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How Benjamin Franklin's daily schedule can make you more productive
How do great people get so much done? If you're Ben Franklin, you lay out a detailed schedule.
- Ben Franklin's success was driven not just by his genius and work ethic, but also by his schedule.
- Planning your day like Franklin can help you achieve more.
- Franklin also valued recreation and set up time for that.
Ben Franklin was an industrious man. In his 84 years, he found time to be a scientist, publisher, author, revolutionary, freemason, postmaster, governor, ambassador, political theorist, inventor, musician, and the leading citizen of Philadelphia.
While much of this can be attributed to his brilliance, talent without application is of little value. Nobody knew this better than Franklin, who inspired the book on the Protestant work ethic. To help organize his busy life and better live up to the virtue of order, he created a framework to structure his daily schedule around. It is included in his autobiography.
The first thing you might notice is that he woke up each day at 5. It seems like he really believed that “early to bed and early to rise" business. He then spent three hours getting ready for the day.
One part of this was to ask himself, “What good shall I do this day?" Not only did this refer to what work he needed to do and what he hoped to accomplish, but also to how he would live up to his virtue of the week.
He then turned to his morning rituals, which he listed as “rise, wash, and address Powerfull Goodness! Contrive day's business, and take the resolution of the day: prosecute the present study, and breakfast."
What does all this mean? It's too old-timey to understand.
“Powerfull Goodness!" was his term for God, so that bit means prayer. “Contrive day's business, and take the resolution of the day" means that he then drew up his daily schedule and determined how to carry out that good he dedicated himself to earlier that morning.
“Prosecute the present study" refers to his habit of dedicating time to studying something often unrelated to the rest of the work he had to do that day, like learning a new language.
The next part of his day was simply labeled “work." Lasting from 8 to 5, this section was split into three parts. The first section was a four-hour block. He then gave himself two hours for lunch, during which he would also “read, or overlook [his] accounts." Another four-hour work block followed this.
After quitting at five, the last five hours of his day were earmarked for time to “put things in their places. Supper. Music or diversion, or conversation. Examination of the day." This is where he would have placed his myriad social engagements and various hobbies. This also means that many of his achievements fell under the category of “diversion" for him.
He was also sure to ask himself “what good have I done to-day?" in reflection. He would make a note in his journal recording if he had succeeded or failed at living up to his virtue that day.
He then went to bed at 10 and tried to get seven hours of sleep.
Did he always follow this?
Like anybody else, Franklin often had good reasons for deviating from his schedule. In his autobiography, he lamented that his work as a newspaper publisher often required him to see other people when it best suited them, fouling up his system. He explained that:
“My scheme of Order gave me the most trouble; and I found that, tho' it might be practicable where a man's business was such as to leave him the disposition of his time, that of a journeyman printer, for instance, it was not possible to be exactly observed by a master, who must mix with the world, and often receive people of business at their own hours."
Of course, he felt that he was better for the attempt. He explains later on the same page:
"In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to Order; and now I am grown old, and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it. But, on the whole, tho' I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it."
Would keeping a schedule help me?
Studies show that people who are more disciplined are happier and get more done. Keeping a schedule is an excellent way to keep yourself on task. While making a schedule and sticking to it might not turn you into Ben Franklin, he would agree that the attempt at improvement is what really matters.
What can I learn from this?
The divisions in his work blocks show that he differentiated between work that required his utmost attention and work that could be done over lunch and saw fit to schedule accordingly. He dedicated time to work each day no matter what the work would be. This diligence undoubtedly helped him get the insane amount of things he accomplished done.
His labeling of the evening as a time for diversions or conversation shows that he understood the value of recreation. He also began each day with an intention and ended it by asking if he had done everything he needed to do.
Ben Franklin was a brilliant man, but brilliance without direction won't get very far. While his attempts to structure his days were often foiled, he thought that the effort made him a better person. His schedule is best suited to life two hundred years ago, but the ideas behind it are timeless and can help everybody better organize their lives.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
We’ve mapped a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way. Take the virtual tour here.
See the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
Astronomers have mapped about a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way, in the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.
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