Daniel Pink (@DanielPink) is the author of New York Times Best Seller When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, which examines the psychology, biology, and economics behind scheduling for optimal effect — and why your ideal time to get something done may widely differ from someone else’s.
What We Discuss with Daniel Pink:
- Timing is everything — but we’re only now beginning to connect the dots between fields of research to discover the science behind how timing actually works.
- How humans are wired for time by chronotypes, how to identify our own particular chronotype, and what we can do to match our schedules to this chronotype.
- What the trough is, how it differs according to chronotype, and how it affects the decisions we make — for better or worse.
- How observing the nappuccino and other restorative breaks during the day can minimize the worst effects of the trough.
- Why lunch is really the most important meal of the day.
- And much more…
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When considering the time of day during which you’re most productive, you probably already know if you’re a morning person, a night owl, or somewhere in between. You probably also know how hard it is to change from one of these chronotypes to another — but would you feel better if you knew there are more variables at play than your sheer willpower?
In this episode, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing author Daniel Pink helps us identify our particular chronotype and maximize productivity accordingly. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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More About This Show
Time and the way human beings relate to it has been pondered and studied for as long as there have been human beings. So why are we only now beginning to truly understand the variables that hold sway over this relationship? When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing author Daniel Pink explains:
“What I found as I started working on this is that all of these researchers in all of these different fields — whether they start with the body and biology or whether they start outside of the body to the lived experience of human beings, they’re all asking very similar questions about time. But they weren’t talking to each other. So the endocrinologists weren’t talking to the economists, who weren’t talking to the anthropologists, who weren’t talking to the molecular biologists.
“But they were all asking very similar questions: what’s the effect of time of day on what we do and how we do it? How do beginnings affect us? How do midpoints affect us? How do endings affect us? How do groups synchronize their time? So what I tried to do here is go wide and deep into this research and say, ‘This research, if we wrestle it to the ground, it can help us make better decisions about when to do things informed by evidence and data, not simply by our intuition and guesses.'”
Circadian Rhythm Entrainment
While our biology on a cellular level is keenly aware of the passage of time, we also take social cues from our environment — from the light of the sun to the darkness of night to the schedules that send us to work and school — that result in the entrainment of our circadian rhythms. But when we’re removed from the presence of these cues, strange things start to happen.
“The human daily cycle runs longer than 24 hours,” says Daniel. “It’s something like 24 hours and 11 minutes. So if you put people underground without any of these social cues, over time, they start to go out of sync with the above-ground world. So they are falling asleep at three in the afternoon in the external world and waking up at 11 p.m. in the external world and living it up between midnight and eight a.m. in the external world. So it’s this complex synchronization between our biology — our chronotype — and all the social cues.”
The Daily Pattern of Positive and Negative Sentiment
It might seem like an urban legend that time of day can have any measurable, consistent effect on overall positive and negative sentiment, but research has shown that it undoubtedly matters. In one study, the morning timing of a company’s earnings calls proved more positive than calls in the afternoon — and this had serious repercussions.
“Even if you control for the news that’s being reported, calls in the afternoon were more negative, irritable, and combative than calls in the morning,” says Daniel. “Now that’s interesting, but it has a material effect on thing because what they also showed is that negative sentiment led to temporary stock mispricings. Because of that negative sentiment, the price of the stock was tugged lower than it should have been. Now that’s a big deal!”
Daniel also points out that these earnings calls are made by CEOs and CFOs — reasonably competent and well-prepared executives trusted to make huge decisions on a corporate level.
“Even then, these diurnal patterns — these daily patterns — are affecting them invisibly,” Daniel says. “This is the key point: what we know is our days have a hidden pattern and they exert an influence that we often can’t see.”
Further research shows these patterns also influence decisions made in courtrooms, hospitals, and schools — which makes a strong case for clearing any potentially life-or-death scenarios from your calendar early in the day.
What’s Your Chronotype?
When do you feel like you’re really operating at your cognitive peak? This determines your chronotype.
“About 20 percent of us are very strong evening people — owls,” says Daniel. “15 percent of us are [very strong morning people] larks. Two-thirds of us are in between. So there are some people who can regularly get up at three o’clock in the morning. If they’re sacrificing sleep in order to do that — and remember, if you want to get eight hours of sleep and wake up at three o’clock in the morning, you have to go to sleep at seven p.m.”
Our chronotypes can change as we age, but a conscious shift is very difficult to will into existence.
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about how we can determine what our own chronotype happens to be (if we don’t know already), how we should schedule our day by chronotype, how the season of our birth may influence the chronotype we wind up with, chronotype tendencies that go beyond hours of peak vigilance, how we might adjust to work a schedule that goes against our chronotype (or convince our work to adjust to us), the tasks ideal for our peak, trough, and recovery times, when we should exercise, why we probably shouldn’t have a cup of coffee immediately upon waking (but embracing the nappuccino is a-ok), and lots more.
THANKS, DANIEL PINK!
If you enjoyed this session with Daniel Pink, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
Click here to thank Daniel Pink at Twitter!
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And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink
- Other books by Daniel Pink
- Daniel Pink’s website
- The Pinkcast
- Daniel Pink at Facebook
- Daniel Pink at Twitter
- Physiology of Circadian Entrainment by Diego A. Golombek and Ruth E. Rosenstein, Physiological Reviews
- Oh What a Beautiful Morning! Diurnal Influences on Executives and Analysts: Evidence from Conference Calls by Jing Chen, Elizabeth Demers, and Baruch Lev, Management Science
- To Get Parole, Have Your Case Heard Right after Lunch by Kate Shaw Yoshida, Ars Technica
- Stereotypes as Judgmental Heuristics: Evidence of Circadian Variations in Discrimination by Galen V. Bodenhausen, Psychological Science
- Automated Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (a useful alternative to the Munich Chronotype Questionnaire [MCTQ] Daniel mentions)
- Nappuccino: A Scientific 5-Step Guide to the Perfect Nap by Daniel Pink
- The Zamboni: Where Did It Come From?, HowStuffWorks
- Yale Study: Starting Career During Recession Can Damage Salary for Decades by Lauren Cooper, AOL.com
- Time and Transition in Work Teams: Toward a New Model of Group Development by Connie J.G. Gersick, Academy of Management Journal
Transcript for Daniel Pink | When Is the Best Time to Get Things Done? (Episode 63)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:00] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always. I'm here with my producer, Jason DeFillippo. Today, we're talking with Dan Pink. He's an author of four books about work management, behavioral science. Honestly, everything Dan writes is gold. I highly recommend it. He has four bestsellers including the one we'll be discussing today entitled When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Today, we'll explore the idea that timing is everything. The problem is we just don't know that much about timing itself. We'll also discover how humans are wired for time, what this means for us, and what we can do to make sure our wiring matches our work schedules. We'll also hear about something called the trough, how this affects us as a society and as individuals, why some people go to prison for longer or even die because of it and how we can learn to mitigate the damage caused by what amounts to bad timing.[00:00:53] By the end of the show, you'll know how to time the right type of work to the right type of day and time, all of that with your sleep schedule. So this is a really useful episode in my opinion. Don't forget, we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you understand everything that Dan and I are talking about here, and get those practicals under your belt. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast.
