What I Learned Working Like Benjamin Franklin For a Week

As many of you know, I’ve been following in the steps of Benjamin Franklin all week long in an effort to find a better, and more productive, schedule for myself.

I’ve heard time and again that the most successful people in life rise and reflect before the sun does, so I figured why not give it a shot myself and see if I magically get successful over night too? ;) Even though I hated myself the second I hit “publish” on that post, because who the hell wants to wake up at 5 a.m. every day????

Well, it turns out people like ME do. Rocking this schedule was by far THE BEST THING I’VE DONE ALL YEAR, haha… Not only did I rise and shine each and every day on time, but I actually started looking forward to these 5 a.m.s as the evenings approached. That was the biggest shock of it all!

Now I didn’t succeed in all parts of his scheme (and in some, I downright failed), but the early morning block was the challenge hardest to overcome and proved to be the most beneficial.

Here was his schedule again (along with my tweaks, since apparently good ol’ Benny didn’t do much in terms of his household and raising his kids), along with everything I learned in trying to mimic him. It was quite enlightening.

j money scheme

Here’s what I learned trying to copy him:

The stillness of the morning is so beautiful. Everyone gives credit to the sunrise, but the entire week I found the quietness of the dark to be much more fulfilling. I even caught myself saying “no no no!” when I noticed the sky starting to get lighter!

The early wake ups slowed down time and helped me appreciate life more. We get so caught up in the quickness and tasks of the day that before you know it your head hits the pillow to start the day all over again. With rising early (and spending time in thought vs tasks), it really helped slow down the day before the madness hit.

It was nice to set your own tone for the day instead of outside influences! Like a crying baby, or text messages, calls, a bombardment of emails on your phone (a habit I killed over a year ago, btw, for precisely that – losing control before you even get out of bed). To be able to start the day with a foundation of peace and happiness absolutely just fills your soul. As sappy as that sounds.

I wasn’t stressed at all. Other than fearing I’d sleep in and screw up my record! (I set two alarms just in case – one at 5:00 and one at 5:10 – which saved me 3 out of the 5 days :))

It felt like a “secret club.” That’s how my friend Nate put it after joining me for a few days, and I have to agree. Everyone is sleeping, including the sun, and you and a handful of hustlers out there are up pondering life and processing all that “powerful good stuff!” to get the day started right. Which I later found out meant “praying, btw, which was even better since I was starting to feel like a bad Christian having not one to church in quite some time since having kids!

My brain seemed to be able to soak stuff up more.  While I couldn’t quite sit there for 3 hours in reflection, I did learn and read more than I have in a long time. Like immersing myself in those 6 sources influencing our money, or when I stumbled across that whole Zero Waste Movement – a much more hardcore club! These were my favorites as they crossed over between personal time and then “work” time since I then had the need to share them with you ;)

It’s nice having 100% YOU time. Two-three hours to do whatever the hell you want! And more so if the inner-thought/praying stuff doesn’t happen to be your thing. I learned from others chiming in that they wake up early to sell stuff on eBay or work on other side hustles of theirs – other awesome ways to use your time :)

I was able to work a lot more efficiently. The interesting part about this schedule was that it didn’t actually give me any *more* hours in the day (in fact, it gave me less since I had to be in bed so early every night!), but the hours I did have were spent a lot more productively than normal. In effect I swapped out crappier hours worked at night with more focused and energetic ones during the day. It was kinda cool.

I didn’t care about work once the evening hit! I was so exhausted after being up so early and working so intently that I could have cared less about my projects after I shut down the computer. To some that might sound like he opposite of a good thing (looking at you, hustlers), but for all those who are self-employed, particularly in the online world (which never sleeps!), you’ll know how hard it is to turn off your brain sometimes. I love what I do, but over the years my projects have mixed with my social and “real” life making it all one big mash up now with no distinct lines. This schedule helped me define them more.

I had no trouble going to bed early. This was the 2nd biggest surprise of the experiment. I couldn’t fathom the idea of going to bed before 10 previous to this, but after said exhaustion I was out for the count between 9 and 10 every single night. Only once did I stay up “late” (10:45) to watch the Whitewalkers invade Game of Thrones (so freaky!!!!), and the next morning became the hardest of all days to wake up – oops.

Here’s what I wrote in my journal:

ben franklin schedule notes

(You’ll see that Monday – the one day I woke up early at 4:47! – is missing here because I typed my thoughts into the laptop that day and quickly realized it was distracting. I soon switched to a comfy chair for the first hour all other mornings and enjoyed my alone time much better :))

The downsides to this schedule / my failings

It wasn’t all peachy trying to follow this schedule for a week. These were the areas I failed in:

I wasn’t as good reflecting in the evenings as I was in the mornings. That’s why you see a random smattering of check marks and x boxes in my notes. I was great at setting the goals but not so much following up on them. My hope was to have each day end full circle, but I really only spent a handful of minutes – if that – every other night going over them. (Though many of the goals were accomplished by week’s end – like the feelings of being appreciative and content)

I only made “life” goals and not “work” ones. I had a to-do list each day, but that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. I wanted to brainstorm more and think bigger picture with my projects, but I kept enjoying focusing on myself that I never ended up getting to it :) I think this would change as the novelty wore off though and turned more into a happy medium.

I felt anxious not starting work right away (in the beginning). I’m so used to running right to the computer as soon as I have the time to do so, so those first few mornings were tough sitting there and reflecting instead. This got easier over the week though, and by the end of it I looked forward to the quality “me” time and soaked it up before eventually meandering over.

