April 22

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin outlined his ideal day. It began with a few hours of study and reflection on his upcoming day, followed by work for several hours, a leisurely two-hour lunch, followed by more hours of work, and finally dinner and reflection on his day. This passage has often been quoted by gurus and productivity experts as an example of how everyone should approach daily planning.

Here’s a counterargument: How often do you think ol’ Ben Franklin actually experienced one of these “ideal days”?

Not often, most likely. They were probably few and far between. If he was able to follow this schedule, it was probably when he was younger and had fewer pressing responsibilities. Predictability is possible where certainty abounds, but in the face of uncertainty, it’s nearly impossible to bend your schedule to your will.

However—and this is key—you must have some predictability. You may not be able to control all your time, but you must control some of it. Simply knowing when you will have time to do your pressing work will go a long way toward releasing the pressure valve.

Don’t strive for ideal days, but ensure that you block some time to do your most important work. Or put another way:

Don’t aim for ideal days, but do carve some predictability into your schedule.

How can you protect the time you need today to do your important work?

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