I finished reading Daniel Pink’s new book last week. It’s called “When,” and in it, he dives into the research regarding not what or how we do things, but (you guessed it) when we do them, and why it matters.
One of the most resonant things I took away from the book was that trying to do a task at a time that doesn’t fit your chronotype, or the when of your body, is like putting a square peg in a round hole. You’ll be frustrated and inefficient. Last night, after a long travel day, I thought “I need to practice my talk for tomorrow. I’m always talking and blogging about how important it is to practice, and now I need to do just that.”
Well, I stood up to practice in my hotel room, and it was like I had never done this before. Stories I’ve told dozens of times wouldn’t come, I couldn’t get any flow going, and I actually ended up making myself really nervous. Pink’s book came into my mind. I thought, “I’m not a night person. I’m trying to make something happen and really, I’ll be so much better at this if I wait until the morning.”
Sure enough, at 5:45am, the talk was there. My brain had recovered overnight, and it was in its prime creative state, pulling the talk together and finding new connections.
The next time you’re feeling stymied and frustrated, look at the clock. When is your best time to create, to analyze, to think? Is it early or late? Are you trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?