Review: Book Club Brunch - When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Written by Bronwyn Huband.

Author: Daniel H. Pink

Reviewer: Libby Gordon

The secrets to perfect timing; a big claim! And as a time-poor London dweller this book appealed to me as I, along with the rest of book club, was keen to understand Daniel When Image 2H Pinks theory on how timing might enable us to make the most of the hours in our day through his book “When”. As with all our books some people loved it more than others but the book itself was easy to read and gave the right mix of stories to illustrate points and practical takeaways. What did we each find interesting? Did we learn? And most importantly what changes had we, or did we want to make, as a result of reading this. 


One idea that stood out to all of us unanimously, as we all sat around the table with coffee (or tea) in hand, was the idea of Nappachino. (Well we all thought that naps, whenever, were a good idea!) Nappachino: Drink coffee (or other caffeinated drink), nap for no more than thirty minutes, wake up, caffeine kicks in as your brain is refreshed from your nap, you are ready to take on the world. We were not sure how, however, we could integrate this into day to day working life but working from home days did allow for this!


As most of us have to run or be in meetings at some point, how we make these better was something that I was keenly interested in, as was the group. How and when meetings take place can be key to there effectiveness. For most people morning meetings are better but do remember if you have night owls in your teams this may not work so well for them. But for everyone no matter their bed or awake time, breaking up longer meetings to enable them to be more productive is important.

Moving things forward
Whether this be a meeting or a project, these are all likely to find a slump at a mid-point - do not panic, slumps will pass, but be aware this may happen! Remember that ideas will come at the end and it is often only when you get there you realise the slump / low point in time is part of the process. Put programmes into the red to trigger response and use external accountability aids to drive work forward. Aligning work to key points of time such as a day / a week / 30 days / a birthday with a zero at the end, this again will also help people focus. Set up checklists to help manage time when there is a chance of missing things, save the time upfront. How could we, as a lot of tech start ups do, start thinking about where we can automate processes so we can work on other things, therefore freeing up time for value add.

Breaks are very important!
Take brisk walks to refresh the mind / step outside for fresh air. Take lunch breaks, especially if you are in a leadership role, others need to see you doing this. Regroup before big things, so that you are fresh before you go in. Give kids recess and time for them to flex. We talked a lot about the elements in the book that spoke about schools. Noting that in many countries / inner city schools there is less time for unstructured play. Many around the table reflected how as kids in New Zealand this was a big part of their upbringing. We thought this helped with problem solving, that team sport helped with grounding.

Culture to enable
Woven throughout this book and our conversation was a lot about the importance of culture. Whether it was setting up a culture that enabled people to both work and spend quality time with their children, to as a leader spending time doing floor walks and talking informally with people. We talked about how it is key to set this sort of thing up from the beginning and getting that mix of people and environment right; Boss, tribe, heart. Lead well, build your tribe and commitment and you have your team – invest that time! Think about time spent doing cross team learning, seeing how others handle work and share learnings and skills between teams.

When you reflect on another one of our books, 168 Hours, by Laura Vanderkam, which talked about lack of time not being the issue, rather challenging the choices we make with the time we do have, we soon find ourselves with a new set of complimentary tools for our tool kit. As the author said I used to believe that timing was everything. Now I believe everything is timing’.

What's the Goss?