When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink (New York: Random House/ Riverhead, 2018)
Duke Ellington, the American composer, bandleader, and pianist whose astounding productivity was exceeded only by his prodigious talent, once said, “I don’t need time. What I need is a deadline.” Daniel H. Pink gives us plenty of reasons to believe in that wisdom. The author of the excellent, best-selling A Whole New Mind posits in his latest book that we begin most things with a bang and end them with an explosion, but somewhere in that interminable middle is a monotonous muddle. That midpoint of our day, week, month, year, education, project, job, romantic relationship, or lifetime constitutes an inevitable ennui, a time when we should take care not to assume we are operating at our greatest gusto, fullest faculties, or peak performance.
Pink notes early in When that this is a book about timing. He infers from numerous studies that our optimal time of enjoyment, alertness, and accomplishment is most likely to be anytime but at halftime, when a break would serve us better than anything else. He then suggests practices for everyday life to heighten awareness, mitigate malaise, and reverse bad habits. If you like the structure of Pink’s books—as I do—you will find When a quick read full of interesting curiosities and useful tips that may improve your approach to work and maximize your output.