Derek Sivers

When - by Daniel Pink

When - by Daniel Pink

ISBN: 0735210624
Date read: 2018-04-17
How strongly I recommend it: 7/10
(See my list of 320+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

A quick, entertaining, and informative book focusing on the effects of timing on your life. All points are kept extremely practical and applicable to life and job/work.

my notes

Positive affect: rose in the morning, plummeted in the afternoon, and climbed back up again in the early evening.

The Mimosa pudica’s leaves opened in the morning, closed in the evening. The plant wasn’t reacting to external light. It was abiding by its own internal clock.

Sharp-minded analytic capacities peak in the late morning or around noon.

Having math in the first two periods of the school day instead of the last two periods increases the math GPA of students.

Insight problems require less vigilance and fewer inhibitions.
Innovation and creativity are greatest when we are not at our best.

The fit between a person’s chronotype and the time of day offers a more complete predictor of that person’s ethicality than does time of day alone.

All of us experience the day in three stages - a peak, a trough, and a rebound. And about three-quarters of us (larks and third birds) experience it in that order.
But about one in four people, those whose genes or age make them night owls, experience the day in something closer to the reverse order - recovery, trough, peak.

About 62 percent of the creators followed the peak-trough-recovery pattern, where serious heads-down work happened in the morning followed by not much work at all, and then a shorter burst of less taxing work.
About 20 percent of the sample displayed the reverse pattern - recovering in the mornings and getting down to business much later in the day.

Morning exercise may burn 20 percent more fat than later, post-food workouts.

Testosterone levels peak in the morning.
Testosterone helps build muscle, so if you’re doing weight training, schedule your workout for those early-morning hours.

But for later-in-the-day workouts, our muscles are warmer and injuries are less common.
Working out in the afternoons not only means that you’re less likely to get injured, it also helps you sprint faster and lift more. Lung function is highest this time of the day, so your circulation system can distribute more oxygen and nutrients. This is also the time of day when strength peaks, reaction time quickens, hand-eye coordination sharpens, and heart rate and blood pressure drop.

A twenty- to thirty-minute break “to eat, play, and chat” before a test: their scores did not decline. In fact, they increased.
If there were a break after every hour, test scores would actually improve over the course of the day.

If we stick with a task too long, we lose sight of the goal.

Frequent short breaks are more effective than occasional ones.

Work for fifty-two minutes and then break for seventeen minutes.

Take hourly five-minute walking breaks.

Being close to trees, plants, rivers, and streams is a powerful mental restorative.

An afternoon nap expands the brain’s capacity to learn.
Ideal naps are between ten and twenty minutes.

Caffeine, followed by a nap of ten to twenty minutes, is the ideal.

January 1 is what social scientists call a “temporal landmark.”
Just as human beings rely on landmarks to navigate space - “To get to my house, turn left at the Shell station” - we also use landmarks to navigate time.
Certain dates stand out and their prominence helps us find our way.
We can use them to construct better beginnings.

The “fresh start effect”:
Days that represent “firsts” switch on people’s motivation.
To demarcate the passage of time, to end one period and begin another with a clean slate.
The same way that a business closes the books at the end of one fiscal year and opens a fresh ledger for the new year.
This new period offers a chance to start again by relegating our old selves to the past.
It disconnects us from that past self’s mistakes and imperfections, and leaves us confident about our new, superior selves.

When people take a big picture view of their lives and thus focus on achieving their goals.

Start acting on days framed as fresh starts.
Meatless Mondays will be far more effective than Vegan Thursdays.

In any dynamic system, the initial conditions have a huge influence over what happens.

By imagining failure in advance - by thinking through what might cause a false start - you can anticipate some of the potential problems and avoid them once the actual project begins.

Happiness climbs high early in adulthood but begins to slide downward in the late thirties and early forties, dipping to a low in the fifties.
Then well-being later in life often exceeds that of our younger years.
In our naïve twenties and thirties, our hopes are high, our scenarios rosy. Then reality trickles in.
Over time we adjust our aspirations and later realize that life is pretty good.
In short, we dip in the middle because we’re lousy forecasters.
In youth, our expectations are too high. In older age, they’re too low.
In the middle, we relax our standards, perhaps because others relax their assessments of us.

When we reach a midpoint between a known start and finish, a mental siren alerts us that we’ve squandered half of our time.
That injects a healthy dose of stress - Uh-oh, we’re running out of time! - that revives our motivation and reshapes our strategy.
Teams made their most significant progress during a concentrated midpoint burst.

The most motivating wake-up call is one that comes when you’re running slightly behind.
Being down by one at halftime was more advantageous than being up by one.
Merely telling people they were slightly behind an opponent led them to exert more effort.

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

The fast finish effect: When we near the end, we kick a little harder.

Deadlines are often effective.
People given a hard deadline - a date and time - are more likely to sign up than those for whom the choice is open-ended.

They evaluated a life with twenty-nine years of treachery and six months of goodness the same as a life with twenty-nine years of goodness and six months of treachery.

When time is expansive and open-ended, (when young) we orient to the future and pursue “knowledge-related goals.”
We form social networks that are wide and loose, hoping to gather information and forge relationships that can help us in the future.
When time is constrained and limited, (when old) we attune to the now.
We pursue different goals - emotional satisfaction, an appreciation for life, a sense of meaning.
And these updated goals make people highly selective in their choice of social partners.
We omit needless people. We choose to spend our remaining years with networks that are small, tight, and populated with those who satisfy higher needs.
What spurs editing isn’t aging per se, but endings of any sort.
students in their final year displayed the same kind of social-network pruning

People informed that a chocolate was last liked it significantly more than any other chocolate they’d sampled.

Screenwriters understand the importance of endings that elevate.
An artist gives us the emotion he’s promised, but with a rush of unexpected insight. That often comes when the main character finally understands an emotionally complex truth.
The story has its protagonist achieving the goal he wants - only to realize it is not what the protagonist needs.

Children who played a rhythmic, synchronized clap-and-tap game were more likely than children who played nonsynchronous games to later help their peers.

For choral meetups around the world, go to

Nostalgia can foster positive mood, protect against anxiety and stress, and boost creativity. It can heighten optimism, deepen empathy, and alleviate boredom.

Strong-future languages such as English, Italian, and Korean require speakers to make sharp distinctions between the present and the future.
Weak-future languages such as Mandarin, Finnish, and Estonian draw little or often no contrast at all.
Speakers of weak-future languages were 30 percent more likely to save for retirement and 24 percent less likely to smoke. They also practiced safer sex, exercised more regularly, and were both healthier and wealthier in retirement.