Wednesday, March 7, 2018


I am a big Dan Pink fan.  I like his work and his outlook.  He seems very down to Earth and real.  In his book Drive he talks about what motivates us.  It really helped me think about how I interact with my students and the kind of work they do.

His latest book is called When - The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. The whole thing is super fascinating to me.  The book is divided into three sections - The Day; Beginnings, Endings and In Between; and Synching and Thinking.

In The Day section, Pink presents data about the rhythm of our days.  Wow, that sentence sounds boring! But Pink presents it in a much more interesting way.  He's skilled at during data into stories.  Pink shows that we definitely have a lull in our day.  Our moods generally rise through the morning, dip in the afternoon and then rise again in the evening.  Pink also introduced me the idea of being a "third bird". Larks are extreme morning people, owls are extreme night people and third birds are neither, they are the middle of the bell curve.  Most of us are third birds.  At the end of each section, Pink offers Time Hackers Handbook - practical ways to use the information he's presented.  I used that section to help me find my most productive times of the day.  He also offers suggestions of what to do if you can't control your productivity schedule.

In this section Pink also talks about resting during the day.  I am a napper. I love to sleep so this was particularly interesting to me.  He introduced me to a 'napaccino'.  This is when you drink a coffee then take a 25 minute nap and wake up refreshed and ready to go.  25 minutes is the key because that's how long it takes to get the coffee into your system.  Assuming, of course, you don't constantly drink coffee and it stays in your system....

This section also reiterates the need for recess in schools.  When kids get restorative breaks their achievement goes way up!

Interesting Tidbit from The Day Section - our chronotype (lark, owl or third bird) changes with our age.

The second section is Beginnings, Endings and In Between.  Again, lots of great information here about when and how to start things.  He also talks about the idea starting things in the right way.  A fascinating portion was about starting together.  Pink talked about college graduates who graduate into a sluggish economy and the effect on their long term earnings.  Hospitals see a July effect - when new residents start and errors increase.  To solve this problem hospitals have new residents start their work with seasoned doctors and nurses and the error rate falls.  One of the Time Hacker's  Handbook give advice for when to go first and when not to go first. 

The In Between data was very interesting as well.  We all know we tend to lull in the middle.  We start strong, loss steam then gear up for the end.  Pink shares so fascinating information about how teams work in this section.  He says that teams usually experience a burst of work at exactly the midpoint of their time together.  This is helpful to me as a teacher to know when my students are working in groups.  They are going to mess around a bit but then get serious at the halfway point. 

Interesting Tidbit from the Beginnings, Endings and In Between Section - people in mid-career could benefit from mentoring as much as people who are new to their career. 

The last section of the book is called Synching and Thinking.  This section deals with our timing together, how our groups come together.  Pink uses a fascinating case study of the dabbawalas in India.  Dabbawalas collect lunches from homes and deliver those lunches to office buildings each day with an extraordinary accuracy rate.  And they do it without technology.  I'd love to go see it in person! 

The most interesting part of this section is the portions on belonging.  When we feel like we belong to a group, things tend to run smoother and the group is more productive.  Pink outlines three things groups need to have to promote a sense of belonging: codes, garb and touch.  This really made me think about the sports teams my boys are on as well as how I can help kids feel like they belong at school. 

Interesting Tidbit from the Synching and Thinking section - NBA teams who touch each other more often (high fives, fist bumps, chest bumps...) win more often even when the talent level is accounted for. 

When is a fast paced read.  I didn't feel like any portion of it dragged.  I learned so much that I can apply to all areas of my life - family, school, church.  I highly recommend When!

You can learn more about Dan Pink and his work at his website  You can follow him on Twitter at @danielpink

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