The Hidden Pattern of Everyday Life

Study shows the language of Twitter users felt active, enaged and hopeful in the morning, plummented in the afternoon and rebounded in the early evening. Same way judges are more likely to issue a favorable ruling in the morning than in afternoon. So schedule important meetings early in the day.

Our moods and performance oscillate during the day. For most, mood follows a common pattern:

Peak – Trough – Rebound

Most of us excel Analytic work that requires sharpness, vigilance and focus in the peak (morning).

Most of us do better on Insight work that requires inhibition and resolve in the rebound (evening).

Larks, Owls and Third Birds

Your better morning routine

  1. Drink a glass of water as you wake up
  2. Avoid coffee immediately after you wake up
  3. Soak up the morning sun
  4. Schedule talk-therapy appointments for the morning

Your afternoon coffeespoons

Science offers 5 guiding principles for restorative breaks:

  1. Something beats nothing – work for 52 minutes then break for 17 minutes
  2. Moving beats stationary – 5 minute walks to boost energy and focus
  3. Social beats solo – talk with coworkers about something other than work
  4. Outside beats inside – walk outdoors
  5. Fully detached beats semi-detached – take tech-free breaks

Lunch is the most important meal of the day.

Two key ingredients of powerful lunch – autonomy and detachment.

Your ideal nap

Coffee-then-nap combination known as the nappuchino. The ideal nap is 10-20 minutes, no longer. Ideal time to nap is between 2pm and 3pm. If you nap longer, you will wake groggy (sleep inertia) and will take time to recover.

Your flash break

Set a timer, every 20 minutes look at something 20 ft away for 20 seconds, known as 20-20-20 rule.

Starting right

4 situations you should go first

  1. If you’re on a ballot (prom queen, the Oscars…) being listed first give you an edge
  2. If you’re not the default choice – going first can get a fresh look from decision-makers
  3. There’re relatively few competitors (<5), take advantage of ‘primacy effect’ the tendency for people to remember first thing in a series better than that come later.
  4. You’re interview for a job and you’re up against several strong candidates, you might gain an edge from being first.

4 situations you should NOT go first

  1. You’re the default choice.
  2. There’re many competitors (not necessarily strong ones, just a large number), going later can confer a small advantage and going last can confer a huge one.
  3. You’re operating in an uncertain environment.
  4. Competition is meager, going last can highlight your differences.

Make a fast start in a new job:

  1. Begin before you begin (visualize)
  2. Let your results do the talking
  3. Stockpile your motivation
  4. Sustain your morale with small wins.

Starting againTuring troughs around

Happiness climbs high early in adulthood and begins to slide downard in late 30s and early 40s, dipping to a low in 50s. But we recover quickly from this slump later in life.

Home teams with a 1-point deficit at halftime won more than 58% of the time. Merely telling people they’re slightly behind an opponent can lead them to exert more effort.

If you’re getting stuck in midway (e.g. a project) picture someone who’ll benefit from your efforts.

Uh-oh effect – a new sense of urgency halfway through. Uh-oh we’re running out of time – that revives our motivation and reshapes our strategy

Writer Ernest Hemingway often ended a writing session in the mid of a sentence. That sense of in-completion helped him remember unfinished tasks better than finished ones.

Start Strong – Finish Stronger

Someone who’s 49 is about 3 times more likely to run a marathon than who’s 48.

At the beginning, we’re more motivated by how far we’ve progressed. At the end, we’re more so by trying to close the gap that remains.

When we remember an event, we assign greatest weigh to its most intense moment (peak) and how it culminates (end). We downplay how long an event lasts and magnify what happens at the end (duration neglect).

‘End of life’ bias suggests we believe people’s true selves are revealed at the end – even if their death is unexpected and the bulk of their lives displayed a far different self.

Poignancy – adding a small component of sadness to an otherwise happy moment elevates that moment rather than diminishes it (endings like UP, Big Hero, Toy Story 3).

Big ends don’t leave us happy, rather they produce something richer – a rush of unexpected insight, a fleeting moment of transcendence.

Finish right – When to quit your job

If you answer 2 or more no and considering quitting your job:

  1. Do you want to be in this job on your next anniversary?
  2. Is your current job both demanding and in your control?
  3. Does your boss allow you to do your best work?
  4. Are you outside the 3-5 year salary bump window?
  5. Does your daily work align with the long-term goals?

Before leaving work – spend 5 minutes what you accomplished, spend 5 minutes to plan the following day and spend 1 minute to write a thank-you note.

Synchronizing Fast and Slow – Secrets of Group Timing

Groups must syn on 3 levels – to the boss, to the tribe and to the heart.

Group timing requires a boss – someone or something to set the pace and focus the collective mind. After individuals sync to the boss, they must sync to the tribe. That requires a sense of belonging.

Coordinating with others also makes us do good – and doing good enhances synchronization (e.g. singing in a group has many physical and mental benefits).

Pink used to believe timing was everything. Now he believes everything is timing.


Kyaw Wai Yan Tun

Hi, I'm Wai Yan. I love designing visuals and writing insightful articles online. I see it as my way of making the world a more beautiful and insightful place.