When is the book you carry around and thrust at people as soon as they start talking about how tired they are. Just what is this cultural enchantment we have with exhaustion? Aren’t we done yet? Let’s just all be tired of being tired and start mastering the secrets of chronotypes. Daniel Pink is here to show us what to do. With this research-based information, we can all be happier and healthier, prevent accidents, save millions of dollars, and even save lives.
This book is a how-to, or rather, as Pink says, a ‘when-to.’ Find out how to take a nap properly, when to exercise, when to schedule medical appointments, and when to go on job interviews, among other things. Although, it does raise the question, if everyone in society started taking this advice and feeling well-rested, would it be quite as important to time ourselves around other people’s internal schedules? Won’t that be the day.
I’m a night owl married to a lark. He wakes up around 5 AM without an alarm; if he wakes up at 4:30 for some reason, he just shrugs and goes to work early. There have been nights when I was still writing as he got up for the day. Let’s just say that it’s really obvious which one of us drives at night on road trips. It was interesting to read that people born in the summer are more likely to be night owls, and people born in the winter are more likely to be larks. That’s true for us. When he was born, there was six feet of snow on the ground, while I was born during a Tennessee heat wave. Apparently chronotypes change with age, and I’m just old enough in my forties to feel that this is true as well. It helps to feel a bit of validation about these natural rhythms, as I’ve felt that larks can be judgmental and critical toward night owls.
An example of this would be school start times, as Pink discusses in the book. Having raised a teenager, I can speak to this. What we think of as teenage traits (moody, surly, lazy, rude, sloppy, distracted, poor impulse control) correlate very strongly with the symptoms of sleep deprivation. Teenagers who actually get enough sleep are, in my experience, cheerful, funny, eager, enthusiastic, and empathetic. If we can ever drop our societal disapproval and caricature of “kids these days,” we’ll start seeing better grades and higher graduation rates, and maybe even a little less eye-rolling and aggrieved sighing.
The chapters on Beginnings and Endpoints really captured my attention because of my work with procrastination and chronic disorganization. It turns out that people are more likely to start projects at particular points in time, such as a Monday or the first of a month. Also, no matter the length of time given for a project, people pick up speed and improve their focus as soon as they realize they’re at the midpoint. That’s true whether they have ten minutes or ten months. This feels true, and I’ll use it in my work.
This is a breezy, interesting book with a lot of solid information that can quickly be adopted. My takeaway from When is that I’m going to continue to go to morning classes at my gym and work afterward, with a short nap break in the afternoon. I have to, because my upstairs neighbors like to run their blender at 6:30 AM, followed by the washing machine at 7:00 and the vacuum cleaner at 8:00. We’re still a long way away from a world that respects the need for sleep. Keep writing, Mr. Pink; we need you!
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.