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It turns out there are a lot of books out there about what to do and how to keep track of all those to-dos. But there are very few methodologies about when to do things. That is why I want to talk about Dan Pink’s new book WHEN. This book is fantastic. What Dan has done is look through hundreds of studies to figure out when, in our natural rhythms – annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, or daily – we should do things. I want to talk today about when we should do things as it applies to business development.
I love this book. I read the whole thing. I took tons of notes and I want to apply them to our world, business development. Here are the three big insights that I got.
The first is, we need to figure out what our daily rhythm is. I tend to assume that everybody is like me and that most people like to do the harder, deeper, or more difficult things in the morning. It turns out 65% of people are like me in that respect, but 35% aren’t. There is a test you can take in the book that tells you when you have your highest level of energies. Then, to the extent you can, steer your work to those time periods in the day so you will do better work.
For me, I need help in the mornings to focus on the harder to do things. I need to remind myself of that because that’s when I’m most alert, when I can make the best decisions, when I can be the most creative. But you might not have that same rhythm. You can take the test in the book and figure out your ideal daily rhythm.
The second insight that I found from this book is that I need to take more breaks. I am horrible at taking breaks. Dan has synthesized all the research and some of the things that he found was that how you take breaks is really important. For example, many short breaks are better than none at all. Even if it is only 30 seconds. In addition, doing things socially during your breaks are much more powerful than doing things on your own. From a quick call to a friend, a chat at the water cooler, or whatever. Some kind of personal interaction can elevate your energy and let you accomplish more.
Something connected with nature can also be very powerful. A quick walk outdoors, even for 10 minutes, is much more powerful than sitting in your chair looking at something. Even if you can just look outside, that has been shown scientifically to be more restful, and that you will have more energy afterwards than if you look at a screen. Therefore, do whatever you can to try to take those breaks and keep them connected to nature.
The last insight I got was probably the best one. In your lower points of energy in the day, try to do something to motivate yourself. This is where I thought of a neat technique that I first learned from James Clear, another favorite author of mine, that he calls the paperclip technique.
If you have a certain goal for the day, he advises to take a small little paper clip holder and fill it with the number of paperclips equal to your goals. Say you want to send out four outreach emails. You put four paperclips in there. Then you have a second holder that you put the paperclips in when you have completed that goal. For him, that way of motivating himself works, no matter what it is. Maybe it is reps as he is doing push-ups. Or maybe it is things he would do in business development like outreach emails or things like that.
Anything you can do to visibly see your progress is very motivational. That fits with what Dan’s book says. In certain parts of the day, we are just on a roll because we are alert, we are on fire. Other parts of the day not so much and that is where you have to create these other mechanisms to keep yourself motivated.
Here is the thing. What we do is very important. How we keep track of it in a to-do list or a CRM is very important. But what I learned from this book is that when and how we do things is incredibly important, to the extent that we can preplan our days and to the extent in those days we have flexibility, we can slot the things that we need to do in the times when we are most set up for success. It’s really going to make a big difference. I have been implementing it. It is working for me and I hope you can find it does the same for you.
As with all our videos, we hope this one helps you help your clients succeed.