Benjamin Franklin: Ninja Day Planner

Before flying kites in nasty weather to experiment with electricity, Ben Franklin was a busy little guy, teaching himself to read Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin; opening the first fire house in the soon to be U.S., and many other public service projects in his residence of Philadelphia.

So how did he manage to get so much done?

Many little things, done with purpose, over and over.

But the one thing that jumped out at me while reading his autobiography was his daily routine. In a little day planner of his own design, Franklin created a template for scheduling his day, with 6 distinct parts.

It’s worth noting that Ben was terribly disorganized by nature. He admits that he tended to rely on his memory rather than tools, so it took great effort for him to stick to much of a structure. In fact, he almost gave up hope on ever being organized (I can relate to that!). Ultimately, he realized the value in being intentional with each day, and the structure below became his’ template.

Benjamin Franklin’s Order

1. Early Morning – “What good shall I do this day?”
An early riser, Ben would wake up at 5:00am each day, bath, and thank God for another day. He would spend time until 7:00am identifying his goals, planning his workday, spend a little time reading and then eat breakfast. The whole section includes the powerful question: “What good shall I do this day?” Ask yourself this, and see what happens.

2. Work
From 8:00am until 12noon would attack his plan for the day. I personally have found this time of the day to be by far my most productive. Imagine showing up to work with a super clear plan, and four hours to make it happen!

3. Noon
Franklin says that for the noon hour, he would read (blogs), check accounts (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter), and dine (lunch). I can see him tweeting now: @TownOfPhilly “Take home my latest invention for FREE #TheFranklinStove”

4. Work
Back at it after lunch, Ben tore through another 4 hours of work until calling it quits at 5:00pm. Another fine example of a 40 workweek – if it was good enough for him…

5. Evening – “What good have I done today?”
Wrapping up things with the answer to his morning question, Mr. Franklin’s evening time from 6pm until 10pm includes an examination of the day, music, conversation with others and dinner. How important it is to review the day and ask what you have learned! Don’t let those lessons go to waste, make sure to take the time to reflect and digest what mattered most about each day.

6. Night
Perhaps you have heard that the human being needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. With a few exceptions, this is absolutely true. Benjamin Franklin, Ninja Day Planner knew this, and understood the importance of adequate rest. This is something I need to do better. As a father of a two year old, I tend to stay up later to do the things I want to do, but this is counterproductive, since it I only have less energy to do everything else that matters.

Now you too can be a Ninja Day Planner, and, to quote John Acuff, you can “Sucker Punch” your day by getting the jump on it!


2 thoughts on “Benjamin Franklin: Ninja Day Planner

  1. It’s so easy to forget in the modern day world that we don’t need complex technology to organize our lives. We need common sense, a plan and motivation to acheive it. Tell me the last time your “smart” phone provided any of that LOL.

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