Review – When

February 1, 2018


There’s no shortage of how-to books. There are books on how to get rich, how to be successful, how to become famous, how to be happy, how to win friends and influence people. Pink wrote a when-to book instead.

When is a thoroughly researched book on chronobiology, the special effects of beginnings, midpoints and endings, and the stages of timing and synchronisation.

Some people are larks, rise early and are obnoxiously high-spirited throughout the morning, but stumble through the afternoon. Some people are owls who go to bed in the early morning hours to sleep until noon. Should the workplace demand early attendance (it does), you recognize owls by their huge cups of coffee and their inability to talk without grumbling. Pink defines a third category for people who wake up moderately early, into which the majority of people falls.

Your chronotype (which kind of bird you are) has huge effects on your mood and alertness throughout the day. Depending on what bird you are, and on the nature of the task, you will be more efficient at some things in the morning, while excel at other stuff in the afternoon. Most people, however, experience a significant trough in the early afternoon, which is the perfect time for a nap – and a very dangerous time to be a hospital patient.

Beginnings are special. But so are endings – and midpoints. In the second part of When, Pink introduces time points of significance. People can have strong emotions in different phases of a project, event or even their life. We may experience anxiety to begin something, have a burst of motivation at midpoint and end feeling nostalgic. Or we start all pumped, have a major crisis in the middle to finish with an enthusiastic sprint.  When navigates through research and myths to get down to why and how certain whens are special.

Part three is all about timing. According to Pink, you have three levels of synchronization: the boss, the tribe, and the heart. You synch to external factors like alarm clocks, schedules and regulations – your bosses. You synch with your group or tribe to orchestrate your efforts for better effects. And you synch to the heart by having a sense of community, shared values and collective duties with others.  And the better your synchronization, the happier a life you lead.

Layered between the main chapters of When is the Time Hacker’s Handbook, where Pink takes all the findings presented in When and extracts rules and instructions to apply the knowledge to your life. The how-to part of this when-to, if you will.

This review is short and succinct, because When is a short and succinct book. Unless you have full control over your time, you probably won’t be able to apply all of the pieces of advice. But if you have the how-to covered, you can learn a lot from this book. And if you don’t yet know how-to, why not start with when-to instead?


Key points:

  • Know your chronotype (bird type).
  • Pay attention to beginnings, midpoints and endings.
  • Synchronize.


Author affiliations:

Daniel H. Pink is an author and former political advisor. He has a website.


Review copy:

copy bought
Riverhead Books (9. Januar 2018)
ISBN-10: 0525535047
ISBN-13: 978-1782119890

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When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing Book Cover When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing
Daniel H. Pink
Riverhead Books

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