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  • Writer's pictureLiz W.

Review of "When" By Daniel H. Pink

Intro to the Review

We have all had that experience of enthusiastically starting a new book only to realize partway through that it's not what we were expecting. The purpose of the following review is not to judge whether the book is "good" or "bad." The goal is to help you decide whether or not it is a good book for you.

Start by asking yourself:

  • Does it seem like the content covered in this book aligns with what I was expecting to find?

  • Is the main problem addressed in this book similar to my own goal of what I would like to learn from it?

  • Is the style and format written in a way that will not hinder my ability to get the most value from this book?

  • Am I the intended audience for this book?

If after reading the review you can answer yes to all these questions, this book is the right fit for you. If not, well, there are plenty more books out there just waiting for you to read them.

when daniel pink book cover


The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing

Daniel H. Pink

288 Pages - 2019 Ⓒ Riverhead Books

"Elite performers have something in common: They’re really good at taking breaks.”

Author Background

Daniel H. Pink is the author of five New York Times bestsellers, including The Power of Regret (2022), To Sell is Human (2012), and Drive (2009). He has appeared on NPR, PBS, ABC, CNN, and other TV and radio networks in the US and abroad. He has been a contributing editor at Fast Company and Wired as well as a business columnist for The Sunday Telegraph. His articles and essays have also appeared in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic, Slate, and other publications.

His Masterclass series "Daniel Pink Teaches Sales and Persuasion" can be found here.

His website can be found here.

His TED talk "The Power of Motivation" can be found here.

He can be found on Twitter: @DanielPink

What Problem Does This Book Attempt To Address?

The main premise of When is that there is a science to good timing, rather than just art or luck. Using a combination of anecdotes, data-driven research, and trends in cultural history, Pink demonstrates how the science of timing has been proven throughout all aspects of our lives, and across all times of our lives. He uses action steps in each chapter to assist the reader in taking advantage of these time truths in their professional and personal lives.


· Concept explanation: Clear, refined, and well-communicated.

The overall concept of the book is to show how a better understanding of the factor of time can influence many areas of our lives. This primary concept of time is subdivided into three main parts: beginnings, middles and ends. From there it is broken down further within the context of each part. The importance of each section is well-communicated and easy to understand and all the components fit together nicely into one well-organized book.

· Related stories: Many

As is typical of Pink’s writing, a main story opens and closes each chapter, with other related shorter stories and experiences threaded throughout. Data is never just data; it always comes with a story. It makes the charts, graphs and stats easier to retain, especially compared to books that take a more rote memorization approach. It sometimes feels like the data is getting put on the back burner and the stories take center stage, but in the end, it allows for the information to be retained naturally when it is connected to a story. The biggest drawback to this method is that by the end of the book the structure begins to feel quite repetitive and predictable.

· Data references and studies: Many

Data and references are prevalent throughout the book, but more heavily in the beginning chapters than towards the end. A lot of the science is laid out upfront, then extrapolated on by using more tales of human experience than impersonal data trends and research outcomes.

· Charts and graphics: Moderate

There is a dozen or so charts and graphics throughout the book, with a primary focus of showing trends over time, such as people’s productivity, mood, and life satisfaction. One of the strengths of this book is that the charts that are included bring a lot of value to the content because he brings the reader’s attention to the patterns that arise visually in the chart, that would not be as obvious or clear if it were just described in the text.

· Practical application: Decent

A practical application section is featured at the end of each chapter. However, there are some times it is just more interesting than applicable. Some of these sections seem like a bit of a stretch for a practical application. While these sections include some activities the reader could work on and implement right away, others are more just generalized tips for certain situations.

In review, the book was clearly very well-researched and the time taken to refine it resulted in a very high-quality book. The quality of information and Pink’s reputation as an author leaves the reader with no doubt as to the validity of his arguments. The stories leave the reader with some “warm- fuzzy” feelings, which sometimes felt a little cheesy. While there is no shortage of statistics and data, he stories play their role in creating a book that holds the reader and teaches the information in a way that feels natural and easy. The practical application is more helpful in some areas than in others.

Writing Style & Presentation

· Tone: Personable

· Organization: Excellent

· Flow: Excellent

The tone of this book is warm and personable. The tone is that of a friendly teacher or public speaker engaging an audience, rather than an intimate one-on-one conversation. The tone is somewhere in between professional and personal. It strikes a good balance between the two. The organization is superb. It is thoughtfully broken down into beginnings, middles, and ends. I cannot think of a way that would have been better than this. Each section stands on its own and fits within the whole book in a way that feels very natural and not forced at all. As mentioned before, the organization within each chapter is starting with a main attention-catching story, coming back to it throughout the chapter then concluding it in a heart-warming way at the end. This is a great organizational strategy, but repetitive after seven chapters. The flow feels very smooth. The transitions between the main story and other content are done expertly and it does not feel at all jarring or disjointed. Overall, it is a very well-written book in terms of organization and flow.

Bringing It all Together

One thing done really well: Combining data and stories fluidly to help the reader naturally retain the information and see its real-life applicability.

One thing that could be better: Mixing in a different variety of outline structure from chapter-to-chapter.

One main thing I took away from this book was: Being aware of the impact of time and learning how to utilize it to our advantage can easily and greatly improve the quality of our lives.

Overall Recommendation

Who I would recommend this book for: People who want a better grasp on the different ways time affects us and others, and want to learn how to use it to make our lives better, more productive and more enjoyable.

Who I wouldn’t recommend this book for: People who don’t want to wade through anecdotes and feeling-oriented stories, and are just looking for a shorter, more concise version of the data and information on the science of timing.


Enhance Your Reading by Using a Workbook

If you have decided this book is a good fit for you, I have created a workbook to help you get the most value from reading it. Here is a small sample of the material contained in the workbook.

Your workbook includes:

  • Pre-reading questions

  • Chapter discussion questions with space for writing answers

  • Space to write your own summary for each chapter

  • Vocabulary words with space to write definitions and add words

  • Key terms with space to write definitions and add words

  • Chapter reflection questions

  • Final reflection questions

  • A condensed list of all discussion questions and vocabulary for reference

  • Reflection pages for writing thoughts and ideas

Discussion Question Preview

Below you will find a small sample of the discussion questions provided for every chapter of this book.

when daniel pink discussion questions inforgraphic

Key Terms Preview

  • Awe

  • Belonging hypothesis

  • Chronobiology

Vocabulary List Preview

Aplomb: (n.) complete and confident composure or self-assurance

Auspicious: (adj.) showing or suggesting that future success is likely

Beleaguer: (v.) to cause problems or difficulties for

. . . download the workbook for the full lists!

Where to Find the Workbook

All available workbooks can be found on Amazon and are free to Kindle Unlimited members.

You can find this particular workbook by clicking here.

Your Feedback is Appreciated!

Are you a student? A teacher? A manager? A parent? Why did you decide to use a workbook and did it help you get more from the book you were reading? Please share your experience so I can continue to make these workbooks a valuable resource to you and others.

oak tree reading book companion workbook discussion questio

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