but before you move up in leadership ranks, or usually three to five years after you start.
- Making progress is the largest day-to-day motivator on the job; writing down accomplishments at the end of the day encodes your day more positively.
- Also end your day by laying out your plan for the following day. This helps close the door on today and energize you for tomorrow.
Part 3: Synching and Thinking
Chapter 6: Synching Fast and Slow
- Pendulum clocks, which were far more accurate than their predecessors, remade civilization by allowing people to synchronize their actions.
- Groups must synchronize on three levels: to the boss, to the tribe, and to the heart.
- Timing requires a boss, or someone or something apart from the group to set the pace, maintain the standards, and focus the collective mind.
- Our internal clocks synching up with external cues so we wake up in time for work or go to sleep at a reasonable hour is called "entrainment."
- Groups need zeitgebers, or environmental signals that can synchronize the circadian clock, such as fiscal years or sales cycles.
- The drive for belonging is innate, and for group coordination it comes in three forms: codes, garb, and touch.
- The more cohesive a team is, or the more they chat and gossip, they more they get done.
- Feeling good promotes social cohesion, which helps us synchronize. Synchronizing with others feels good, which deepens attachment and improves synchronization further still.
- Operating in synch expands our openness to outsiders and makes us more likely to engage in "pro-social" behavior.
Chapter 6: Time Hacker's Handbook
- To maintain a well-timed group, you should regularly ask: Do we have a clear boss? Are we fostering a sense of belonging? Are we feeling good and doing good?
- Email response time is the single best predictor of whether employees are satisfied with their boss.
- One way that groups cohere is through storytelling, but not just of triumph. Stories of failure and vulnerability foster a sense of belongingness.
- The most valuable group rituals emerge from the people in the group, instead of being orchestrated or imposed by those at the top.
Chapter 7: Thinking in Tenses
- "Time" is the most common noun in the English language and nearly every phrase we utter is tinged with time. In some sense, we think in tenses.
- We plan more effectively and behave more responsibly when the future feels more closely connected to the current moment and our current selves.
- As with nostalgia, the highest function of the future is to enhance the significance of the present.
- The path to a life of meaning and significance is to integrate our perspectives on time into a coherent whole, which helps us comprehend who we are and why we're here.
Last modified 18 April 2022