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3 Productivity Lessons From Benjamin Franklin


Benjamin Franklin was many things: an inventor, a businessman, one of the founders of the nation. But first and foremost, he was productive. His daily schedule from his autobiography allots seven hours for sleep, eight for work, a combined three for breakfast, planning his day, and “addressing powerful goodness.” But what can we learn from Franklin’s schedule, over 200 years later?

Ben Franklin 

(Photo Credit: Jason Langheine/Flickr)

That’s what Tim Goessling wanted to find out. Over at The Good Men Project, Goessling gives his account of what it was like, living by Franklin’s 1791 schedule in the present day.

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“Having spent a day on Franklin’s time I can say that it felt both similar and radically different to my life now,” he writes. “It was similar because, like many people, he spent a bulk of his time working away at his job. It was way different because he scheduled time for goal setting and self-evaluation, an area I’m currently lacking in. It made me examine not just HOW I was spending my time, but also WHY, which is something, in my opinion, that we never think about enough.”

How can we be more like Ben Franklin?

1. Set aside time for planning.

When’s the last time you got up three hours before your work day, just to have time for planning and contemplation? And yet, as anyone who’s ever spent an hour looking for an important paper in the piles on his desk can attest, a little planning in the short-term equals time saved later on.

2. Keep track of your accounts.

Goessling took this to mean his social media accounts as well as his bank accounts, which enabled him both to make sure he wasn’t overdrawn and to connect with his friends. Not bad.

3. Have a purpose.

Franklin began every day by addressing powerful goodness and ended it by considering what good he’d done. By tying our goals to a deeper sense of meaning, we get more done and help both ourselves and others.

Here’s Franklin’s schedule in its entirety. Prepare to be awed by the man who did all of this without productivity apps (or running water).

Ben Franklin Schedule 

(Photo Credit: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin)

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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