How to Use Time to Be Your Most Creative with Dan Pink

Do you ever chastise yourself for not being more productive in the late afternoon? Science is telling us your brain may simply not be wired to be at its peak during that time of the day.

Best-selling author and notable speaker, Daniel Pink, explains why on this edition of The Portfolio Life.

How to Use Time to Be Your Most Creative with Dan Pink

We jump right into the topic of creativity and productivity to open the show. I was excited about Dan’s latest book, When, because everyone makes it seem like success and timing go hand in hand. I asked Dan how much of his success he attributes to timing? How much was timing a factor for him personally, and was he aware of it while researching and writing this book?

The timing Dan covers in the book is more narrow than the kind of timing people talk about when they say they were “in the right place at the right time.” It’s about when we chose to do things during the day.

There’s an incredible body of research that gives us clues about when in the day we should do certain types of work, when should we take a break, how the beginning, middle and ending of the day affect us, and how does how we think about time shape what we do and how we feel about what we do.

Daniel says that luck (or fate) is enormously important in everyone’s life. He thinks we have a dual cognitive problem in that we don’t understand how much randomness plays a role in our lives, and when we begin to grasp it, we don’t like it very much!

One reason we don’t like randomness is that we begin to see we don’t have an absolute free will. Another is that people who are successful never attribute it to luck, and the people who are not successful always attribute it to luck.

Dan believes we have some ability to shape who we are and what we do. However that ability is not absolute, and luck (or circumstance or fortune or whatever you want to call it) plays a big, big, big role in who we are and what we do or don’t do.

We jump into why our mental processes aren’t the same throughout the day and if there are ideal times to make big changes like writing a book, quitting your job, etc. Join Dan and I for these interesting topics and more on this episode of The Portfolio Life.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).

Show highlights

In this episode, Dan and I talk about:

  • What do peak, trough and recovery refer to and how do you utilize each?
  • When is the best time to do “heads down” type of work?
  • What are chrono types?
  • Why all times of the day are not created equal.
  • What are temporal landmarks?

We have volition, but we don’t act with volition.

Dan Pink

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Making the most of your day

  • How can you schedule your workday to be your most effective?
  • Why we must be intentional about when we do different types of work.
  • What does it mean to be at your peak cognitively?
  • Why it’s true that we are what we do regularly.
  • How do you protect your peak time of the day?

The greatest enemy of writing is distraction.

Dan Pink

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On writing

  • Is there a strong argument for writing every day?
  • What’s the difference between being an author versus being someone who has written a book?
  • How does he decide what to write a book on?
  • What does his research process look like?
  • Why does he always write a book proposal?


What time of day are you most creative? Let us know in the comments.