“Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.”
Arnold Henry Glasow (Author; Glasow’s Gloombusters)
“The right thing at the wrong time is a wrong thing.”
Joshua Harris (Author; I Kissed Dating Goodbye)
“Life is about timing.”
Carl Lewis (Olympian; 9X Track & Field Gold Medalist)
Get a better answer by asking at a better time.
On Mondays, I don’t expect anyone to get back to me on email or on the phone right away because most people are busy organizing their weeks. Instead, I unplug and get as much mission related work done as humanly possible. This includes learning new material, writing, and preparing for presentations. On Tuesdays, I check my email inbox more than usual and respond to other peoples requests as soon as possible. I use this day as my main networking day, staying plugged in and open to receiving and sharing ideas (and suggestions). Before I go to bed on Tuesday night, I make sure all of my inboxes, social media messages, and voicemails are clear – because it’s time to go to war.
On Wednesdays, I’m on fire patrol. My number one priority is to diffuse drama and unpredicted issues as quickly as possible. I stay extra self-aware and make sure that I don’t get sucked into a side comments or snarky emails. I also purposefully post a motivating, anti-hater status update to all of my social media accounts. When possible, from Wednesday afternoon onward, I avoid people altogether. Then, it’s Thursday – the best day of the week. Thursday is my day. I do all of my asking on Thursdays. I give from Friday to Wednesday and ask big on Thursdays, especially on Thursday afternoons. I schedule all of my biggest seminars, client meetings, phone calls, and negotiations on Thursdays. Finally, from Friday evening through the weekend, I focus on being extra productive (while online chatter is at a minimum). I post motivating, fun status updates and, on Sunday, I post a new blog article. I try to time all of my activities as strategically as possible. But why?
Timing Crushes Reason
Black out bad dates. Understand that timing crushes reason. When it comes to achieving your goal, stop thinking about how and start thinking about when. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at 1,112 judicial rulings made by 8 different Israeli parole board judges over a 10-month period. Each judge heard between 14-35 cases in a day and took a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon meal break. The data included the time of day when the prisoner’s request was considered and its place in the day’s docket. The study found that prisoners were granted parole 65% of the time if their cases were heard early in the workday or immediately after eating (see the below chart where the dotted line represents a meal break). However, prisoners were granted parole 0% of the time if their cases were heard at the end of the day or just before a meal break. In other words, a prisoner’s fate was decided solely by timing, not reason. Not even judges in a first-world country trained at length to evaluate the law free from passion are immune to the effects of timing.
Leverage time by anticipating people’s cyclical predispositions. According to Debbie Moskowitz, Ph.D., a psychologist at McGill University in Montreal, most people are likely to be very demanding and disagreeable on Mondays and Tuesdays. But, instead of creating conflict, this acts to increase their productivity. As a result, task-setting activities like organizing work, setting goals, and delegating peaks on Tuesday afternoons. Unpleasantness, on the other hand, peaks a day later. On Wednesdays, most people become agitated, uncompromising, and erratic. By Wednesday afternoon, everyone with a regular work schedule wants one of two things: space or submission. Then, according to Dr. Moskowitz, this bullheaded behavior disappears and people become more flexible and accommodating. On Thursdays, everyone is open to negotiation and compromise because they want to wrap up the work week in a relaxing manner. Marcus Wynne of Psychology Today suggests the following schedule based on Dr. Moskowitz’s research: organize, plan, and delegate on Mondays; follow your boss’s directions on Tuesdays; avoid conflict with co-workers on Wednesdays, ask for favors on Thursdays (when to ask for a raise); and ask a colleague to do things your way on Fridays.
When To Ask For A Raise
Every week holds a few golden I agree hours. Recently, I took a 5 week online course titled How to Write a Bestseller Book Proposal and I asked a question that stopped the publishing agent who was being interviewed in his tracks: “What is the best day and time to submit a book proposal to a publisher?” Surprised, the agent responded, “Wow, um – who asked that? – I would have to say, most certainly, Thursday afternoon after lunch, after the publisher finally gets caught up on all of her work.” Understand that Thursday afternoon is magic time. It’s the big sigh of relief everyone gives after surmounting hump day. Thursdays are the best days to ask for promotions, pay raises, and new employment. They are also great days to ask for first dates, discounts, and forgiveness.
I have an entire bag of tricks for the fifth day of the week. One thing I like to do on this day – whether it’s by phone, email, or social media – is spend an hour or two reaching out to new connections. I network hard on Thursdays afternoons because everyone is always more responsive. And, whenever possible, I give seminars and speeches right after lunch on Thursdays. The audience is always more open, playful, and fun while still being focused and engaged. The most influential Thursday-centric trick I’ve come across is contacting potential connections, clients, and employees (or employers) and acting like I work for them. Once a week, every Thursday afternoon, I will reach out by promoting these people and their products, or by giving them information I’ve researched about their businesses or interests. It’s almost impossible to be annoying when you’re only contacting someone once a week and giving them something for free in the process. Eventually, you will be acknowledged. And acknowledgement leads to connection leads to collaboration. Of course, Thursday is not the perfect day for everything. For example, I post my blog articles on Sundays because that’s when people have the most time to read.
Make Everyday A Thursday
See what you want through other people’s eyes. When presenting any kind of message to anyone, the two things you should focus on are your audience and your intent. Ask yourself over and over again, who am I speaking to and what outcome am I trying to achieve? The problem is that most people focus 100% on the outcome they want and 0% on the audience they are trying to influence. If, for instance, you want a raise, your brain’s initial response will be to think of all the reasons you deserve the raise. You’ll spend time preparing a presentation that helps make your case and helps boost your self confidence levels. You’ll carefully consider the best time for YOU to ask for the raise, as in, the time when you feel the most self assured. Instead, you should be considering why your boss should give you a raise in the first place. What’s in it for him? And you should carefully consider when he will be the most receptive to your request.
Asking on Thursday afternoon is an excellent starting point, but it may not be enough. You should also consider the particular rhythm of your audience’s emotional states. All decisions are emotional decisions. This includes the decision of whether or not to give you a pay raise. More than anything else, the emotional state of your audience will determine the outcome of your request. Don’t let your sense of urgency or your own emotional state override the timing of your audience’s emotional state. The goal is not to force other people to choose your outcome, but to help them to see your outcome as their outcome.
Make every day a Thursday. Why settle for having only one Thursday a week? Paying attention to other people’s emotional states, as well as your own, will help you improve everyone’s state. Very often someone’s emotional state is all that stands between a “yes” and a “no”, or between you and achieving your goal. By learning to positively influence a person’s state, you can bring them down from the erratic heights of a Wednesday hump or build them up from the lull of a wasted weekend. The key is to be aware of the importance of timing without being ruled by it. Don’t accept negative data, influence it. Instead of letting bad Wednesdays be a self-fulfilling prophecy, change them to Thursdays. I clear my inbox before Wednesdays to free up time in case there is a conflict. I also post status updates on how to deal with haters or how to overcome obstacles because it gives people a positive outlet for their frustrations. For me, these things help turn Wednesdays into Thursdays.
Timing is a reflection of emotion, which is a reflection of physiology and focus. In the above judicial study, the worst time to request parole was right before lunch (time) because the Israeli judges were impatient (emotion); the judges were impatient because they were hungry (physiology) and, presumably, because food was all they could think about (focus). Focus and physiology affect emotion affects timing affects outcome. Change any point in the chain and you change the outcome. Change any point in the chain and you can change every day into a Thursday.