Week Four: ‘When: the Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing’ by Daniel H. Pink

This is Week Four of the #CEOChallenge – to read 52 books in a year – follow along for weekly insights into some of the worlds most influential books. Enjoy!

According to DeskTime, a productivity tracking software, “the most productive 10% of users have in common… the ability to take effective breaks” (88).

Daniel H. Pink, author of “When: the Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing“, set out on a journey of asking ‘When To?’ questions instead of ‘How To?’ questions – the results are incredible!

There is a lot to talk about in this book but, to keep this post under 500 words I will selectively talk about two major pieces. Here goes!

What Is Your Chronotype?

On a holistic scale, most people follow a generic pattern of productivity and efficiency. Though, we can find variance when we separate people into three categories: Larks, Owls, and Third Birds. Most people will generally know where they fit on the spectrum but, the way these categories are separated is by taking your normal sleeping hours (on a weekend or holiday), and finding the midpoint of your sleep (ie. if you sleep at 10:00pm and wake up at 8:00am, your midpoint is 3:00am).

Larks: midpoint 12:01am – 2:59am

Third Birds: midpoint 3:00am – 5:59am

Owls: midpoint 6:00am – 11:00am

Generally, the Larks and Thirdbirds both follow the pattern of increased productivity through the morning and having a huge dip between the hours of 2:00pm and 5:00 pm. If you fall into these categories it would be best for you to take effective breaks that stimulate productivity during the low times of the day.

If you are an Owl, then it almost flips the schedule upside down from the Lark and Third Bird. Owls perform analytical skills best late at night, whereas Larks and Third Birds perform these kinds of skills best around 11:00am.

How to Take Effective Breaks

  1. The practice of taking a break is the first step to effective breaks. DeskTime, as mentioned earlier, performed a study showing that the most productive users have the same ability to take effective breaks. Statistically, they found that these users took a 17-minute break every 52 minutes.
  2. Take walking breaks. Mobility increases concentration, motivation, and creativity.
  3. Take breaks with people. Social breaks can be really stimulating for your brain, so grab a friend when you take that next break.
  4. Outside is better than inside! If you live in the great white north like I do, bundle up and head outside! The sun can do wonders for boosting your productivity! And lastly;
  5. Fully disconnect! This is probably the hardest one to do but, to leave behind whatever you were working on is vitally important for taking successful breaks. Leave your phone at your desk so you don’t think of what you could be doing. And, don’t talk about your work, talk about social things like the latest sports game instead!


If you champion these simple steps from Pink’s research you will be on your way to becoming more productive, regardless of the time of day!

Leave a comment below with your tips for becoming more productive in your workday!

Daniel H. Pink is one of today’s greatest influencers, and I highly recommend reading this book. As well, follow him on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn for daily insights into making better habits!

See you next week,



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