Benjamin Franklin is one of the most celebrated figures in American history, renowned for his multifaceted contributions to science, literature, politics, and public service. He was a key figure in drafting the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, he made numerous discoveries and inventions, and authored numerous essays, articles, and scientific papers in his lifetime.

And the secret of this incredible productivity is partly thanks to his commitment to time blocking.

Franklin began his day with a morning question: “What good shall I do this day?” Then, from 5am to 8pm, every hour was accounted for, blocked out for specific tasks.

His mornings, from 5am to 7am, were reserved for personal growth: reading, reflection, and breakfast. By 8am, he was at work, diving deep into his projects. Midday had its own blocked-out time for reading and lunch, and the evenings were earmarked for supper, music, diversion, or conversation.

His time-blocked schedule wasn’t merely a list of tasks, but a structured guide that gave each of his pursuits – be it work, leisure, or personal growth – a designated space in his day. This not only ensured that he was productive but also that he was balanced.

With endless notifications, myriad responsibilities, and the blur of the fast-paced digital world, many of us feel overwhelmed. But here’s where we can take a leaf out of Franklin’s book:

By structuring our day into specific blocks of time, just as Franklin did, we can ensure that every activity, task, or break has its own spotlight moment.

Author and productivity expert Cal Newport also talks about time blocking in his book “Deep Work“, and emphasises the importance of setting aside larger blocks of time for focused, uninterrupted work. In particular, doing this helps us to:

  1. Protect against shallow work – this is work that might be necessary but isn’t mentally demanding, like checking emails or attending meetings.
  2. Reduce cognitive load – decision fatigue is real. When we’re always having to decide what to work on next, it depletes our cognitive resources. Time blocking, then, eliminates this need for repeated decision-making about what to tackle next.
  3. Stay accountable – By using time blocking, we lay out a specific plan for our day, designating when we’ll work on particular tasks and for how long. This creates a sense of accountability: we’ve committed to a task and there’s a specific window to complete it.

So, how can you implement time blocking in your own life?

Well, you might start by blocking out an hour for exercise, two hours for a work project, an hour for lunch with a friend, and so on. This way, you create a clear plan for your day.

Think of it like making a reservation at a restaurant. By booking a specific time for dinner, you ensure that you have a table waiting for you. Time blocking does the same for your daily tasks, providing a dedicated space for each one.

Remember, flexibility is key too. Life happens, and sometimes things don’t go as planned. So don’t stress if you need to shuffle things around. The main goal is to create a roadmap for your day that you can follow as closely as possible.

Quote of the Day

If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done. Make at least one definite move daily toward your goal.
Bruce Lee

Tool of the Day

📚 Readwise

Readwise essentially captures and stores all of your highlights from Kindle, Apple Books, Instapaper, podcast apps, and so on. Any time you highlight something, it will syncs to your Readwise database. One basic feature of Readwise is that it sends you an email every day with five of your highlights, chosen at random, which is a fun way of revisiting old books. But Readwise’s most powerful feature is that it can automatically export all of your highlights to note-taking apps like Notion or Roam. So if you’re a content creator and you’re trying to build an automated note-taking system, you can just chuck highlights from everywhere into Readwise and know they’ll arrive in your notes app of choice.