When - The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

  1. "Inspiration paradox" - the idea  that innovation and creativity are greatest when we are not at our beset, at least with respect to our circadian rhythms. Students designing their class schedules might perform best in classes such as art and creative writing during their non-optimal compared to optimal time of day.
    Lose weight: when we first wake up, having not eaten for at least 8 hours, our blood sugar is low. Since we need blood sugar to fuel a run, morning exercise will use the fat stored in our tissues to supply the energy we need. (When we exercise after eating, we use the energy from the food we've just consumed). In many cases, morning exercise may burn 20% more fat than later, post-food workouts.
  2. Fully detached beats semidetached

    99% of us cannot multitask. Yet, when we take a break, we often try to combine it with another cognitively demanding activity - perhaps checking our text messages or talking to a colleague about a work issue. That's a mistake. In the same South Korean study mentioned earlier, relaxing breaks (stretching or daydreaming) eased stress and boosted mood in a way that multitasking breaks did not. Tech-free breaks also "increase vigor and reduce motional exhaustion." Or "psychological detachment from work, in addition to physical detachment, is crucial, as continuing to think about job demands during breaks may result in strain."
    Take a five-minute walk every hour - As we have learned, five-minute walk breaks are powerful. They're feasible for most people. And they're especially useful during the trough.
  3. If there are relatively few competitors (say, 5 or fewer), going first can help you take advantage of the "primary effect," the tendency people have to remember the first thing in a series better than those that come later.

    If you're interviewing for a job and you're up against several strong candidates, you might gain an edge from being first.
    If you are the default choice, don't go first. Recall from the previous chapter: Judges are more likely to stick with the default late in the day (when they're fatigued) rather than early or after a break (when they're revived).
  4. If there are many competitors (not necessarily strong ones, just a large number of them), going later can confer a small advantage and going last can confer a huge one. In a study of more than 1,500 live Idol performances in 8 countries, researchers found that the singer who performed last advanced to the next round roughly 90% of the time. An almost identical pattern occurs in elite figure skating and even in wine tastings. At the beginning of competitions, judge hold an idealized standard of excellence. As the competition proceeds, a new, more realistic baseline develops, which favors later competitors, who gain the added advantage of seeing what others have done.
    If you're operating in an uncertain environment, not being first can work to your benefit. If you don't know what the decision-maker expects, letting others proceed could allow the criteria to sharpen into focus both for the selector and you.

    If the competition is meager, going toward the end can give you an edge by highlighting your differences. "If it was a weak day with many bad candidates, it's a really good idea to go last."
  5. He was on the right track and aboard the wrong train. Something does indeed happen to us at midlife, but the actual evidence is far less dramatic than his original speculation.
    Don't break the chain (the Seinfeld technique)

    Jerry Seinfeld makes a habit of writing every day. Not just the days when he feels inspired - every single damn day. To maintain focus, he prints a calendar with all 365 days of the year. He marks off each day he writes a big red X. "After a few days, you'll have a chain," he told software developer Brad Issac. "Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that china, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain." Imagine feeling the midpoint slump but then looking up at that string of 30, 40 or 100 Xs. You, like Seinfeld, will rise to the occasion.
  6. Workday - Begin by taking 2-3 minutes to write down what you accomplished since the morning. Making progress is the single largest day-to-day motivation on the job. But without tracking our "dones," we often do not know whether we're progressing. Ending the day by recording what you've achieved can encode the entire day more positively. (Testimonial: I've been doing this for four years and I swear by the practice. On good days, the exercise delivers feelings of competition; on bad days, it often shows me I got more done than I suspected.)
    Now use the other 2-3 minutes to lay out your plan for the following day. This will help close the door on today and energize you for tomorrow.

    Bonus: If you've got an extra minute left, send someone-anyone- a thank-you email. Gratitude is a powerful restorative. It's an equally powerful form of elevation.
  7. Reply quickly to e-mail

    When I asked Congressional Chorus artistic director David Simmons what strategies he used to promote belonging, his answer surprised me. "You reply to their emails," he said. The research backs up Simmons's instincts.

    E-mail response time is the single best predictor of whether employees are satisfied with their boss. The longer it takes for a boss to respond to their emails, the less satisfied people are with their leader.
    Tell stories about struggle

    One way that group cohere is through storytelling. But the stories your group tells should not only be tales of triumph. Stories of failure and vulnerability also foster a sense of belongingness.
  8. Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
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When - The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
Daniel Pink