Daniel Pink on Why Time of Day Matters

This episode is sponsored by Gusto.

Your company might implement Casual Friday, but what about Chrono-type Friday? Best-selling author and television host Daniel Pink thinks it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Chronobiology is the study of how organisms adapt to solar- and lunar-related rhythms. Pink talks with SUCCESS.com’s Shelby Skrhak about his new book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing and why it might actually be good for a basketball team to be losing at halftime.


  • We have hidden patterns in our day that affect our mood and performance throughout the day and help reveal whether we’re “early” people, late people or in between.  “We don’t perform or feel the same way at every given moment of a given day,” Pink says. “Understanding this can help people work smarter.”
  • Pink identifies three chronotypes: larks, or early birds, owls, named for their night owl nature, and third birds, where most people lie in between. 
    • Both larks and third birds typically experience a peak at the beginning of the day, a slow trough in late afternoon and then recovery at the end of their day.
    • Owls, who account for only 20 percent of the population, experience this in reverse, so their peak occurs at night, recovery takes place the next morning and their trough occurs during the day.
  • Some tasks are best suited for different times of day: Email and administrative tasks are best when done in the trough. Focused, heads-down work is best when you’re in the peak. Don’t fritter away your peak time with simple, mundane tasks.
  • Pink says research shows the break that lunch provides makes it the most important meal of the day when it comes to your productivity and performance. Sorry, breakfast.
  • Learn what a napachino is and how to take one

Favorite quote from this episode:

“When we do something in the course of the day matters almost as much as what we actually do.”

—Daniel Pink

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Journalist, podcaster and southpaw Shelby Skrhak is the former director of digital content and social media for SUCCESS.com. Before joining SUCCESS magazine, Shelby launched the weekly suburban newspaper Plano Insider, and covered topics ranging from cops and courts to transportation and fashion. Her handwriting should be a font.

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