Benjamin Franklin lived a productive life. Much of his success was due to the efficient way in which he ordered his day.

Here are some valuable lessons to be drawn from Franklin’s example…

1. Keep it simple.

Franklin was a busy man, yet he organized his daily activities simply into six time blocks that focused what was essential rather than an overwhelming “To-Do List”

2. Set your intention and plan for the day

Before beginning the day’s work, Franklin asked the question: What good shall I do this day? The answer to this question was chosen from a personal list of 13 character-building qualities that he intentionally cultivated. Then he began to “contrive day’s business, and take the resolution of the day”— i.e. create a plan of action to guide him through the day.  

3. Create time blocks for deep and shallow work.

Franklin scheduled two four-hour time blocks for uninterrupted focus on his most important tasks. He also allocated a two-hour time block between these for lunch and reflection— e.g. “reading, overlooking accounts.” This kind of planning allowed Franklin to finish his most important tasks when he had the most energy to do so and with the greatest efficiency. 

4. Dedicate time to learning.

Franklin set aside time for personal development, study and learning beyond work. This included music, art, reading books and papers, hobbies (he was an avid chess player), and discussions with friends.

5. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” is one of Franklin’s most famous adages. The habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, trains our brain to fall asleep faster and improves the quality of your sleep.

6. Spend quiet time alone.

Part of Franklin’s early morning routine was to spend time in prayer and meditation—i.e. “address Powerfull Goodness.” In this daily practice, he found clarity of heart, mental focus to plan the day, and inner fortitude to follow through on his plans.

7. Reflect on your day in the evenings.

At the end of the day, Franklin would evaluate himself and his day’s accomplishment with the question: “What good have I done today?” He celebrated his success and took note of what didn’t go so well during the day. 

“I was surpris’d to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish.”

He was not looking for perfection but rather improvement. That, after all, was the point of the daily plan.

Mayo Oshin observes, “What matters most is not the contents of the plan, it’s the decision to make a plan in the first place.”

The familiar saying proves to be wise counsel, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Source: Mayo Oshin,

Image: David Martin, The White House Historical Association, Public Domain