- Benjamin Franklin left behind detailed writings about his typical daily routine, including specific times for reading, working, and tidying up his residence.
- His schedule varied over the years — as did his commitment to some of his own popular aphorisms.
- According to his fellow Founding Father John Adams, Franklin didn’t always follow his own advice in his later years.
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Benjamin Franklin was a true Renaissance man.
After getting his start in the printing business, he went on to establish himself as a leading writer and political thinker in the English colonies in North America; invent the lightning rod, bifocals, and swim fins; make a number of crucial scientific discoveries; and help draft the Declaration of Independence and secure his country’s freedom from England.
It’s definitely not a shock that he was pretty intentional about his time, according to his autobiography.
Here’s a breakdown of Franklin’s typical day.
You probably know the old cliche, which is popularly attributed to Franklin: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” According to his autobiography, the Founding Father did wake up early, rising at 5 a.m.
Every week, Franklin would pick a different virtue to focus on and note his failings on a special chart. In his autobiography, he wrote, “I was surprised to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish.”
Still, on an average day, Franklin wrote that he would “read or overlook my accounts, and dine” from noon to 2 p.m. This midday dinner was Franklin’s primary meal of the day. In terms of Franklin’s favorite foods, we do know that he wrote about his approval of potatoes, ginseng, maple syrup, corn, parmesan cheese, and turkey.
Franklin is popularly imagined as a somewhat portly, gout-ridden older man, but he was far more active and athletic in his youth. According to Real Clear Science, he kept in shape as a typesetter by “running up and down stairs with heavy trays of lead type” and foregoing alcohol in favor of water.
Of course, Franklin himself would admit that he didn’t always perfectly apply some of his popular wisdom to his own life.
Source: “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin“
Adams would agree. The two men worked together in Paris while attempting to convince the French monarchy to support their revolutionary cause. He got to witness his colleague’s daily behaviors up close, and he wasn’t always impressed.