"Afternoons are the Bermuda Triangles of our days." So writes Daniel Pink in his new book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. According to research, a dip in energy and cognitive awareness that Pink calls a "trough" affects human performance in profound ways.
A decline in vigilance in the afternoon is especially obvious in the medical field. Anesthesiologists are four times more likely to make a mistake at 3 p.m. than they are at 9 a.m. Gastroenterologists discover 5 percent fewer polyps during afternoon colonoscopies. The rate of hand-washing among nurses declines by 38 percent as the day wears on.
This phenomenon also reaches into the classroom—students taking standardized tests in the afternoon do significantly worse than morning test takers; the courtroom—judges are less likely to grant parole in the afternoon; and the boardroom—quarterly earnings reports are perceived more negatively in the afternoon, regardless of the information being reported.
This is because, explains Pink, most humans are governed by an internal clock, in which performance, happiness, and energy peak in mid-morning around 11 a.m., plummet around 3 p.m., and rise again around 8 p.m. This pattern repeats across days, years, and even lifetimes—people report lowest happiness in their late 40s.
However, Pink stresses that there is a simple way to boost performance and avoid these consequences. By simply taking a break, refocusing attention, or going for a walk, many of these negative outcomes can be mitigated.
Timing is not limited to individuals. Synchronizing timing in groups leads to both organizational success and personal happiness. The hearts of chorus members, notes Pink, synchronize during performances.
Connecting people to their environment and each other depends on external timing cues as well as interpersonal relationships. These cues are critical to success in the workplace.
"Certain activities—product development or marketing—establish their own tempos. But those rhythms necessarily must synchronize with the external rhythms of organizational life—fiscal years, sales cycles, even the age of the company or the stage of people's careers," Pink writes.
Internal and external cues point to good timing for Security Management's latest venture. Along with this issue of the magazine, readers will find Security Technology, a supplement dedicated to providing news, case studies, and thought leadership around the latest in security technology.
The success of this quarterly supplement will rely on synchronization with security experts and technology leaders. As technology increasingly governs our personal and organizational futures, the time has come to share your experiences and give us your feedback. What technology stories do you want to tell? What issues do you want to learn more about? By synchronizing our efforts, we create a better outcome for everyone.