Just Don’t Work From 12 PM to 3 PM

These are your least productive hours, according to Daniel H. Pink’s book, When

Danny Forest

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Illustration by the author. Background: source. Owl: source.

When is a fascinating book. Most of us ask all the important why, what, and how questions, but we rarely think about the when question. That’s a mistake, friend.

Since the arrival of my son into this world five months ago, I have not been able to work from 12 PM to 3 PM. I’d try to get things done but I’d be too tired and felt incredibly unproductive.

Yet, in reality, I’ve known for a long time that I was unproductive in the early afternoon. Back when I was working at a 9–5 job, I was fighting my drowsiness with coffee, walks, and good-old slaps-in-the-face.

It somewhat worked, but I knew that deep down, there needed a better way. And since no one spoke about this dreadful period at the office, I thought I was alone in that. It turns out, 79% of the people are like me.

The study of chronotypes is a deeply interesting one. Scientists break it down into three distinct types, even if people are only familiar with two: owls, and others.

Owls, the most well-known chronotype, accounts for 21% of the population. Larks, or Early Birds, account for 14% of the population. In the middle sits the Third Birds, at 65%.

Pink summarizes the best time to do different types of tasks this way:

Lark:

  • Analytical tasks: Early morning
  • Insight tasks: Late afternoon/early evening
  • Making an impression: Morning
  • Making a decision: Early morning

Third Bird:

  • Analytical tasks: Early to midmorning
  • Insight tasks: Late afternoon/early evening
  • Making an impression: Morning
  • Making a decision: Early to midmorning

Owl:

  • Analytical tasks: Late afternoon and evening
  • Insight tasks: Morning
  • Making an impression: Morning
  • Making a decision: Late afternoon and evening

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Danny Forest

Polymath. Life Optimizer. Learner. Entrepreneur. Engineer. Writer.