In Bed with Benjamin Franklin: Time Management Tips From a Founding Father

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve wheeled out this Benjamin Franklin quote on the blog this year. It’s pretty much on the tip of my tongue these days, informing how I plan and spend my time. With each passing year, I’ve become more focused on wringing the most out of every minute because I want to know that after I’m gone, I’ll leave a body of work and legacy I can be proud of.

To do that, I knew I needed a plan to maximize productivity without sacrificing quality of life. Since I recently invested in my health and general well being by committing to eight hours of sleep each night, I also needed to ensure my waking hours are as fruitful as possible. This is where Franklin comes in.

Benjamin Franklin, #Goals

One of America’s most recognizable founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin was a statesman, an intellectual, an author, the first postmaster general of the U.S., and the brilliant mind behind the idea for free public libraries. The extensive list of his major accomplishments is proof positive that he was a grade-A productivity hack (how else would he have found time for his many affaires de coeur?). And while Franklin never had to contend with the time suck that is the Internet, I figured I could learn and apply a thing or two about his approach to managing time.

Franklin’s approach to time was simple, his success attributed to his famous routine. He went to bed at 10 in the evening and rose early at 5 a.m. so he could focus on his personal pursuits of the day after his mind had been adequately rested and not yet besieged by the day’s distractions of work.


A New 9 to 5

Fortunately, like Franklin, I am a morning person. I’m accustomed to waking up at 6 a.m., heading off to work early, returning by 7 p.m. and trying to pursue my personal goals at the end of the day. However, I’d often be exhausted after a full day at my demanding full-time job, often too wiped out to accomplish any quality work.  I spent many a wasted evening feeling guilty about all the things I hadn’t done.

Now that I’ve adopted Franklin’s approaches to routine, I go to bed to at 9 p.m. (and feel like a grandma in the process), but when I rise at 5 a.m., it gives me nearly three full hours to do quality work I love before heading off to my full-time job. During those early morning hours, I organize my day and spend time doing the things I’m most passionate about, including penning these blog posts. Evenings are spent, instead, focusing on relaxation and lower priority tasks.

I’m prouder of the body of work I’ve produced during the past few weeks than ever before, and I’m excited to see what else will emerge once I’ve truly solidified this new, more efficient routine.

Thinking Ahead

This new approach to sleep and time isn’t without its downsides. It means that going out late at night is now a rare option and mindlessly surfing the internet into the wee hours are a thing of the past, I’m incredibly grateful to have embraced this new way of living just as I’ve begun to pursue a long-time passion project with even more focus than ever before. I’m excited to see what the next few months hold.

Although Franklin’s success can’t be entirely attributed to his routine–he was also brilliant and knew how to prioritize his day like a boss–I think sticking to this new daily routine is going to be a great start for my productivity going forward.