[00:01:15] Now, here's Dan pink. As a fellow former lawyer, I love reading books that are researched this way, because if there's one thing we learned in law school aside from how to incur crushing debt, it's how to do some research.
Daniel Pink: [00:01:27] Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:28] We've all heard the expression timing is everything, and the problem is that we just, we don't really know much about timing itself. Nobody seems to really be researching a lot about timing as a concept. It's just been kind of a cliché and then as science has grown a little bit closer to knowing like some people are morning people and other people aren't ,something any teenager who's in high school can tell you. We find that humans are wired for time. Can you give us a brief overview of how we are wired for time, the SCN circadian rhythm type of thing?
Daniel Pink: [00:02:00] So you know, you're talking in part about biology of it. It's not everything but it's incredibly important. So one way to think of it is as follows. So there's this notion out there, at least in the popular understanding that human beings have a biological clock, and that is kind of sort of true. But basically, what scientists have learned, pretty recently actually is that, well, it's not quite right that we have a biological clock. We have the SCN, which is a shorthand version of a part of our hypothalamus that regulates some of our rhythms. That's sort of like the mega clock, the Big Ben. But we basically have biological clocks in every cell in our body. We are in some ways walking time pieces. We have time and timing, literally imbued in our physiology, and that's really important.
[00:02:56] And so even these things that as you say, that this popular hold, “Oh, I'm a morning person. I'm an evening person.” There's a whole field called chronobiology that has said, “Yeah, some people are morning oriented, some people are evening oriented, some people are in the middle.” And so recognizing the biology of that is enormously important. And there is also research though on timing that goes beyond our biology and our physiology. In fields like economics in fields like anthropology, cognitive science, social psychology, even in medical fields like anesthesiology and endocrinology. And what I found as I started working on this is that all of these researchers and all these different fields, whether they start with the body and biology or whether they start with sort of outside of the body to the lived experience of human beings, they were all asking very similar questions about timing, but they weren't talking to each other.
[00:03:59] So the endocrinologists weren't talking to the economists, who weren't talking to the anthropologists, who weren't talking to the molecular biologists, , but they were all asking very similar questions. What's the effect of time of day on what we do and how we do it? How do beginnings affect us? How do midpoints affect us? How do endings affect us? How to groups synchronize in time? And so what I tried to do here is go wide and deep into this research and say, you know, whoa, this research. If we, if we wrestled to the ground, it can help us make better decisions about when to do things informed by evidence and data, not simply by our intuition and guesses.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:32] What about the social cues that we use? A lot of people think, okay, well yeah, I've got the circadian rhythm, I'm a morning person, this other person's a night owl, et cetera, and we'll get to that. But we use things like schedules and again, going back to the teenager example, getting up early in the morning for high school and we can dive under this later. This is miserable and we don't fit together with the adults at that age.
Daniel Pink: [00:04:55] What you're describing in part is, is a process known as entrainment. The way that we navigate the world is based part on, let's go back to the biology, is based part on our biology of, again, what's called our chronotype. Whether we're morning people, evening people in the middle, but we are biological creatures, but we're living in a situation in an environment. And so what's called entrainment is we entrain to social cues so that schedules you said, but also especially light and dark. And so there are experiments out there where you put people underground so that you don't have those kinds of cues. They don't have cues about work schedules or train schedules. They don't have cues about light and dark. And the human daily cycle runs longer than 24 hours. So something like 24 hours and 11 minutes. And so if you put people underground without any of these social cues, over time, they start to go out of sync with the aboveground world. So they are falling asleep at 3 o'clock in afternoon in the external world and waking up at 11 p.m in the external world and living it up between midnight and 8 a.m in the external world. So it's this complex synchronization between our biology, what's our chronotype, and all the social cues that you just mentioned. And then teenagers are just another really interesting case that we can get to talk about more of.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:23] Before we get into the whole timing of teenager that are our best time of day and things like that. Let's dive into some examples of timing, let's say that are almost like an urban legend type example, and I'm missing the phrase here. For example, the timing of earnings calls mattered regardless of other factors, right? Morning calls were more positive than the afternoon. I think a lot of us, especially those of us that went to law school have at some point been sent the anecdote, well, you know, if you go to court after lunch, you're going to get it or right before lunch or whatever it is, you're going to get us stronger jail sentence and it's like horrifying, right?
Daniel Pink: [00:06:57] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:58] How accurate is this and what exactly are we looking at here? What phenomenon is causing this?
Daniel Pink: [00:07:02] Good question. So I'm on the first part, it's very accurate. There again, this is one of those areas where different domains have done various kinds of research showing the same kind of effect. So let's talk about corporate earnings calls. That's a study from NYU where they used a program, a computer program that's basically giant text analyzer. They took the transcripts of these earnings calls, put them into the text analyzer, and the text analyzer can measure the emotional valence of the words. It’s the word conveying a positive sentiment, a negative sentiment, a neutral sentiment. And what they found was that the sentiment, positive and negative sentiment followed a daily pattern. And they said that basically the mood was better in the morning and worse in the afternoon. So then they said, well that must be because companies with bad news want to dump it in the afternoon until they checked that controlled for that, and that wasn't the case. Even if you control for the news as being reported, calls in the afternoon were more negative, irritable, and combative than calls in the morning.
[00:08:01] Now that's interesting, but it has a material effect on things because what they also showed is that that negative sentiment led to temporary stock mispricings, because of that negative sentiment, the price of the stock was tug lower than it should have been. Now that's a big deal and if we think about that particular example there, you're talking about corporate earnings calls. These are CEOs and CFOs go, you know who are generally reasonably competent people. They are extremely well prepared going into these calls, and they have a lot at stake. And even then these diurnal patterns, these daily patterns are affecting them invisibly. And this is the key point, that what we know is that our days have a hidden pattern and they exert an influence that we often can't see.
[00:08:46] So let's go to law for a second. You mentioned that there's a famous study out of Israel about a judges making decisions about parole. And what they found was exactly what maybe the bar room chat outside the courthouse was telling you. And it turned out that people were more likely to get parole early in the day and immediately after the judge had her break. If you came in certain instances, if you were the parolee, I don't even know what they call it. The petitioner in that, you know, sort of asking for parole. If you came before the judges break, you had a 10 percent chance. If you came right after the judges break, you had about a 70 percent chance. There's even experimental evidence, of jury decision making. So there's another pretty well known study where they gave a, it's an experiment. It wasn't a live jury. I mean, it wasn't a, you know, an actual jury.
