Intro: DOIs

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:

  • the best time of day to stand trial
  • when to have a quarterly earnings call
  • how test results correlate with time taken

One chapter focused on productivity…


What Type Of Bird Are You?

Daniel suggests that all people fall into 3 categories:

  1. Morning Larks – early risers & productive in the morning
  2. Night Owls – late sleepers & productive in the evening
  3. Third Birds – sitting somewhere in the middle

To work out if you’re a lark, owl or third bird  Pink suggests the following rough calculation:

  1. Figure out the midpoint of your sleep cycle on what are called “free days,” the days when you don’t have to wake up to an alarm clock. This will most likely be on your days off or during the weekend.
  2. If your midpoint of sleep is 3:30 a.m. or earlier, you’re probably a lark.
  3. If your midpoint of sleep is 5:30 a.m. or later, you’re probably an owl
  4. If your midpoint is somewhere in between, you’re probably a third bird

But it’s not a simple as being productive at a single time of day…


What Task Are You Tackling?

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.


Follow Up Activity

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).



Tips For Using Harnessing Your Type

1) When you’re taking on a task outside of your optimal time, consider this fact and make small changes accordingly.

  • if you’re not in the analytical phase take a walk beforehand to boost your mood
  • if you’re asked a question repeat it back before answering to ensure you’ve understood it correctly.

2) If you find a free slot in your schedule tackle work that suits that time

  • Tackle analytical work at your peak
  • Tackle creative work in your rebound phase

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.

  • Maybe you’re best missing an internal meeting that falls in your peak when you have a chunk of data analysis to be completed. Which activity is going to drive the most value for the company?
  • Maybe you could start work earlier or later to cater for your bird type.
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