On Friday afternoons the Sense Worldwide team have a ‘Disciples of Innovation’ meeting in which we take 30 minutes to share something valuable with our colleagues to help us improve our collective output.
This Friday was my week…I brought Daniel H. Pink’s book ‘When: The Science of Perfect Timing‘.
Pink collates myriad research papers to explore the science behind the effect time has on us. Full of scary examples of how time can have unseen effects on our lives including:
One chapter focused on productivity…
Daniel suggests that all people fall into 3 categories:
To work out if you’re a lark, owl or third bird Pink suggests the following rough calculation:
But it’s not a simple as being productive at a single time of day…
Rather than simply being productive at one time Pink suggests that it depends on what task you’re looking to complete.
He suggests that we all have a ‘Peak’, a ‘slump’ and a ‘Rebound’. Depending on your bird type, these will happen at different times & in different orders. For example Larks peak in the morning, slump around lunch, then rebound in the early afternoon.
Research suggests that you should tackle analytical tasks during your peak, where you need to be cognitively sharp. You should then tackle creative tasks during your rebound when you’re a little cognitively fuzzy. This fuzziness actually helps us dial down our analytical minds, leaving us more open to inspirational insights.
If you want to map out your productivity in a more detail you can use Daniel Pink’s day planner, which can be found here. It helps you track your peaks & troughs to more accurately establish when you will deliver your best work (be that analytical or creative).
1) When you’re taking on a task outside of your optimal time, consider this fact and make small changes accordingly.
2) If you find a free slot in your schedule tackle work that suits that time
3) When you have the option, try to arrange work with others at a time that suits your personal rhythm. Even better coordinate it with other similar birds at an overlapping peak or rebound (depending on the task at hand).
4) Be aware that you will slump between your peak & rebound. You also won’t be optimised in your off phase, so cut yourself some slack if you’re finding the task tough.
5) Talk to your boss &/or team about coordinating your calendars to cater for your own peaks.