[00:09:35] They had two groups of participants who were acting as jurors, large groups of people. Every group had the same set of facts. But in the first group they divided in half. One person had a defendant named Robert Garner. The other person had a defendant named Roberto Garcia, but on the same set of facts, all right? And then they had another group that deliberated in the afternoon. Same deal, same set of facts. Half of them, one defendant's name is Robert Garner, the other ones, other half, the defendant's name is Roberto Garcia. And what this study found was that when jurors deliberate it in the morning, they rendered the same verdict for Garner and Garcia, because it's the same set of facts. But when they deliberated in the afternoon on the same set of facts, they were more likely to exonerate Garner and convict Garcia. So racial bias increases during that time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:25] Yeah, I was going to say afternoons are racist is what we're talking about, from the sound of it here.
Daniel Pink: [00:10:31] I wouldn't go that far. I would say that I would say in some ways it's better and worse than that. Here's what it is, and this is like as central point from the research as you can possibly find. It's this, our cognitive abilities don't stay the same throughout the day. They change, they change in predictable ways, and they can sometimes change in dramatic ways. So our decision making capacities, our analytic capacities, our creative capacities are not the same at different times of day. That's the most important thing to know about this. And so left our own devices, we will make different decisions at different times of day, literally on the same set of facts, and not being aware of that propensity is dangerous. It's dangerous to us as individuals. It's dangerous to organizations, and as we see in these studies of juror and judged decision making, it's dangerous to society.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:27] I can understand this, and of course, when I joked that afternoons themselves are racist, obviously that's not possible, but I think it does make sense for us to pay attention to how our moods and performance oscillate during the day.
Daniel Pink: [00:11:39] Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:40] There's a trend now among, especially among entrepreneurs and I'm sure this is not something that has passed you by where it's like, “Oh, what you need to do is get up at 4 a.m,” and do all. You just need to get up earlier and it's like there's people getting at 3:30 in the morning. Is this just as simple as getting up earlier or being a morning person?
Daniel Pink: [00:11:59] No, part of this has to do with chronotype, which is you know, are you a morning person or an evening person? And here's the distribution. About 15 percent of us are very strong morning people. About 20 percent of us are very strong evening people, owls. 15 percent of us are larks, 20 percent of those are owls. Two-thirds of us are going between. And so yeah, there are some people who can regularly get up at 3 o'clock in the morning, if they're sacrificing sleep in order to do that. And remember, if you want to get eight hours of sleep and wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning, you have to go to sleep at 7 p.m, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:34]. Good luck with that.
Daniel Pink: [00:12:34] Yeah. So I don't think I, exactly, I don't think they're doing that. So I think that there's a kind of a mythology around people who are these supposed bad-asses who are. Listen, Jordan, I would love to be that person. I would love to be the kind of bad-ass who gets up at 4 o'clock in the morning, works out, read three newspapers in three different languages. And it's like at the office at 6:15 before the evening the cleaning crew. But you know what? That's not me. While I'm a morning-ish person, I actually have a chronotype that’s early but not super early, and that tends to be very hard for me to sustain, especially if it cuts into sleep.
[00:13:12] So the idea that you can just get up, everybody can just get up earlier. That's easier said than done. It's not very sustainable. What's more? There are some of us that that chronotypes are relatively fixed. They change as we age, but at a particular moment they're relatively fixed. So if you're an evening person and you actually reach your cognitive peak, your peak analytic powers at 4 or 5 in the afternoon and all the way through 10 at night, you just can't will yourself to be a lark. It's not going to work. I mean, here's the thing. Listen, I would love to be able to dunk, all right? I can't will myself to dunk, all right? It'd be easier for me to dunk if I were 6 foot 10 rather than 6 feet.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:52] Yeah, I suppose that would be true. It depends on how good your ups are as you know, but.
Daniel Pink: [00:13:58] Right, right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:59] Yeah.
Daniel Pink: [00:14:00] Well, I'm assuming my ups aren't that great because I made at 6’10.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:03] That's right.
Daniel Pink: [00:14:03] Not 6’3, 6’4.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:04] You have to be able to actually physically just reach the basket without jumping at all, and you'll be fine. So this makes sense. You can't just will yourself to be a morning person if you're not, for example, and that's a generalization, but I think people understand that. I think another problem is, and tell me what you think of this. If we were the kid as I think we all were, who had to sleep til 10 a.m when we were 17, and just wondered how in the hell anyone got up before 10 or 10:30. As we become adults, and as I went to age 30 plus and I still just couldn't do anything before 9 a.m. Now I get up around 6, I'm totally fine.
[00:14:42] I think as we age, this changes. But the problem is I just still think for years I just thought, well, I'm still the kid who has to sleep in. So when I started up early, I thought something was wrong. And so as our chronotypes change, we might not really update our identity to go along with it. And I know, I know there's a ton of—
Daniel Pink: [00:15:01] That's a good point.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:02] Fellow entrepreneurs and just regular folks out there that have trouble getting up early and think, “Oh, I'm lazy.” Or my parents assumed that I'm lazy because I know my parents, they told me when I was a kid, “Oh, you're so lazy. You sleep so late.” And then of course, I talked to my grandma and they're like, “What is he talking about?” He slept regularly, slept till this hour at your age, regularly, you know, and we forget as we get older. So if this is something that we can't necessarily change manually, obviously what we need to do, or I assume what we need to do is calibrate to our best time of day, if possible. So first things first though, how do we discover this? If you're a morning person, you probably know it. But if if you're not, how do we know if we're just not getting enough sleep because we're going to bed too late playing Xbox or if we're actually dealing with a different chronotype?
Daniel Pink: [00:15:53] There are different ways to measure your chronotype. One of them is something called the Munich ChronoType Questionnaire, the MCTQ, which is a typical kind of psychological assessment, scientifically validated. But you can also do it in a pretty accurate back of the envelope way that takes about 45 seconds. I mean, I could do it with, I could do it with you. I could figure out your chronotype right now.
Jordan Harbinger: [0 0:16:12] Let's do it. Let's do it.
Daniel Pink: [00:16:14] So I want you to think about, okay, so there's an important word here, phrase, free day. I want you to think about a free day. A free day in chronobiology is when the day when you, Jordan, don't have to get up to an alarm clock and you're not massively sleep deprived that you're trying to catch up on sleep, right? You're just like, you can go to sleep and wake up anytime you want, just naturally. What time would you typically go to sleep?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:34] I probably would end up in bed around 11.
Daniel Pink: [00:16:38] Okay. And what time would you typically get wake up?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:40] 7:30 maybe? Yeah, around there.
Daniel Pink: [00:16:43] So let’s call it, let's call it 7, just to make the math a little easier.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:47] Okay.
Daniel Pink: [00:16:47] So you go to sleep at 11 wake up at 7, and what we're doing here is we're figuring out your midpoint of sleep on a free day, all right? So your midpoint of sleep, if you go to sleep at 11, and wake up at 7, your midpoint of sleep is going to be—
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:06] 3 a.m.
Daniel Pink: [00:17:06] 3 a.m.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:07] Yeah.
