When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

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What is the book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing about?

The author of the book, Daniel H. Pink, believes that the word “when” is one of the essential words in a person’s life. Whether we are going to change jobs, find a partner in life or go on a trip, we must always choose the right moment when. Instead, most people act at random, guided by their intuition or inspiration, and do not always get to the point. Meanwhile, choosing the moment is so important that it can become a matter of life and death.

Pink provides an example in the form of the story about William Thomas Turner, the Captain of RMS “Lusitania”. In 1915, the ship was swimming across the Atlantic Ocean, from New York to Liverpool. During World War I, German Empire announced the waters off the British Isles a military engagement zone, where “Lusitania” supposed to go through. American newspapers were posting an ad by the German representatives, warning passengers about the dangers of sea voyages on this territory. Then, the rules of war provided the warning of trade and passenger ships – if the boat wouldn’t defend or be attempting to attack, it was given time to evacuate passengers and its crew. Subsequently, both England and Germany began to strike any vessel without warning.

But “Lusitania” had an excellent reputation. The ship was equipped with the latest technologies; unlike the “Titanic”, it had many lifeboats, a wireless telegraph, and an experienced captain. Most of the passengers ignored the possible danger, and only a few people returned their tickets.

Five days straight, the ship was sailing without any accidents, until it reached the coast of Ireland. Then, Turner received a message that the German submarines were noticed in this area. He would often look towards the horizon. There was a thick fog, which made overseeing difficult, and the speed of the vessel was reduced so as not to run aground. Soon the fog cleared, but Turner still wasn’t seeing anything suspicious.

Walther Schwieger, the Commander of the German submarine, noticed “Lusitania”. His reasons were simple: civilians are warned, and if they’d nevertheless decide to swim in the waters declared a military engagement zone, they’d have nobody to blame but themselves. He didn’t decide to attack the ship immediately though. Turner still had an hour left to take the necessary action. The best way out was to leave the dangerous territory as quickly as possible. The ocean liner was faster than the earliest submarines and could easily outrun them.

However, Turner increased the speed only slightly, instead of pushing it to the max. Also, he wouldn’t go in a zigzagging pattern but still went straight on, even though that’s how many ships managed to avoid getting torpedoed. Schwieger gave the order to attack, and the torpedo rammed the right side of the “Lusitania”. Time has passed. The equipment was damaged, the boiler rooms were flooded.  The ship sank after 18 minutes, 1,197 people dead. Due to the loss of control, only 6 out of 48 boats got into the water safely.

There are many mysteries left in the tragedy “Lusitania”, many theories explain strange actions of the captain, but perhaps he merely took a few wrong decisions, wasting time or choosing the wrong moment? At least, Pink suggests so. This tragedy, among other things, shows us how little we know about time and how we have to be able to use it properly.

Meanwhile, Pink believes that time is a science in itself. Before coming to this conclusion, he and two like-minded people for two years were analyzing the research in various scientific fields, to study the hidden properties of time. They were investigating why the beginning is so crucial for any business; how to start all over again, if the start wasn’t auspicious; how to correctly synchronize time, interacting with other people; and, among other things, how our private and public lives can be rebuilt using the science of time.

Summary and 11 Ideas of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Idea №1. The best time to complete a task depends on the nature of the task.

Idea №2. Each person has a chronotype, which depends on many factors.

Idea №3. Determine your perfect rhythm using the three-step method, work according to it.

Idea №4. To reduce the negative impact of the recession periods, arrange the shortest rest breaks possible during the uplift.

Idea №5. Time guidelines help us create turning points.

Idea №6. Any endeavor depends on its beginning.

Idea №7. Avoid the wrong and untimely start.

Idea №8. With the help of specific techniques, you can mitigate the unsuccessful start.

Idea №9. The recession period may be turned into a jumping-off point for the future.

Idea №10. The end of the endeavor is no less important than its beginning.

Idea №11. The synchronization and coordination with other people is a great way to increase your well-being at the physical and mental level.

Review When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

This book is fascinating and useful; it helps to determine the significant moments in life and use them correctly.

Pink doesn’t appreciate the idea that our whole life lies in the present, “here and now”, and there are no such things as past or future. Time, in his opinion, is a single entity; a synthesis of the present, the past and the future. Through understanding, the value of time and its properties helps us understand who we are and why we live.

Pros and cons:

  • Original ideas; the simple exposition; exciting examples and useful practical pieces of advice.
  • The recurring repetition of ideas.

Author Daniel H. Pink

Author of the book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect TimingDaniel H. Pink (born 1964) is the author of books on work, management, and behavioral science. He grew up in the small suburban city of Bexley, Ohio, outside of Columbus, and graduated from Bexley High School in 1982. Pink received his B.A. from Northwestern University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He was also named scientist Truman. After that, he received his law degree from the Yale Law School in 1991, where he was the chief editor of the Law on Law and Policy at Yale University.

Deciding not to practice the law, Pink worked in several positions in politics and economic policy. He served as assistant secretary of the Labor Party, Robert Reich, and from 1995 to 1997 he was the chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore. In 1997, he left his work on his own, the experience he described in the article “Fast Company of 1998”, “Free Agent”, which became the basis of his first book.

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