I find it fascinating that we can still learn valuable lessons from those that lived hundreds of years ago. I recently came across an article on theladders.com that talks about Benjamin Franklin’s daily schedule and how even today, we can learn from it to be more productive.
Benjamin Franklin made a list of 13 virtues that he lived by in order to keep his daily schedule productive. They were:
1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
3. Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
6. Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
8. Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
9. Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
11. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; Never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
12. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
According to historians, he worked through these in order, and did not move onto the next one until he mastered the prior one.
Taken from his autobiography, a sample daily schedule for him looked like this:
5:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. – “Rise, wash, and address Powerful Goodness; contrive day’s business and take the resolution of the day; prosecute the present study; and breakfast
8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – “Work.”
12:00 p.m. – 2:00 pm. – “Read and overlook my accounts and dine.”
2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. – “Work.”
6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – “Put things in their places; supper, music, or diversion, or conversation; examination of the day.”
10:00 p.m. – 5:00 a.m. – “Sleep.”
He also asked a question to himself every morning – “What good shall I do this day?” In the evening he asked, “What good have I done today?” He lived his life with intention.
There are some valuable lessons we can learn from his schedule:
1. Keep it simple – Notice how simple his schedule is. Also notice how he scheduled time for things like conversation, music, sleep. I also like how he focuses his day on what good he will do instead of just listing out things to get done.
2. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day – One of Benjamin Franklin’s most famous quotes was, “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” According to his schedule he lived by this. I like that he allotted the proper amount of time for sleep. While everyone is different, I definitely require a good 7-8 hours of sleep each night to be at my best.
3. Spend quiet time alone – This time is what allows for clarity and keeping one’s self grounded. We all have such busy days and many of us at times forget to take time out for ourselves.
4. Set your intention and plan for the day – This is one of my favorites. I’ve always found it important to set goals for the day. It allows you to stay focused and make sure you prioritize and get the most important goals for the day achieved. It’s so easy now days to get distracted and off course from your original intentions for the day.
5. Dedicate time to learning – It’s always important to keep learning. Reading is a great way to do this and is one of my favorite hobbies. I think it’s important to continually be striving for growth within yourself. Benjamin Franklin’s schedule included time to “prosecute the present study.”
6. Put things back in order after work – I think Benjamin Franklin and I might have had a lot in common. I also need to put things back in order. I like things to be in their proper place at all times. If they are not, I feel disheveled. When I come into a clean desk each day, I feel so much more organized.
7. Reflect on your day in the evenings – This is one I could do more of. I think it’s important to look back at your day and learn from it. What went well? What didn’t go well? Where could I have saved time?
Do you have a daily routine that helps to keep you productive? I’d love to hear your tips. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.