Daniel Pink: [00:17:07] Okay? So here's what we know. If your midpoint of sleep is before 3:30, you're probably a lark, a morning person. If your midpoint of sleep is after 5:30, you're probably an owl. And if it's between 3:30 and 5:30, you're probably middle. So you are a, I mean, you test as a lark. Does that seem as a morning person?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:30] Yeah.
Daniel Pink: [00:17:30]Does that seem accurate to you? Yeah. You're not like a wild and you're not like out like an insane crazy morning person. I mean you're not like at that far end of the day, you're not that into distribution and so that's your chronotype, and basically what it means is that even though there probably are some days in your entrepreneurial life when you have to be working at 11 p.m, working at 11 p.m probably isn't ideal for.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:52] No.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:17:55] You're listening to the Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Daniel Pink. Stick around and we'll get right back to the show after these important messages.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:01] This episode is sponsored in part by ZipRecruiter. I know the CEO of this, he actually listens to this show, and I'm just impressed with this business. You know hiring is challenging. There's one place where you can go or hiring is simple, fast, and smart and isn't going to have you phishing through unqualified resumes. They use some pretty impressive machine learning when it comes to those as well. And that's ZipRecruiter, ziprecruiter.com/jordan if you want to go check it out. They send your job to over a hundred of the web's leading job boards, but they don't stop there. They've got machine learning, matching technology and some pretty cool algorithmic stuff going on that we don't have time to explain here , that scans thousands of resumes to find people with the right experience and then invites them to apply to your job. And as those applications come in, ZipRecruiter analyzes them, puts the top candidates right in front of you at the top there. And 80 percent of employers who post on ZipRecruiter get a quality candidate through the site within the first day. Not too bad. So check out ZipRecruiter for free at ziprecruiter.com/jordan. That’s ziprecruiter.com/jordan. J-O-R-D-A-N.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:19:07] Hey Jordan, did I hear that right? I think it's ziprecruiter.com/Jordan, and I do believe ZipRecruiter is the smartest way to hire .
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:05] By the way, I know a lot of people have been asking me about the Six-Minute Networking course that we have. It's a mini course on networking and relationship development. I go through a lot of the little hacks, drills, exercises that I do daily, weekly, just a few minutes a week to reach out to other people, maintain relationships, build relationships with influencers, people that were or will become guests on the show and how I use systems to create and maintain those relationships as well. And so I put it together in a little mini course called Six-Minute Networking. It's at jordanharbinger.com/course. This is the stuff I wish I had known 10, 15 years ago and I want everyone to it. So go check out jordanharbinger.com/course, and let me know what you think and that'll be linked up in the show notes of course as well.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:20:54] Hey, thanks for listening and supporting the Jordan Harbinger Show. To learn more about our sponsors, visit jordanharbinger.com/advertisers. And don't forget to check out our Alexa Skill. Go to jordanharbinger.com/alexa, or search for Jordan Harbinger in the Alexa App and get started today. Now, let's get back to Jordan and Daniel Pink.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:14] Jason and I have discovered that if I've got a show, and I don't know if this is true for you also Dan, but it when I'm doing a bunch of interviews like you are on your book tour, if I've got something booked at 3 p.m, it's not my best work. And if I've got something booked at 4 p.m, you should probably cancel it because if it doesn't go well in the host is not on point. I'm just going to hate that person forever. And it's not fair to them.
Daniel Pink: [00:21:36] Yeah, yeah. No, that's a fair point. So what we should, what you should do is that, so for people who are morning people and even people who are intermediate people now, they tend to have their peak in the morning. And the peak, what the peak means is simply this. They'll narrow what it means. It simply means that's when you are highest. We are highest in vigilance, right? Vigilance. What does it mean to be vigilant? Vigilance means that you're able to bat away distractions and you're able to focus. And that makes the peak the best time to do analytic work. Work that requires that heads down focus and attention. Analyzing data, writing a report. All right, so for about 80 percent of us, remember two-thirds of us are in the middle. 15 percent are larks, you know, so that's roughly 80 percent of us, we tend to have our peak, our analytic peak, our vigilance peak in the morning.
[00:22:35] Now for the 20 percent of people who are evening types who are night owls, it's different. They have their analytic peak much, much later in the day. So they're the ones who are better off doing, like, let's say if you're a writer, you know, they're better off doing it. Writers who are night owls are much better off doing their writing at 7, 8, 9, 10 p.m, whereas, me, I'm not, I'm larky, I'm not as much of a lark as you,, I'm much better up doing my writing in the morning and that's how I've reconfigured my day. So that I do my writing, when on my writing days, I always write in the morning and I cleared the decks to make sure I don't even have any temptations. I'm better at batting away distractions, but I can rearchitect my environment to even to keep even more distractions at bay.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:18] We figured out our chronotype, and then we can plan our day around that. Discovering our best time of day, figuring out probably a better time to go to sleep because I think a lot of us deal with that, right? We don't go to sleep on time. That was one of the ways that started getting up early by the way, was going to bed earlier. Even if I thought I wasn't tired and then realizing I fell asleep within 10 minutes, which meant I was much more tired than I thought I was. And then I would get up earlier and I went, “Oh.” And of course, now you get up early, you get up at 6, three days in a row, you want to go to bed at 10, at that point because you're freaking tired. So sometimes it just takes a little bit of a reset, right? Yes, there's some age groups stuff. Yes, there's some winter birth. How accurate do you think that research was? If you're born in February, you're more likely to be a lark, or you're born in winter, because I was born in February, you're more likely to be a lark, maybe as an adult, not as a teenager. Has that been holding true since you've been looking into this type of thing?
Daniel Pink: [00:24:14] You know, that's what the research says. I mean, it's not, it's not like, you know, again, it's a correlation and a probability. So being born in the winter actually correlates with being lark, but we don't know whether there's actually causation there and the correlation isn't such that you're guaranteed to be a lark, if you're born in later in the year. As a causal theory is that it has to do with exposure to sunlight while you're in the womb and that that can have an effect in your chronotype.
[00:24:48] So I think it's an interesting phenomenon and it shows that who we are as human beings in a broader sense is affected by all these kinds of variables that we're not even aware of. But I would just, you know, for the sake of your listeners who are just thinking, okay, how can I figure out my chronotype and how can I figure out the best time of day to get stuff done? I don't think they need to worry too, too much about it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:09] Yeah. The point really is that chronotypes are essentially born, not made. At least that's what we're seeing so far in the research.
Daniel Pink: [00:25:15] Very much. Very much. Exactly. Perfectly said. And the other thing about it is that you, the point about teenagers. Let's just go back to that for a moment. Our chronotype change over age. So little kids are very larky, and as you say, Jordan, in the mid-teens to the mid-20s, people have this greater move toward lateness. Sometimes two, three hours toward greater lateness that ends up disappearing in general, in the mid-20s. And then for most people, again, not 80 percent of people, not to 20 percent of people who are just confirmed hardcore owls for about 80 percent of us. We come out of that, that period of peak owliness, and then return over the years as we age to greater and greater larkiness. So if you look at age groups, again, there's going to be individual variation. But if you look at age group, like older people have chronotypes that are very similar to little kids.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:12] And we don't have to get too much into this because I think it's no mystery that older people get up earlier. It's really a cliché, right? Why is this guy awake at 5 a.m? Why are there, why is there a line outside the Denny's or whatever at 4:30 in the morning, you know. What's going on here? And that's sort of the joke there. And of course, it's like they're taking naps in the afternoon and things like that of course. But I saw some other interesting slash disturbing things in your book as well. Namely that morning people in this a stereotype, or was this something that was the result of research? Morning people are more emotionally stable, more positive. Evening people tend to have dark content. That's research.
