If you want a raise, ask the boss in the morning—but never at 2:55 in the afternoon. The reason? Ask pop-science writer Pink (To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, 2012, etc.), who examines what happens when in daily life.
It’s a truism that timing is of the utmost importance. Mining veins familiar to readers of Malcolm Gladwell and Dan Ariely, Pink delves into circadian rhythms, bimodal patterns, data clusters, and all the other stuff of popular business writing to explore, for instance, what a person’s optimal time of day is for such things as collegiality, productivity, happiness, and the like. The answer is that mornings are when good things happen, while afternoons are times of flagging energy, surliness, and negativity. Perhaps surprisingly, afternoon is also the time when ethical lapses are likeliest to occur, with some variation depending on one’s “chronotype.” Moving on, the author analyzes problems, addresses some of the latest research surrounding them, and then offers a few simple strategies for self-improvement, some a touch soft (join a yoga class), some more pointed—for instance, if you want to be perceived as an effective manager, answer colleagues’ email promptly, since “e-mail response time is the single best predictor of whether employees are satisfied with their boss.” Timing, similarly, can be a simple matter or a highly elaborate one, as with the food delivery workers who fan out across Mumbai each day, guided by the careful communication of information that “allows the walas to anticipate one another’s actions and move in harmony.” Pink also notes points at which our culture is inefficient in its accommodation of people who move to different rhythms: night owls tend to greater intelligence and creativity than early risers, but they’re forced to be “like left-handers in a right-handed world.”
Solid science backed by sensible action points—good airplane reading for business travelers.