Daily schedule of Benjamin Franklin

From Maira Kalman’s And the Pursuit of Happiness, this is just too good. It appears that there is in fact enough minutes in the day to get stuff done. What’s your daily schedule?

[New York Times via swissmiss]


  • Delighted to see any little hints I made in my lifetime still be of any use to your times. Your obedient and humble servant, B. Franklin.

  • I guess Mr Franklin worked at home, or at least, he didn’t have to travel an average of two hours daily

    • I don’t think they did a whole lot of daily commuting during that time. I guess you’ll have to cut your time for prosecuting the present study and putting things in their place.

      • My commute of 2 hours a day, more or less depending on whether I go out for lunch, sure does make a mess of the day’s schedule. And how often do I manage an 8 hour workday?

  • Not bad, no commute and a six-hour work day.

  • I would shoot myself if I had to deal with a long commute each morning.

  • There is no dish-washing. I envy him..

  • Presumably, this is after his wife died and his children were grown.

  • What, no playing hide-and-seek with the little ones for 30 minutes? No conversation with your life partner?

    He obviously didn’t have to have daily meetings to discuss other meetings with others in multiple timezones.

    That schedule would be nice wouldn’t it?

    • I’d have said the same a year or so ago, but I’ve discovered that the obligatory hide-and-seek and life partner conversations actually make a schedule like BF’s even MORE workable, rather than less. Before we had kids, I was a lot more welcoming of meetings and even allowed them to run long. I worked until 8 pm or so and would frequently pop open the computer to work more on weekends, even if that “work” just included delving into email. But not now.

      Now, two minutes into any meeting, I say “okay, so what have we got here…” or something similar, then sum up a goal and set a time to finish. And I have promised to my wife to knock off work at 6 pm each night, at which time I go 100% into hanging out with the kids and/or prepping dinner. When they go to bed, I try to get the quality time with my wife. And if not in the evenings, definitely on the weekends. I don’t always make it on the schedule, but everyone is happier when I do… me included. And it means being more efficient during the day, too. Because I know the clock will shut me down at the tail end.

      And yep, like Franklin, I’m blessed with no commute. But I also work in a different time zone (6 hours difference) from most of my colleagues. Sum of it being, that I’ve come around to thinking that the real problem with “modern times” is not that there’s so much more to do and so many ways to contact those doing it, but that we’ve become so distracted by all the interactions that we’ve forgotten the merits of simple, dependable schedules and routine.

      The most successful people I know are often those who are stingy time and regular about their hours. The virtues of habit and all that.

  • There’s a lot of merit to that schedule.


  • Interesting…but very difficult to follow in the present world…
    lifestyle has completely changed…and so has the outlook of people…

  • Any clue to what “address powerful goodness” was?

  • Everyone’s griping about their commute, kids, etc…but I like the two questions at the beginning and end of the day. Good ways to keep everything in perspective.

  • ken farmer May 2, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Any idea how well he stuck to this schedule? Was this just wishful thinking or more material for his austere “Poor Richard” public image?

  • Interesting how most comments use this graphic as an excuse for whining about their daily labors. Unless you were assaulted, nobody made you have children or get married. Your two-hour commute is a choice of lifestyle.

    Now, since you’ve obviously found time to hit this site and write your snark, maybe add a few of these moments together and find a way to get your life so in balance you don’t need to cry about it on a data visualization site. K, thanks.

  • 225 years later, I’m surprised to see this is remarkably similar to my own rough schedule. I wake up later, and take one hour less for lunch.
    6AM-8AM rise, wash, breakfast etc.
    8AM-9AM public transit commute: check emails (contrive day’s business, prosecute study)
    9AM-1PM work
    1PM-2PM lunch, browse RSS feeds, Mint, FB & web news sites (overlook accounts)
    2PM-6PM work
    6PM-7PM commute: iphone games, music & podcasts (diversion)
    7PM-9PM dinner, family time
    9PM-11PM, clean up & spouse time
    11PM-6AM sleep
    Of course that doesn’t always work out as planned, but that’s the general target, and I must imagine the same went for Ben Franklin’s day back then.