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WHEN Do You Perform Your Best?

Photo by Vitaly Turchaninov

“The Power of Breaks, the Promise of Lunch, and the Case for a Modern Siesta”

I read a lot of books, but I love listening to books even more, especially when they are read by their author. Whatever way you like to digest your books, I highly recommend picking up a copy of WHEN by Daniel H. Pink. Published in 2018, the author dives into the science of perfect timing, or that idea that WHEN you do something is equally important to WHAT you do.

Some key takeaways for me include: how throughout the day our cognitive abilities ebb and flow, how creativity and innovation flourish when our analytical brain is not at its sharpest, how most people are either larks (morning people), owls (night people), or “third birds,” the best times and methods of sleeping and napping, and how auspicious dates can help us with better follow-through with our goals.

I made the mistake of reading some of the reviews on Goodreads, most of them positive, but some I felt completely missed the boat, claiming the information was useless. Are you kidding me?! Since ready this book I have implemented the following into my routine:

  • I wait at least 45 minutes before having my coffee in the morning, allowing my body to use its natural energy storage before giving it the spark plugs.

  • I do most of my planning and writing in the morning when my brain is sharp.

  • I changed my salon schedule to begin at 11am, so that I have my morning for cognitive work and my afternoons for the creative and physical work with my hair clients.

  • For the first time in 26 years, I take a lunch break around 2pm, and I walk around the neighborhood, because I work in one of the most awesome neighborhoods anywhere! This helps me refill my cup so that I can do better, happier work for the rest of my clients,

  • I stick to my guns, and instead of trying to please everyone and say yes, I maintain my boundaries. And guess what? People respect them and figure things out.

  • I choose auspicious dates when I’m starting a new project—first of the week, first of the month, a birthday, a new year, etc. That way, I’m more likely to start things off in the best way with a commitment to following through. How things begin often can be the determining factor in whether they get accomplished.

I was surprised to find out that some of the insights in the book had already come to me over the years. For example, I love a power nap. I always set my alarm for 26 minutes before laying down. It gives you a few minutes to fall asleep, and you get the right amount of rest without falling into a deep state. Pink recommends drinking caffeine before your nap. It won't keep you from falling asleep in that amount of time, and it will give you more energy when you wake. He calls it a napaccino.

Another example is from the period I worked as a cosmetology school director. My mind was always sharp and energized in the morning, but when it came to the afternoons, especially around the 2:00 hour, I was so groggy and unable to concentrate during meetings and conference calls. I knew that I needed to be out on the cutting floor with the students moving around and interacting with people.

Whether you’re a lark, and owl, or a third bird (I’m a lark) depends on what time of day you have more energy and your cognitive abilities are at their peak. There are plenty of online resources to determine where you fit. Check out for more information. In addition, if want some good information nuggets without the commitment of an entire book, you’ll find them there.

To some, this information may seem trivial, but for me it's been transformational . So goes my day, so goes my life.

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