Adapting Ben Franklin’s Daily Schedule to Your Life
Using Time Wisely
Let me first be clear: I hate scheduling. Abhor it. I like the results of a scheduled day and use a planning system for my work and home life. However, there is something about mapping out my day and week that feels very restrictive and kills spontaneity. Seeing my week planned before it has occurred takes the wind out of my sails. 98% of my time is spent doing things that I have to do and very little is spent doing whatever I want to do at the spur of the moment, which is my natural mode of operation. I cannot escape, however, the benefits of a planned day and week and therefore force myself to plan at the beginning of every day. As it turns out, most of the men I have admired over the years, both famous and not, take planning seriously and take advantage of the hours given them. I try to plan as lightweight as possible (leaving room for spontaneity) which seems to be a good compromise. That’s why I was excited to see Ben Franklin’s daily schedule wasn’t extremely rigid and was actually close to my daily routine.
The Value of Time
I think most men look at scheduling and see it as something important to ensure bills get paid and special dates and appointments are not missed. Obviously these are benefits, but our mindset should be to take advantage of the hours given to us and not let them slip away unpurposed and unused. We ought to understand the value of time.
Ben Franklin’s Daily Schedule
(Click the schedule below for a larger version)
As you can see not much has changed since the 1700’s. We still have the 24 hour day and when we take a look at it in this context it is clear how precious time really is. It’s difficult to imagine raising a family, hunting and gardening, and managing a homestead (which were\are the basic duties of a man), much less inventing, writing books, sailing to Europe, defending values of a free people, and helping found a country in such a limited amount of time. This goes to show how much can be done when a man puts his mind to making his day purposeful.
Addressing Powerful Goodness
Powerful Goodness was Franklin’s name for God. He was a man of faith, but did not care much for the preaching of the day. So many times he would go to church (after being hounded by the ministers to do so) and hear the preacher address a great topic and yet provide no practical application or encouragement to be better. But he never lost his faith. He considered addressing Powerful Goodness a priority of each day. You can read his dairy online here.
And conceiving God to be the fountain of wisdom, I thought it right and necessary to solicit His assistance for obtaining it; to this end I formed the following little prayer, which was prefixed to my tables of examination, for daily use:
O powerful Goodness! bountiful Father! merciful Guide! increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest.Strengthen my resolutions to perform what that wisdom dictates. Accept my kind offices to Thy other children as the only return in my power for Thy continual favors to me.
Adapting Ben Franklin’s Schedule to Modern Life
You may have noticed that Dr. Franklin’s schedule is missing some things from modern life. Time for exercise, cooking, cleaning, family and friends, soccer matches, trips to the grocery store, etc. Don’t let this discourage you or count out his schedule as impractical and outdated. Each day doesn’t have to be the same, and when you set out to use your time effectively you may be surprised how much you can accomplish in the waking hours of a day.
Here is a modern version of Franklin’s schedule which I found on the Self Styled Life Blog which I thought was brilliant. I created my version from Excel instead of Word and it is available for download below.
Ben Franklin’s Modern Schedule
Below is a basic template which looks much like Ben’s original.
My Ben Franklin’s Daily Schedule
This version is my typical daily routine. Getting up at a consistent hour is the hardest part. Also, not visible here is how my morning and night are broken up. Some nights are for family time, others are for side-work etc.
Plain Ben Franklin’s Daily Schedule
Here is an empty template if you prefer to customize.