Daniel Pink: [00:26:51] Yeah, that's research.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:52] That’s scary.
Daniel Pink: [00:26:52] Yeah, that's research. That's research.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:53] Let's talk about that.
Daniel Pink: [00:26:52] That's research, yeah. That's the research. But again, it's showing correlations that if you look at say larks versus owls, there are across populations, okay? Again, it's not true for every single person, but across populations there are that on the big five personality inventory, larks are more, more extroverted. They’re more conscientious. They're less neurotic. Whereas people who with evening chronotypes are more introverted. They're less conscientious. They're less agreeable. They're a little bit more neurotic. However, those folks also test higher on intelligence tests, the owls. They test higher on tests of creativity. So there are some of these personality characteristics and chronotypes are correlated with each other. You can't say, “Oh, that dude is introverted because he's an owl.” “Or look at that introverted guy, he must be an owl,” or you can't go to that. You can't get to that level of causation or individuality. But across broad populations, yeah, these trends are pretty clear.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:03] Yeah. That's cool. And I appreciate that you put that in there. Because right now people are like, “I'm a night person and how dare you”, right? But then like, “Oh, but I'm smart.”
Daniel Pink: [00:28:11] Yeah, Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:12] So I’m smart. So it's fine.
Daniel Pink: [00:28:13] But I mean, I say that because I just, you know, one of the things that I would really like is much greater statistical literacy out there in the world. So, when you talk about these broad trends, the example that I always use is if you say to people like exactly what you say. So if I say, you know, in general research has shown that, that owls tends to be more introverted than larks. And then you have someone saying, but I'm an owl and I'm extroverted. It's like, “Okay, that's fine.” Like these two things can still be true. All right. Because I'm not saying every single owl is introverted, I'm saying across broad populations, that's the tendency.
[00:28:49]. So it’s sort of like saying, are men generally taller than women? Yes. Have you ever met a woman who was taller than a man? Yes. Does that disprove the first point? No. So anyway, this is our little, this is a courtesy of Jordan and Jen. Well, it's really like the, the recapitulation of the second lecture you have in your statistic class.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:08] Yeah. And I think we go through this a lot in law school, right? It's like bias. It's bad. How do we mitigate it? Oh, we kind of can't. Everybody's screwed. Okay, great. Here's a lot agree. And there's a lot of problem with that. And of course, looking at our chronotypes in our work schedule, I assume that if we can match our chronotype to our work schedule, this is ideal, but how do we match our chronotypes to our work schedule when we don't control our freaking work schedule, right? I have to go to work.
Daniel Pink: [00:29:36] That's a great question. Yeah, no, it's great question. It's a big issue for a lot of people. I think it's hard to do. I think what you have to do really is work the margins or a couple of ways to do that. First, let's say, and I think the bigger issue here is owls who have to work in the conventional work world. So people who really get going, who hit their analytic peak late in the day when everybody is going home, and are less mentally acute early on in the day when everybody has to be in the office. So I think there are a few things. Number one is that I think unfortunately a lot of people say, well what can I do to, when we talked about this earlier, what can I do to change myself to accommodate the environment? And I actually think what we're better off doing is how can we accommodate the environment to better serve individuals. That individual shouldn't have to change the environment to change.
[00:30:25] So one thing that people can do, and again the big problem was with owls and the larks world is you know, if you're comfortable doing it, have a conversation with your boss about it and maybe your boss will be open to a little bit greater flexibility in your schedule. And the more this idea of science of timing, and all this gets out there, the more less likely it's going to become that the boss says, “Oh that dude is just lazy because he doesn't want to come in at 8 o'clock in the morning.” So having that conversation is one way to work than lark. The other thing is you just have to take, again, it's mostly for owls. You have to take some affirmative steps. I mean, let me give you an example.
[00:31:04] Let's say that you're an owl and you have an 8 o'clock, 8 a.m meeting. That's really miserable. So the owls and the audience, in your audience who are listening to this are saying, “Oh my God, that's just awful. I hate that.” But let's say you can't get it, let's say you don't have full control, and you can't avoid that. What I would recommend in that circumstance for the owl is the following. The night before, during your peak, okay? Remember you're hitting your analytic peak much later in the day, the night before, think about the meeting and think about what do you need to get done at this meeting? What questions do you need to have asked? What questions do you need to answer? What information do you need to derive? And actually make yourself a little checklist. Make yourself a little checklist and bring it into the meeting with you. So you don't have to draw on your hazy, fuzzy 8 o'clock in the morning memory. Then before the meeting, I would recommend taking a walk around the block outside. Maybe buying somebody a cup of coffee, which is a good, you're doing a good deed as a really excellent mood booster. So take a break, do something, take a walk around the block, do a good deed for somebody. That'll boost your mood, sharpen your alertness a little bit in the combination of that with the checklist. Might be able to get you through that 8 o'clock meeting.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:15] All right. So we can try to negotiate the situation a little bit. And what about figuring out, I think all of us can probably do this. What about figuring out the type of task that we do during the day? So if you're not a morning person, but we end up having to go to work at 8, because that's life. Maybe we don't do our hardcore manufacturing, hands-on QA tasks or whatever the first thing. Maybe we get our paperwork out of the way. Like maybe we can rearrange our day within the boundaries of the job itself.
Daniel Pink: [00:32:43] Exactly. And that's really, really good point too. So let's go back to the 80 percent majority here. Remember we go through the day and these three stages, peak, trough, recovery. During the peak, as we talked about at length, that's when we're best at analytic work. That's when you should be doing that kind of work. During the trough which is early to mid-afternoon, our performance drops considerably and we should be doing and our brainpower again is not the greatest then. So that's when we should be trying where possible to do some of our administrative work. Doing the kinds of tasks that you just said are answering routine email. And then during the recovery, which for 80 percent of us is later in the day, it's an interesting time because our mood goes back up. However, our vigilance does not go back up, our vigilance and remains low.
[00:33:28] But that combination of high mood and low vigilance can be powerful for certain kinds of cognitive tasks. Things that require some degree of mental looseness, iterating ideas, brainstorming things that where you don't want to be too vigilant and focused. And so a set of tasks that social psychologists call insight tasks. These are tasks that don't necessarily bend to mathematical logic that often have non-obvious solutions and whatnot. And so the general rule here, the general design principle is I do your analytic tasks during the peak, your administrative tasks during the trough, and your insight tasks during the recovery.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:07] What about exercise? What type of task is that? Do we do that during peak time or do we do that when we're not as focused?
