Like most people, I’ve spent a large part of my life thinking about time and the lack of it. The most common aspect put forward has always been “make the best of it”.
If we don’t have much time, then we should use what we have and make it worthwhile after all, right?
This means we’ve been asking “How” constantly.
However, Daniel H. Pink, in his book “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing”, has a different take on that.
He did some extensive research into where the matter of timing is important and how to make use of that component in our daily lives and I found there are incredible takeaways in there.
Here are a few ways on how to make use of timing instead of simply time.
Find Your Personal Patterns
We’ve all heard waking up early is the best solution for success in life. After all, most successful people do wake up early, don’t they?
Despite being well aware that we have different DNA and have grown in very various ways in life, we tend to believe the timing of efficiency stays the same between everybody.
In fact, there are three general patterns which rely on when we sleep and wake up.
Most people are what Pink called “Third Birds” and their midpoint of sleep is between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m., then there are “Larks” whose midpoint is before 3 a.m., and finally “Owls” for whom the midpoint is after 6 a.m.
Based on which type you are, your mind will be more available for Analytic tasks, Insight tasks or making a decision, at a specific time in the day.
For example, handling analytic tasks would be best to do early morning for Larks, Early to mid-morning for Third owls and late afternoon and evening for Owls.
Knowing your own patterns is the best way to be efficient as you can use your brain in its most efficient state at the right time.
Obviously, we all know our type pretty much only through when we wake up, which is quite often controlled by work or school.
Pink advises to track our behaviour for a week, checking every 90 minutes what we are doing, how alert we feel on a scale of 1 to 10 and how energetic we feel at that time on a similar scale.
This can allow us to discover times when our body and mind are in their best capacity.
Even if we don’t have much control over our schedule, being aware of your own style provides you with the opportunity to work the margins and use bits of time here and there doing what we would be best at.
Beginnings don’t have to happen once
Through knowing your own rhythm, you can make sure you start at the right time.
However, unfortunately, we don’t always get it right or simply don’t have much of a choice.
In such case, you can always start again.
Give yourself the time to start once more on what matters to you. It might be better to start afresh instead of forcing your way through at a bad timing.
We use temporal landmarks for pretty much anything, whether it be the start of a new year, an anniversary or your birthday.
Making use of such landmarks is a great way to give yourself a new start, forgetting about the past and moving forward.
Good news is: There are tons of potential days for fresh starts.
Here are just a few:
- The first day of the Month (12)
- The first day of the Week: Mondays (52)
- The first day of a season (4)
- Your birthday
- Anniversaries (wedding, work, even divorce if you want it)
- The day your learnt about the importance of timing maybe?
- And so on.
The Midpoint doesn’t have to be that bad
Ever heard of the term “midlife crisis”?
Well, University of Houston professor Brené Brown has an incredible definition for “midlife”. She says:
It’s the period “when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you ‘I’m not f*ing around, use the gifts you were given.’”
Quite powerful, isn’t it?
Well she’s quite right, when we get to the middle of anything, where life or just a project, we tend to be at the bottom of a “U” form graph. We’re in a slump.
Does it mean we just have to wait and it’ll go back up? No. Not always at least.
It simply means that reaching the middle of something is a sign for us to start thinking about the second half. What can we do to better our actions, the meaningfulness of them, etc.
Don’t let yourself down just because you can’t seem to see the end. There will be one.
And you’re the only one who has the keys to make it a good one.
Can endings be a good start?
It’s been observed that about half the runners in every marathon are first timers. Among those almost half are what are called “9-enders”.
What are those? People in their last year of the decade (19, 29, 39, etc. years old).
The reason behind this is the goal of achieving something before starting that big new decade.
Furthermore, it’s been observed that when we are get closer to the end of something, we will push harder than in the middle, and sometimes even more than at the beginning.
So why not take a look at where you are and see if you want to kick harder near those finish lines?
The Nappuccino Technique
Here’s what blew my mind more than anything else in that book: taking a coffee right before a nap.
Don’t worry, if you don’t like cappuccinos, you can take another type of coffee or even just tea or other drinks with caffeine in them.
The premise behind this is easy:
- Caffeine takes about 25 minutes to kick in.
- The best naps are between 10 and 20 minutes
- It takes an average of 7 minutes to nod off
Drinking coffee right before taking a nap won’t prevent you from falling asleep and will at the same time allow you to both stave off sleepiness and increase performance afterwards. Isn’t that the best?
Now, don’t get the whole idea wrong!
It goes without saying that just knowing when to do a certain task and when to do another is extremely useful.
But it doesn’t mean you should do it randomly! Learning to dig on the “how” of whatever you want to accomplish is crucial after all.
The most important? Combining the two. Never forget anything you want to accomplish will need more than one skill. The actual task of accomplishment is just the same: it needs the “when” just as much as the “how”.