Time, timing and timeouts
I am a fan of 2 different ‘Pinks’: P!nk the entertainer and Daniel Pink, New York Times Bestselling Author. What I love about these 2 individuals and the work they do is that they articulate the importance of time, timing and timeouts in driving optimum performance. And isn’t that what we’re all about - doing and being the best we can?
Pink’s latest book, ‘When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing’ explores, among other things, the relationships between sustained high performance and the insertion of ‘breaks’ or ‘rest periods’ into the day. He concludes that sustained high performance requires working with your energy patterns and scheduling and executing rest periods during your day. His analysis and deep research coupled with the practical application of his ideas is what makes his work powerful. For anyone concerned about time and energy management and is keen for a different perspective, I highly recommend it. Here are some key takeaways:
We operate in a natural daily wave of peak and trough, followed by rebound
Mornings are the best time to perform analytical activities and tasks: your brain is most effective in keeping distractions out. Afternoons are better for problems requiring insight and creative thinking.
’Rest’ needs to be for the purpose of recovery. Not distraction, social media or ‘non-work’ work. Pink provides guidelines for effective ‘restorative’ breaks.
We should be performing tasks in the manner that allows us to be at our peak levels of performance. He uses the analogy of sports people who don’t train all day every day, but incorporate specific recovery periods as part of their preparation for a big event.
When we think about time, we think about deadlines, schedules, timetables: ‘When is it due’. Take it a level deeper and think about timing: here is where we can use Pink's research to deliver better results. If we know that timing influences quality and performance, then why wouldn’t we use this as a guide for our day?
How: Be proactive and use existing tools
If you know that you have a deliverable due by a specific deadline, address time, timing and timeouts:
If you know the deadline, put it in your calendar and anyone else who is relevant. If you don’t know, go and find out. Fast.
If you know, based on what you know of yourself and the evidence in Pink’s work, that you do your best focused work in the morning, then block that out in your calendar. Protect that time. If you do this well in advance, then when someone is looking to book a meeting with you, then you will appear ‘busy’ in Outlook and they’ll find an alternate time that works best for you.
If you know that you need to do some brainstorming with the team, know that this is best done in the afternooon, so get ahead of other peoples’ calendars and book that in well in advance.
If you know that you suffer the 3pm dip like a lot of us, schedule meetings with yourself: ‘timeouts’. Not time to use scrolling facebook, catching up on email while you eat your lunch. But going outside, reading a book or call a friend or family member. Allow your brain to disconnect from work so that it has its chance to recuperate and perform at its best once you’ve turned it back on.
But...knowing isn’t the same as doing.
What’s holding you back?
The illusion that if you do this you will let people down by missing deadlines (or something equally unhelpful).
Consider what must have been doing through P!nk’s mind when she was making the decision to cancel (reschedule) her sold out concerts. By rescheduling concerts, she knew that she’d be letting her fans down and costing them dollars and possibly the chance to ever see her live. However, she also knew the importance of timing and timeouts. She still had dozens of sellout concerts to play and if ‘the show were to go on’, she needed to talk a break. Her body was not at its best and she called it. I know she received a lot of grief for that decision, but I think it’s awesome.
Having had the privilege of seeing her up close in concert this time around, for her, when on stage, timing is everything. Literally. With the acrobatics and trapeze work she does way above the stage, the implications of getting timing wrong are physically catastrophic. But the impact of getting it right is incredible.
Step up: make time, timing and timeouts your friend
Be the breath of fresh air that people are looking for - to take the intangible ‘soft stuff’ and incorporate it into your processes so that you deliver better and stronger....and for longer. There’s nothing soft about that.
About Alena: Alena works with leaders and their teams to connect technical and leadership skills so they can deliver to deadline without killing their people. She is a mentor, trainer, facilitator and coach. Contact her today on firstname.lastname@example.org