Daniel Pink: [00:34:15] Yeah, some good research on that, and basically the main choice, I mean, I don't recommend doing exercise during the trough, because we're just not that mentally sharp. If that's the only time you have to do it, then I would absolutely do it. It's better up to extra lies during the through and not the exercise at all. So we think about exercising early versus late. It really depends on your goals. The research lays out pretty clearly here. Morning exercises is better. It seems to be better for habit formation. That people are more likely to stick with an exercise habit if they, if they do it in the morning. I'm guessing, I don't know that I'm just speculating here that that's probably because they're less likely to get interrupted at 7:30 a.m than they are at 5 p.m. Morning exercise seems to be better for weight loss, although exercises is actually much less effective for weight loss than we realize.
[00:35:02] And also exercise provides an enduring mood boost. I think this is an important one. So when we exercise our mood is boosted and that mood boost can last a decent amount of time. So if you actualize in the morning, you'd get that mood boost a big portion of the day. If you exercise in the late afternoon, early evening, you're going to sleep away some of that mood boost. You're going to squander it. However, afternoon exercise is good for other kinds of things, afternoon or early evening exercises are good for other kinds of things. It's good for a performance, your performance improves. There's no question about that between late afternoon and early evening, our hand eye coordination is better, our speed is greater, our lung function is higher. And you actually see a disproportionate number of world records and speed events being set between 4 p.m and 7 p.m local time.
[00:35:52] Afternoon exercise is better for avoiding injury because of rises and body temperature. So we're literally more warmed up, and I'm an afternoon early evening exerciser for the final reason, which is this. Afternoon, early evening exercise, people reporting enjoying it more. And I think, again, I'm speculating, I think that's largely because of body temperature. They're more warmed up, they enjoy it more, they find it less effortful. So I despise, I'm not an owl, but I despise morning exercise. I feel like the tin man exercising, just I can almost hear every joint in my body creek, whereas in the afternoon I actually enjoy it a heck of a lot more.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:33] Well, I'm the same way, I believe. What about people who try to hack their chronotype by drinking coffee first thing in the morning? Where do you stand on that? Where does the research stand on that?
Daniel Pink: [00:36:42] Well, what the research shows on that is for wakefulness, you're better off not having a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, right when you wake up. Right when we wake up, we start producing cortisol, which is a stress hormone. That's one of the things that helps us wake up. And it turns out that caffeine inhibits the production of cortisol. So adding coffee right away, it doesn't really help you that much. But after about an hour or so of being awake, your cortisol levels start to drop. And that's when hitting it with caffeine is more effective. So I like to try to wait an hour before I have coffee in the morning. And again, without going into all of my personal grooming habits, I mean if you wake up and take a shower, that's going to burn up some time right there, you know? And so you wake up, take a shower, get dressed, maybe do a few small mindless things, there are people who sometimes will meditate or write in a journal. And then you know, after about an hour when your cortisol levels have begun to decline, hit it with some coffee.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:37] All right. Now that makes sense. Rather than waking up and being like, I can't function until I've had 16 espressos.
Daniel Pink: [00:37:43] Right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:43] Yeah.
Daniel Pink: [00:37:43] Right, right, right. I think a lot of that, again, I mean there's so much, again, there's so much individual variation. I think a lot of that is basically, well, you know, learned behavior or a conditioned response.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:56] I agree. Imagine, there's no human that's born needing so much caffeine, it could kill a horse. That's a tolerance that we build over a lot of a bad habit that's gotten worse over time and gone unchecked.
Daniel Pink: [00:38:07] I think for a lot of people, even just the mere ritual of it. I mean, the way to test this would be to replace people's first thing in the morning coffee with decaf coffee and see whether they notice, and see whether it's actually the ritual of making the coffee and doing that, that increases their wakefulness or whether it's actually the caffeine molecules themselves that are doing it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:28] Let's talk a little bit about the trough. Hospital errors go up, traffic accidents go up, judges give harsher sentences when they're tired. We try to fight this. And you mentioned there's a few types of breaks, vigilance breaks and restorative breaks, and there's some tips that go along with it. Let's talk about what people can do to maintain their peak a little bit, or at least didn't get out of the trough. Is that what we're doing with these breaks? What are we doing with these?
Daniel Pink: [00:38:53] Yeah, it's more like that. It's basically restoring our mental energy, restoring our mental acuity, that kind of thing. And so, yeah, I mean, here's the thing. Breaks are more important than we realize. I [indiscernible] [00:39:04] that brakes are really, the science of breaks is where the science of sleep was 15 years ago. 15 years ago, we didn't know that much about the importance of sleep, but the science began coming out. It reached public consciousness. And I do think there are change attitudes in this country, not everywhere about sleep. That is, I think that there's fewer instances of people coming to the office bragging about being sleep deprived and their colleagues thinking of them as heroes because they are so groggy. I think breaks are the same way. We should be taking more breaks, especially in the afternoons and we should be taking certain kinds of breaks. And that's actually really important to the kinds of breaks we take has a huge effect.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:41] What types of breaks out there? I've read about vigilance breaks and restorative breaks. Let's talk about each of those.
Daniel Pink: [00:39:47] So those are two sort of broad categories. So vigilance breaks is basically really, you know, the way I look at this as let's say that you are, let's take something very high stakes. Let’s take surgery, okay? In general, it's hard to say, “Oh, we're not going to do surgery during this, any surgery of any kind during this giant block.” So if you can't do that, there are ways that you can take these vigilance breaks, which basically amount to a stopping, taking a break, using things like checklists, going over what you need to do, and just making sure explicitly that you're not falling down on the job. And again, in medical settings, these are extraordinarily important. And I write about standing in on a surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center where the whole medical team literally took a step back from the operating table, and went through this ritual, including a checklist as a break to make sure that they were treating the patient properly.
[00:40:41] I think for most of us though, these restorative breaks or what we're talking about and restorative breaks are just, okay, my cognitive abilities aren't that great in the afternoon, and if I don't take a break, they're going to be even worse. So let me take a break and try to replenish a little bit of that mental sharpness and mental energy, and what we know about breaks, we know a lot about the design of bricks. We know some really important principles there. We know that something is better than nothing. So even a one minute or two minute break is better than not thinking a break at all. I sometimes if I'm really crashing, which happens sometimes for circumstances that the devil all of us, I will do what's called a 20, 20, 20 break, where every 20 minutes I will look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
[00:41:38] So it's a good way to rest your eyes. So 20, 20, 20. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. And there's a growing category of research on what are called micro breaks and they're pretty important, so something's better than nothing. Another principle would be that moving is better than stationary, so you're better off moving around during your break rather than just sitting there. We know that outside is better than inside. So there's some really interesting research on the replenishing effects of nature. We know that social is better than solo, which I find quite interesting. So breaks with other people are more restorative than breaks on our own, even for introverts, which I found surprising. And then we also know that, and this is important, fully detached beats somebody detached. So, strangely enough, you're better off on some of these breaks if you didn't take a break with a colleague at work, not talking about work, talking about something else. That's a mechanism for full detachment, and also leaving your phone behind. It's not a real break if you're spending it walking around outside with your nose in your Snapchat feed.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:48] Right. Okay. So social is better. Outdoors is better. Get a little sun if you can. And the 20, 20, 20 break, this was to stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. What's the other 20?
