Everything is timing: choose the right moment for these common situations, and your odds of success are much greater. Here’s how

Everything is timing: choose the right moment for these common situations, and your odds of success are much greater. Here’s how

Michael Kaplan

Knowing when to take action can save time, money, energy–even relationships. Read on to find out the best time to …

… pick up the check Socially speaking, it’s bad form to invite someone out for a meal and neglect to pay. Moreover, if the person happens to be doing you a favor in the process, well, then you absolutely must dig out a credit card and banish the thought of going splitsies. Marjorie Brody, M.A., a Philadelphia-based career expert and etiquette columnist for BusinessWeek Online, recently found herself on the sticky end of such a transaction: “Somebody invited me to lunch because she wanted to pick my brain. I don’t usually do this, but it was a friend of a friend. The bill came, she looked at it, and said that we should split it. Do you think I will ever help this person again?” Um, one would guess not.

… take a catnap The Spanish have it right, according to Carl E. Hunt, M.D., director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research in Bethesda, Md.: “In terms of our circadian rhythms, there is a low that occurs in the early to midafternoon time frame. Data suggests that naps of 15 minutes to one hour”–particularly if taken during that time period–“are restorative. Sleep more than an hour, and there will be increased downtime before you can become productive again.”

… be photographed “Not in the morning–which is what a lot of people think,” says Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, a New York City-based photographer who shoots for Vanity Fair. “You’ve been sleeping on one side of your face or the other. So it’s puffy. You want to start with hair and makeup at 10:30 or 11 and get on the set by noon. That’s what you’d do if you were Paris Hilton. By the way, you don’t want to be photographed late in the afternoon, either–when you’re tired and it shows on your face and in your eyes.”

… work late Your best bet is Tuesday nights, between 6 and 9, the hours when human productivity peaks. “The biological clock has an alertness profile, between 6 and 7 in the morning, to help you wake up,” says Kirsty Kerin, Ph.D., a circadian expert who has advised corporations on how to maximize night-shift workforces. “Then, between 4 and 5 p.m., the alertness profile rises again. It starts to peak at 6.”

The reason you want to select Tuesday as your late night has to do with when you are best suited to be tired in the morning–and assume that you will be if you work till 9 or 10 the night before. “First and second days back at work”–that is, typically, all day Monday and Tuesday morning–“are not especially productive because you are out of your routine,” Kerin says. “If you are sleep-deprived on either of those days, forget it, they’ll be shot.” Another reason why Tuesday is ideal: If you need to spend a second night in the office that week, you can do it on Thursday and have a good rest between the two sessions of overtime.

… thank your parents “Right now,” suggests Mary Marcdante, the Del Mar, Calif.-based author of My Mother, My Friend: The Ten Most Important Things to Talk About With Your Mother (Fireside, 2001). “There are no times soon enough to tell our parents how grateful we are for their raising us.”

Excerpted from The Best Time to Do Everything (Bloomsbury, 2005) by Michael Kaplan [c] 2005.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Weider Publications

COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group