I Lived a Day According to Ben Franklin’s Schedule and It Changed My Life

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About Tim Goessling of TheKnow

Tim Goessling lives in Los Angeles where he likes gardening, a great book, choice vinyl, and heady conversation. He loves Game of Thrones, Grand Theft Auto, and the films of Michael Bay. His work has been published on TheKnow, Thought Catalog, and Tubefilter. Reach Tim @ThisLALife.


  1. Nick Jurczak says:

    Great article, great experiment, and great philosophy. As a college student I may have to modify this a little but I’d love to give this a shot. If you want more data for your experiment I would be more than happy to send you how things went for me.

  2. Love this kind of stuff. He was a very intelligent person according to history!

  3. Interesting experiment, however, at the end I found that it did not deliver on what was alluded to in the title. In particular, the “and it changed my life” part. To what extent did this change your life. In the writing, there were at least 2 or 3 instances in which you directly noted a similarity between Franklin’s schedule and the one that you already follow. Other than waking at 5am and doing some reflection that you felt was “kind of powerful”, I am not seeing in your writing how a profound impact (as would be expected for a “life changing” experience) was manifest. Overall, I like the concept and the experiment, but I found myself disappointed at the mismatch between what the title indicated and what was actually presented in the article.

    • Dale Thomas Vaughn says:

      I think asking “Why?” before and after every day is profoundly life-changing to any of us who’ve been trapped in the treadmill of regular real world schedules.

      • Perhaps. But I was not really disputing that point. Instead, I am saying that particular point was not a focus in this article at all. At most, the life-changing impact was left to implication or allusion. Even a single paragraph focusing on how and in what ways the asking of that “why” each day would have a tangible or otherwise practical impact would have addressed the issue.

        For instance, I ask myself “why” all of the time – not just at the beginning and ending of each day on my treadmill. However, asking why and taking action based on the answer (or the discovery of a lack of an answer) is a different thing entirely. Sometimes, asking “why” becomes part of that treadmill.

  4. I’m getting ready to go into business on my own next year and SO looking forward to setting my own schedule, which I think will resemble Ben’s (minus the 5 a.m. wakeup). I’ve found that my most productive hours don’t really line up with a typical ‘day in the office’ schedule and can’t wait to have more autonomy over how I spend my time. This was inspiring – thanks!

  5. I loved this. Very inspirational. (Although I have to point out that Franklin’s afternoon work schedule was 2-6, not 2-5, and his evening schedule was 6-10, not 5-10.)

  6. Adam Lawrence says:

    Wasn’t “prosecute the present study” supposed to be learning something new (a language, a skill, some higher mathematics)?

  7. Most interesting how Franklin combined joyfull discipline with regular self – exams and personal conscious positive fortification throughout his day.
    Such self-checking eliminates regret and guilt and instead resets resolve instead of doubting one’s abilities.
    It’s a lesson in positive thinking and discipline and direct personal accountability. No one else is involved in this…No one to blame or thank.
    Something not too evident in today’s contributors to the mix.

  8. The six hours sleep would kill me.

  9. Just gotta say….. obviously Franklin had someone else in the garden, getting his food, preparing his food, washing his clothes and dishes, cleaning the house, going to market, slaughtering his meat, etc. Probably he had ‘lower class’ servants who were probably female. I think Franklin was brilliant and his observations and learnings are extremely valuable. I think it is also important just to notice that he was in a position of privilege. Great things can be accomplished by great people who have ‘invisible’ supports in the background.

  10. Interesting article and experiment. I have to say I get tripped up at giving complements being the authors way of “doing good”. Honestly that seems rather trite. But the premise of the article itself is interesting and it would be interesting to read how different people interpret taking on Franklin’s schedule.

  11. Interesting article. Beyond Franklin, it underlies what all the bosses and icky motivational speakers have always told us: make plans; write them down.

    Word of the day: faze, as in “I was not fazed by it.” (not “phased.”)

  12. So by diversion is that prostitutes and debauchery because he was big into both? Or is that less of a daily and more of a weekly thing. Google Benjamin Franklin and the Hellfire Club for examples

  13. ‘Address Powerful Goodness’, eh? That has a fun ring to it, but ultimately 222 years is about 2 years too long for Americans to continue deifying the founding fathers. Study them, study them CLOSELY, but accept that they disagreed with each other and did plenty of particularly disagreeable things.

  14. Hmm…no family time. No sex!!

  15. I think this is a great idea and I admire Old Ben very much, but this schedule looks relaxing to me. Where is the the time spent taking care of someone else? How do you also schedule cooking, cleaning, nursing a baby, working a full time job, taking kids to piano lessons and helping them with homework?

  16. when does his 40 year Opium addiction fit in the schedule? 330pm?

  17. I see that this was for 1 day. Have you considered extending the length of the study time for this type of day shift? Say doing it for a week, and recording your findings over that time, then extending it to a month?

    I’m considering giving this a go, since it reminds me a bit of Darren Hardy’s morning/day schedule. I would love to see how this pans out over an extended period of time, since it’s been shown, time and time again, that radical change doesn’t usually happen within the span of a single day. That the effects are compounded over time. Perhaps this would change your life to an even greater degree, if done over the course of 21 days+.

    We need a wider recorded reference to look at ;)

  18. Great article! Just keep rockin’!

    However, something bugs my mind. Why only 8hrs of work?! I mean, this schedule is obviously for people who work from home (i.e. who are self-employed) and I wonder why only 8hrs?! We all can work for 10-12hrs per day easily!

    Tomorrow I will try this schedule out and I will report back on the results.

  19. Miss Kae Oz says:

    Ah, Ben. The man who wrote Poor Richards Almananac and gave us “Early to bed, early to rise” of which he did neither. He wwas quite adept at dispensing advice he fely above to take himself. Whores and booze was his path to success. Especially in his dealings with the French.

  20. I was not phased by it. Set phasers for dumb! You mean fazed.

  21. I am keen to try this now as well.

    Well as much as I can, given I will be tending to small children from 6am.

    I also think I’d need to go to bed by 9pm in order to get up at 5pm.

    By the way, it’s “fazed”, not “phased”, in this context.

  22. Marilyn Wise says:

    Keep in mind, he wrote this “schedule” looking back later in life. Don’t forget the 15-minute “air bath” in the morning (sitting naked in front of the window). You might prefer his French schedule, described by John Adams: sleep late, eat delicious meals prepared by his French chef, receive some visitors in the afternoon, then socialize with rich French ladies in their salons until late at night. Adams was appalled.

  23. This would be better without the douchey side comments.


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