Daniel Pink: [00:42:58] Every 20 minutes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:59] Every 20 minutes. Gotcha.
Daniel Pink: [00:43:00] And so again, like that's a really, really short break, but there's some good evidence that it actually, increases your mental acuity. Here's the thing about breaks. It's like, and I'm a convert on this, Jordan, because I was someone who never took breaks. I was someone who always powered through. We have to think about, it really is just have to reconceptualize breaks, which is that breaks are not a deviation from performance, breaks up part of performance. And when you start thinking about it that way, the way that musicians think about it, the way that athletes think about it, I think we can do a little better.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:29] Yeah. This people think, “Oh, I don't rest.” We have this thing in American culture, right? Where I need to be exhausted and useless, otherwise I'm not working hard enough.
Daniel Pink: [0 0:43:36 ] Exactly, exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:37] Yeah. Having this social break, doing it outside, leaving our phone behind, making it tech free. And even these short breaks are effective, which I think is good to know because I think a lot of folks think, well, I only have 20 minutes, so I might as well just sit at my computer and surf the web a little bit, or do some online shopping and then get back to work. And that's kind of the worst way to spend that 20 minute break.
Daniel Pink: [00:44:00] Amen.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:01] So what about lunch breaks? I think a lot of people, they do desk lunches and things like that. Is this actually hurting our productivity? Because given what you just said, it seems like a lunch break at your desk is a terrible idea.
Daniel Pink: [00:44:12] It's generally a bad idea. Yeah. Believe it or not. And there's some interesting emerging research on, believe it or not, when the importance of lunch. And we have to think of lunch pretty much as you said, Jordan, as a subset of breaks. So if you think about, we know about the principles of restorative breaks, right? So think about having lunch at your desk, okay? It's not social. You're not moving. It's not outside. It's not fully detached. I mean, it's sort of like not having a break.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:39] Yeah. So it's basically the worst. The worst.
Daniel Pink: [00:44:41] You're better off like going outside, I don't know if you bring a sandwich to work or whatever, you're better off going outside for 15 minutes, and eating a sandwich on a bench and then coming back in. And again, we tend to think for a lot of the reasons that you articulated about this peculiarly American grinded out notion that if I leave my desk, I'm going to get less done. But actually we need to think about like the outcomes, not the inputs. And if you leave your desk and have a little bit of a break, you're probably going to get more done. You're probably not getting nearly as much done on your computer during that sad desk lunch that you're having.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:17] All right. Now everyone wants to know about naps, right? I don't really, I'm not a napper generally, but I know that they're useful. I know that they're valuable. It's no surprise that naps are beneficial, but I think people don't fully including myself, don't fully understand this. How long are we napping? What's going on here? Where do we put the nap in the day? Do we put it in the trough, where does it go?
Daniel Pink: [00:45:41] Ah, put it in the trough. That's usually a good time to do it. We tend to reach our bottom point for what wakefulness about seven hours after we wake up. So if you wake up at 7, you will start to really bottom out probably around 2 p.m. And then the most important thing though is that the best, most effective naps are extremely short. Something like 10 to 20 minutes long, 10 to 20 minutes long, extremely short. And that's surprised me. But after, I think too short, but that's what the research shows.
[00:46:17] Longer naps can be helpful, but if you nap for longer than 20 minutes, you begin to accumulate what's called sleep inertia, which is that groggy, boggy feeling you get when you wake up from a nap. And so you have to dig out of that in order to get the benefit. And so the ideal nap is really just 10 to 20 minutes, 10 to 20 minutes long. That way you get the restorative effects of a nap. Naps are very good for kind of cleaning up, it's like scrubbing bubbles in your brain. I like to call it a Napster Zamboni is for your brain. So you have all of these like Nixon scuff on your ice during the day and a short nap can come in and smooth it all out.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:59] And everybody who's never seen a Zamboni is super confused, but maybe we'll have to like it then. So the thing that's moves out the ice arena, and in fact, talk about a brand that just took over. Can you name another brand of ice smoothing machine? There isn't one. That's it.
Daniel Pink: [00:47:16] It's the Kleenex aspirin of ice smoothie machine.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:20] That's right. So the Vaseline of ice smoothie machines for sure. All right. And I love the idea by the way of the nappuccino where you slam a coffee, then you take a 20 minute nap, the caffeine kicks in, in about 20 minutes and wakes you up. I love that idea.
Daniel Pink: [00:47:36] Yeah, I actually have been doing that. It's surprisingly effective.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:38] What's up with that Swedish company that allowed time for employees to go home and have sex for break that, that's a little out there.
Daniel Pink: [00:47:45] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's part of, you know, this is what happens—
Jordan Harbinger: [0 0:47:49] It’s the bangaccino.
Daniel Pink: [00:47:50] We're going to, Oh, we're going to see more of that in this era of declining birth rates. I mean, there are a lot of countries in the world that are going to have a lot of old people now that many younger people. So, they're going to have a greater national urgency to reproduce.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:09] Yeah. I suppose the government, soon, we're going to hear something like Swedish government subsidizes longer breaks during the day for a quote unquote “personal time.” I see that, it's coming.
Daniel Pink: [00:48:20] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:21] Let's zoom out a little bit on the concept of time, because we've talked a lot about time of day, but what about time of life? I know you researched this a lot. And one of the scary elements of this was that if you started your career during a recession, you're going to make a lot less money and this can really hurt you. And that's really unfair to people who are just slightly younger than me. Literally a couple of years behind who went to law school or any type of career start. There are really took a huge economic hit. Tell us about that.
Daniel Pink: [00:48:52] Yeah, this is the work of Lisa Kahn, and once again, it's about broad population. So it doesn't obviously affect every single person. But what she showed is that the initial labor market conditions when you graduated from college, there's some interesting research from business schools too. The initial labor market conditions when you graduated from college have a huge effect on your earnings, literally 20 years later. The same thing is true with there's some research from business schools, that people who graduated from business school during a recession are less likely to become CEO of a large company than people who graduate during a boom time. Even if everyone is similar profiles, similar situations, similar levels of ability.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:30] And why does this happen? Just because we start in a recession so we get lower pay or a job that's on a lower rung because we're sort of desperate. How does this happen and why don't we catch up?
