10 habits plucked from Benjamin Franklin’s daily to 2x your productivity
Benjamin Franklin, the founding fathers of the United States. In his 84 years of existence, he has achieved more than an 84 year could. During his existence, he invented the lightning rod, made significant discoveries in physics, wrote best-selling books, composed music and played the violin for himself, and founded many civic organizations. These are just a few of his achievements.
How was he able to do this within 84 years of his life, given that he had around 12 hours to work out of 24 hours in a day. To understand this, we need to peep into his daily life.
Before I share the ten things, here are 13 virtues that Benjamin Franklin lived by.
- Temperance: Eat not to dullness and drink not to elevation.
- Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
- Order: Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.
- Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
- Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
- Industry: Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary actions.
- Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
- Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
- Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forebear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
- Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes or habitation.
- 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.
- Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
- Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
While I share the ten tips that Benjamin Franklin used, here’s what he has to say about these 13 virtues. “Fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till I should have gone thro’ the thirteen.”
In his daily, he would track these virtues in a little book and tick against it if he commits a fault. This would go along until he doesn’t commit any more mistakes in a virtue. Here’s a glimpse of his daily virtue
With that said, here are the 10 habits that made him successful throughout his life.
#1 Keep it simple
One thing everyone who knew Franklin could figure out that his life was full of simplicity. He would divide the day into 6 blocks, of which one block would be for sleep. It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that he’d sleep only for four hours a day.
No groundbreaking, rigorous & hard tasks for the day. Simple, highly essential & ruthlessly focuses tasks for the day.
#2 Sleep & wake up at the same time
One of the most heard saying while we grew was “Early to bed and early to rise, makes you healthy & wise”. Franklin definitely lived up to this saying. People who’ve seen him in person have noted and passed onto their generations that he would wake up by 5 am every single day.
But this isn’t the point. It’s easy to wake up at the same time every day, but it takes real efforts to sleep at the same time every day. Because finishing daily tasks before the bedtime needs a lot of planning.
Franklin was an ace of doing this. Furthermore, it is the consistency in your sleeping hours. The most important advantage of going to bed at the same time every day, you train your brain to sleep faster. Not to mention, the importance of falling asleep faster. Your brain rests more, recovers faster and gets ready for the next day way faster.
#3 Spend quiet time alone regularly
I have personal experience of this. Whenever I run out of inspiration for topics for blog posts and even when I’m thinking for the content of blog posts. I turn off my phone & PC, take a notepad and pen, move out and think.
Almost instantly, I find myself thinking in one direction and writing points I need to cover in a blog post. My golden hour is sunset, it simply works like a charm, every single time.
Franklin would do the same every day after taking a shower. He’d spend time for prayers & meditation. Needless to say that those days were internet & mobile free, there was a lot of time for such activities. This solitude hour gave Franklin the best control of himself, clarity & focus he needed to work throughout the day.
#4 Have an intention to plan your day
Every day before going to work, Franklin would set an intention to an important question for the day, “What good shall I do today?”
He would plan his day according to this question and the answer of course. This would be a part of tracking his virtues. If he fails to commit to virtue, he’d restart.
Setting an intention to a day not only helped him plan his day but also actually get it done. Human brains are extremely powerful, an intention is a motivation in itself. This motivation will help you stay focused throughout the day.
#5 Invest time on learning
Learning has been the core element of human evolution. Be it learning to use fire or the wheels, humans have evolved only with the help of learning.
Franklin would invest time on learning from projects apart from work. Most likely, he would read books and/or papers.
I seriously envy people of those times when they had time for all this. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, the world was supposed to be a small place, but I find it smaller, without the internet.
No one’s to be blamed, we’ve made ourselves too much dependant on the internet for our daily lives.
Either way, you cannot undo the time, but you can undo the wasting of time and spend that on doing more fruitful work. Like working on your hobby or taking guitar lesson you’ve been planning for all this while.
Trust me, it will pay off in the long run.
#6 Create time blocks for your working hours
Time is malleable.
The meaning of this is way bigger than the sentence itself. One would need to understand the fact that there is nothing called time, it’s just imaginary metric developed by humans to measure the planetary motions.
Let’s not get deeper with this any further and focus on what Franklin did.
Franklin would have 2 four-hour blocks — 8 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm. He would use these blocks to do deep and single focused work for the day.
In between these two blocks, he would have lunch and other less important tasks for the day between 12 pm to 2 pm. The important thing is to do most of the significant tasks when Franklin has most of the energy to do so.
#7 Put things back in order after work
I understand that tiring day when you had an endless day when you are at the verge of the end of the day. You leave the workplace as it is, disordered and only to find that it is no more in order the next morning.
Psychologically speaking, it is not good to have a disordered workplace. It is a waste of time and energy to set things up right at the beginning of the work hours.
To avoid this problem, Franklin would clean his desk. This would be one last thing at work. This would ensure that he has a clean place to work the next day.
#8 Have a downtime regularly
The last part of Franklin’s day would including listening to music, read books, spend time with friend and relax doing simply nothing.
Downtime is of utmost importance these days. With a lot of overwhelming tasks and information throughout the day, it would be simply a tiring day to end.
Having a downtime doing nothing will relax your muscles and brain and help you get ready to sleep. It is a powerful productivity practice to re-energize your brain for the upcoming day.
#9 Look back at your work in the evenings
When Franklin would lay down in his bed, just before he dozes off, he’d go back in time and ask himself and ask an important question to himself, “What good did I do today?”
You’d wonder, why doing good was so important to him that he’d start and end his day. Doin good meant something back in the days, doing good was a part of people’s values. Sadly, very few people have such values these days.
Franklin would note down his daily habits, note what went well and do it more often and include it in his daily schedule. Furthermore, a daily audit can not only help you analyze daily habits but also help you improve your memory power.
Many brain trainers insist on doing this every day and themselves do this every single day.
#10 Don’t be a perfectionist
In his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Currey explains that Franklin would himself struggle to keep up with his daily schedule. Even when there where no distractions like the internet & mobile back then, he would struggle to keep up with his daily schedule.
If he too struggled to keep up with his schedule, what makes him be the person he is known as today? He never stopped trying to keep up the schedule he made.
That’s what is his 10th and most important habit. He never expected himself to be the perfectionist. If he fails, he’d never stop doing, but he’d try harder but with no expectation to do it like a pro.
Failing to plan is planning to fail
Even though his schedule was active over 300 years ago, it is still highly relevant. If you and I, abide by a schedule we create, it’s a sure thing that we’d improve exponentially. It is more important to keep trying than to just plan.
Hope, these habits have helped you understand where you lag.
Originally published at http://www.smarterworld.in on April 24, 2019.