Book Review: Daniel H. Pink’s When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing is an accessible volume about time & using it to our advantage

There are some people who believe that timing is everything. American author and speaker, Daniel H. Pink is someone who appreciates the importance of timing, as he describes in his new book – When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. Pink believes that timing is not an art but a science, and has created a highly accessible volume that should get readers thinking twice about when they choose to do different things like: book in for surgery, quit their jobs or even get married. It’s an approach that makes logical sense even though some readers may already be familiar with the material from their own research or the mere fact that some of it is just plain, good old-fashioned common sense.

This book consists of seven chapters, divided into three separate parts. The first section focuses on the hidden pattern of the day and presents research that backs up the fact that many humans and animals exhibit the same kind of pattern, a peak and trough followed by a rebound during the period they are awake. Pink looks at the implications of this on the working day and the scheduling of classes for school children, as well as the importance of breaks in enabling people to be refreshed and perform more optimally.

Part two examines beginnings, endings and mid-points. Pink describes how mid-points can result in a slump or an extra boost to get us motivated and working on-task. There are also important dates and points in time where we are more likely to undertake and succeed with different projects or goals. Did you know for instance that there are a significant number of first-time marathon runners with ages ending in a “9?” We are also more likely to start diets at the beginning of a year (everyone has heard of New Year’s resolutions) or the start of a month or a year. Pink identifies these as potential opportunities we can harness in order to get working and at the end of each chapter he offers practical advice in the form of “life hacks,” which feel modern, relevant and timely.

The final section looks at syncing with others as a means to optimise well-being, and examining the importance of language. Pink cites lots of different sources  throughout this title, so you do get the sense that this was all rather well-researched. He provides extensive notes and lists further reading materials but there are some things that will really be up to the reader to determine the veracity of the material. The truth is that Pink is a former scriptwriter and not a doctor or a psychologist so while he has clearly summarised and presented material from the fields of psychology, biology, economics and the social sciences, it is up to you whether you believe he is a relevant expert or authority figure on the material. One thing is for certain, additional research into these different areas would be great to ensure that the results are replicated and applicable in the real-world i.e. outside of those examples cited.

When is ultimately a fun and intriguing volume that should make you stop and consider certain things. Pink’s engaging prose and useful advice make for some entertaining and engaging reading. This is one highly readable volume about a fascinating topic that affects us all in a multitude of different ways *ahem* time after time.

Daniel H. Pink’s When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing is available now through Text Publishing.


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