Daniel Pink: [00:49:40] Yeah, it's interesting. Well, it takes a long time to catch up. Sometimes we do catch up, but 20 years is a long fricking time to catch up. Basically it's this, it turns out that one of the best ways to increase your salary is to switch jobs. And when people switch jobs, they often have a boost in salaries. The other thing that happens early in career is that there's this sort of matching process that goes on. You're looking for a place where you can match your skills to the skills that are in demand. And that often takes some figuring out. So if you graduate from university in a tight labor market, okay? You'll go to a job and let's say it's not a great job for you, you can more easily get another job, which would likely be a salary increase, which will likely get closer to the better match for your skills, okay? Then you go again and you're like, okay, wait a second. This job is better, but it's not great. And so you switch again, and you've begun the process not only of switching jobs to a boosting your salary, but you're also doing a better job of matching your skills to a particular employer.
[00:50:45] If you graduate in a looser labor market, first of all, you might have a harder time finding an initially, you will have a hard time initially finding a job. But if you're in a job and it's not a good match for you, you're stuck because it's harder to find another job. And when it's harder to find another job, it's harder to begin that salary ascent or the eventual search for the best match for your skills. And so what's frightening about all of this? And Lisa Kahn’s research is that literally, you see it effects 20 years later in people's wages.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:13] That's scary. I think that's really scary.
Daniel Pink: [00:51:16] It is.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:16] So are there ways to recover from this that we should be thinking about? If we started our career in 2007, 2008, or was it 2010, technically that this began? What do we think about if we're in that situation?
Daniel Pink: [00:51:30] It's another one of the situations where on an individual level, I mean, being aware of it is helpful, but it's hard for one individual to solve. I actually think there needs to be a broader response to something like that. So that I've always thought that if you graduate into an economy where the unemployment rate is above a certain level, maybe your student loans should be forgiven or at least postponed. Maybe if the unemployment rate hits a certain level, it triggers the release of funds to help people find jobs or something like that. But I don't think it's an individual solution as much as a collective solution. So individual, I mean, you can work, like let's go back to whatever, 2009. I don't care how talented and hardworking you were. It was harder to find a job in 2009 than it is today.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:15] Definitely. Yeah.
Daniel Pink: [00:52:16] And so if you graduated from college in 2009, and that's when you started your career, again, not every single person but over broad categories, the class of 2009 is on a slower salary and wage trajectory than the class of 2018 will be, even if the people are similarly situated, same level of ability, same level of talent, et cetera, et cetera.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:42] What about the idea that, and I think you call this the uh-oh effect, what about the idea that some people who realize they're behind this lights a fire under their butt and they actually kick things into higher gear if they can?
Daniel Pink: [00:52:54] Yeah, this is one of the interesting effects of mid points on our behavior. So beginnings affect our behavior. We've talked about that with careers, endings affect our behavior, but midpoints affect our behavior. Sometimes if fire is up, sometimes they bring us down. And this is the work of Connie Gersick, whose was UCLA, now is at Yale, and she found that looking at this really in depth almost ethnography of how teams actually work. She found that if you think the trajectory of a team project during the first part of a team project, teams do very, very little. There's a lot of status seeking, there's a lot of, some enthusiasm, but she found that very little actually gets done. The work doesn't really start in earnest until a particular moment. And what you found is over and over again, that moment when things really got done was the midpoint.
[00:53:49] So you give a team, 31 days to do a project, they get started in earnest on day 16, you give a team 11 days to get started in earnest on day six there or something. And what you found because she was her research videotaped and audio tape people who were doing this, is that someone invariably at that mid-point, issued a cry, a time signal saying, “Oh my God, we squandered half of our time. We've got to get going.” And that's what I call the uh-oh effect. Soit's really the midpoints are very, very interesting things. Sometimes they flatten our motivation. Other times they spike our motivation.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:23] There's a lot in the book about midlife crises, midpoints even endings and ends up decades, end of life and things like that. I've wished we had time to get into all of that, but we'll leave some for the folks at home to enjoy when they pick up the book of course as well. It's called When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Thanks so much for doing the show today, Dan. Really appreciate it.
Daniel Pink: [00:54:45] Jordan, it's been a pleasure. Thanks for having me.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:49] Interesting stuff, Jason. I mean obviously we all knew getting up for 6 a.m or whatever, 7:30 a.m, high school was not working with our rhythms as teenagers. But—
Jason DeFillippo: [00:54:59] Yeah, no doubt.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:59] There's a lot more about the timing. There's a lot more to the timing thing that I thought really, you know, like I'd never heard of the trough. It totally makes sense. Five hour energy had it in their commercial, right? It's like, uh, no 2:30 feeling later on, right? Remember the 2:30 feeling it used to be a thing we'd talk about in college anyway or grad school. I can't remember now.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:55:16] Yeah, no, it's funny. A show notes, Bob and I listened to this book when we were driving across country to Los Angeles from Chicago, and a lot of it really made sense and it was funny that Dan never really like got into the napping habit and I've been a napper for like 20 years. I think, or maybe not 20 years, but maybe at least 10. There's an app called Pzizz. P-Z-I-Z-Z. We'll have it linked in the show notes that I use literally every day. I take a 20 minute nap and I feel fantastic because I do it right in the trough and I recommend everybody give it a try.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:47] That's interesting. So you take a 20 minute nap in the middle of the day. I think that's probably really wise. You know, looking at the research that Dan had in the book and that we talked about on the show. There's a lot to be said for even a five, 10, 15, or ideally 20 minute break, whether or not you can nap in the middle of your day. And starting to build this into my own schedule, it's tough because I feel like I'm not being productive if I take a break in the middle of the day. But the irony is that if I do take a break in the middle of the day, once I get back to work, the quality goes way up. It's just kind of a matter of recognizing this and then building it into my schedule because I typically, of course, if I have a lot to do, which I always do, the break is the first thing to go.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:56:27] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:27] Right? That's the thing that gets knocked out. Not the block where I have to make a phone call or emails with the gym, you know the break is what goes.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:56:35]Yeah, get rid of the emails, take a nap, and then you're just going to be so much better in the afternoon because I noticed around 1 o'clock, I am just a zombie and it's like, “Oh, you know what? I'm not going to get anything done besides clicking, red, red, red on an email.” So it's like, ah, go take 20 minutes. It's not that long. It's like taking like, you know, a long dump, and then they can take a nap.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:57] Or just go to the bathroom for a really long time, apparently.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:56:59] Don't nap on the crapper. That's a bad idea.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:01] Your legs will fall asleep. Been there, done that.
[00:57:04] Great big thank you to Dan. Thanks for that visuals. Great big thank you to Dan Pink. The book is called When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, and if you enjoyed this one, don't forget to thank Daniel on Twitter. And tweet at me your number one takeaway here from Dan Pink. I'm @jordanharbinger on both Twitter and Instagram, and don't forget, if you want to learn how to apply everything you heard from Dan, make sure you go grab the worksheets, also in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast.
[00:57:31]This episode was produced and edited by Jason DeFillippo. Show notes are by Robert Fogarty. Booking back office and last minute miracles by Jen Harbinger, and I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful, which should ideally be in every episode. So please share the show with those you love and even those you don't. We've got a lot more like this in the pipeline and we're very excited to bring this out to you. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you listen and we'll see you next time.
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