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Daniel Pink’s 7 Tips for Maximizing Peak Performance Hours

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 10, 2020 • 3 min read

When trying to be effective, people often focus a lot on what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it, but they rarely think about the “when.” Timing can be an important factor in decision-making and persuasive encounters. Learn how to optimize your peak performance hours with these tips from bestselling author Daniel Pink.

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What Are Peak Performance Hours?

Peak performance hours are the times of the day where people are most effective with their given tasks. You can determine these peak hours by identifying your chronotype, the biological clock regulating the body’s circadian rhythms. These rhythms determine when you wake up and when you sleep. On one end of the spectrum are “larks,” or people with early chronotypes, who rise early and are productive in the mornings. On the opposing end are “owls,” or people with late chronotypes who sleep later and are more productive in the evening. Everyone that falls in between these chronotypes has a combination of traits from each side of the spectrum. Determining your chronotype can help you prioritize the projects or tasks in your workday based on when your performance time will be ideal.

Daniel Pink’s 7 Tips for Maximizing Peak Performance Hours

Your internal rhythms have a more profound effect on your productivity than you might realize. Daniel Pink, a New York Times bestselling author who specializes in behavioral and social sciences, believes that knowing when we work best can improve our effectiveness. Here are some of Daniel’s tips for maximizing peak performance hours:

  1. Determine your chronotype. You can establish whether you are an early bird or night owl by figuring out the midpoint of your sleep (the halfway point between falling asleep and waking up.) The earlier your midpoint, the more likely you are a morning person or a lark. The later your midpoint, the more likely you are an evening person, or an owl. Bear in mind that these levels of productivity don’t necessarily apply to all people. You might be different, Daniel says, depending on your chronotype. Regardless, this daily flow can be a useful lens for tackling projects and even approaching larger, broader life goals.
  2. Find your peak. For larks, your peak is early to midmorning. This is the time when you’re most alert and equipped for analytical work. For larks, the best time to make big decisions is during this period. The peak for owls is late afternoon and early evening.
  3. Know when a slump is coming. Late morning to early afternoon is when morning people hit their “trough” phase. During this phase, performance might start to lag, and energy levels may begin to drop. It’s a time best saved for administrative work. Owls also experience their midday trough in the early afternoon and are better off doing the less creative or analytical work during that time.
  4. Recover. This period occurs in the late afternoon to early evening for morning people. This is the time when your energy levels begin to rebound (though you may be less vigilant), making it ideal for iterative or creative work. Night owls begin to rebound later in the evening. Being aware of this daily flow can be a useful lens for tackling projects and even approaching larger, broader life goals.
  5. Set goals. You can separate most things in life into a beginning, middle, and end. If you’re trying to maximize your productivity, pick a date or day of the week that makes symbolic sense to begin something big. Starting on a Monday (rather than a Thursday) is more likely to help your project succeed.
  6. Get energized. If you feel yourself losing steam, try using project midpoints as a form of motivation. If you can think of yourself as slightly behind when reaching the midpoint of a project, it might encourage you to pick up the pace. Use midpoints to energize yourself and maximize your peak performance hours.
  7. Keep the end in sight. It’s easy to get distracted or consumed by uncertainty, which can keep you from completing a project. However, people tend to push harder once the end is in sight. Focusing on the finish line can help keep your energy levels up and give you that extra push towards completing a project.
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