I didn’t spend as much time with my wife all week. The evenings are when we usually hang out and relax together after the kids go down (8-8:30ish), but since I was so exhausted and new I had to go to bed early I usually just read for a while for a while or watched an occasional show (like that Game of Thrones episode). Sometimes she joined me which was nice, but most days she continued on with her own schedule and that was the last I saw her ’til morning.

I couldn’t sit there for two hours reading and having lunch. I don’t know how Benny did it, but I was so rearing to go after having such a spark each morning (and taking a break to play/feed the kids) that I didn’t feel the need for such a long time to decompress. I didn’t last more than 45 minutes here, and most days it was only 20. Especially on those I took longer than normal walks (I never miss my walks!)

I didn’t do a single work out. My plan was to work out somewhere around 5 each day for 30 minutes or so, but not only was I starting to get incredibly tired, but I still found I hadn’t done everything I wanted to do yet work-wise. Since this new schedule didn’t give me any additional time – only *better* time. Though I did try and sneak in random push-ups here and there based on someone’s suggestion which felt good.

I didn’t focus on my finances as much as I wanted to. I had plans to figure out ways to shave off time to early retirement or to find hidden hacks laying around I hadn’t thought of before, but I got too caught up in thinking about life and learning new stuff that I never ended applying any time towards it. Outside of putting together last month’s net worth and trying to guestimate when we’d crack $500,000 :) (3 months?)

When all was said and done, I’d give myself the following grades:

  • Morning block: A+
  • Work period #1: A
  • Lunch: F
  • Work period #2: A
  • Evenings: C+ (great at going to bed early, not so much reflecting/spending time w/ wife)

Ben Franklin going forward…

As you can guess, I consider this test a pretty big success. I wasn’t able to check off all the areas I wish I could have hit, but having tried this for only a week I feel like I’d improve greatly over more time. Which is exactly what I’m going to do :)

The Ben Franklin schedule continues on, baby!

I had such a great time that there’s no way I’m stopping this now. I want to see how far I can push it and try to improve on all those areas mentioned above (minus the 2-hour lunches), while continuing to reflect and appreciate life more.

I seriously urge you to try it yourself too if you’re able to :) You don’t have to go hardcore @ 5 a.m., or even spend your time in reflection, but even waking just ONE hour before you normally do can help you boost your productivity. And at the very least feel less *stressed*. I doubt you’ll be saying “I don’t have the time” anymore after starting that.

I think the only people this wouldn’t help are those who party hard or already waking up at 5 ;) I’ve heard from a lot of you that have already nailed this habit and use the time incredibly well. Especially in the carrying out of side hustles and self-improvement.

Come join the no-longer “secret” club!

UPDATE: It’s now been three years and I’m still waking up early :)

PS: Interestingly enough, it turns out that Benjamin Franklin had trouble keeping up Benjamin Franklin’s schedule too. For “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.” He also had great issue with the “Put things in their places” part because he “had not been early accustomed to it, and, having an exceeding good memory, [he] was not so sensible of the inconvenience attending want of method.” I would just like to point out that I had no problem with that one at all ;)

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  1. Chris Muller August 10, 2015 at 5:19 AM

    Ahhhh we did it! One week of 5 AMs! I didn’t keep a journal, but I definitely got up at 5 every day. It got progressively easier, then Saturday I woke up way too early (like 6 AM) and Sunday I ended up sleeping in. I worried this would throw me off this morning (Monday) but it didn’t, I’m just a little more tired than usual.

    I’ve been setting the coffee and my alarm for 4:50, snooze for 10, then get up at 5. Seems to work.

    I also agree that it sucks to see the sun come up in the morning at times… you think get on this streak of productivity then BAM! the day really starts. I am trying to balance the wife time too — we hang at night and it’s tough when I fall asleep at 9:30, lol.

    Oh yeah, one thing that totally sucks… it’s too dark to get a bike ride in at 5 AM! That would have been great. I also wonder how hard it’s going to be when it’s 10 degrees and snowing outside – I never want to get out of bed in the winter.

    Great write up though, awesome you kept track of everything. I’m going to keep pushing this 5 AM wake up to see if I can stick with it, hope you can too.

    Great write up though, awesome you kept track of everything. I’m going to keep pushing this 5 AM wake up to see if I can stick with it, hope you can too.

    1. Chris Muller August 10, 2015 at 5:20 AM

      Looks like I wrote my last sentence 2x… I guess I’m not as awake as I thought?

      1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 6:34 AM

        Congrats bro! Smart about setting the alarm 10 mins BEFORE 5 instead of after like the dufus I am, haha…

        Yeah, was just thinking about winter time this morning actually. My body’s always cold anyways this early so love throwing on a hoodie and I imagine maybe even a scarf and hat come the real cold? Will be interesting to see for sure… You’ll need to get one of those lights on your bike to head out before the seasons change ;)

        (And I slept in alll weekend and it was amazing!! I didn’t want to break my streak but the wife said you need to take breaks so you don’t die and I’m glad I listened :))

  2. Mrs. Crackin' the Whip August 10, 2015 at 5:40 AM

    That’s awesome J Money! Going to bed at a decent hour is where I’m currently failing miserably. We are up and at it quite early as we have to be out of the house by 6:20 but lately I’ve been enjoying too many late nights hanging out with Mr. Crackin’. Awww sleep, that’s what I need to focus on…

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 6:35 AM

      Maybe you can do some good reflecting/hustling on your commute? If you drive you can get some inspirational audio books/podcasts too going :)

  3. Kirsten August 10, 2015 at 6:05 AM

    I get up between 3-4 am every day. I don’t even use an alarm clock; I just get up. Admittedly, I am in bed by 8 pm and sometimes I’m not loving my kids come 8:10 pm.

    I started this routine years ago, when I trained for marathons. I found that if I put the training off until the evening it was just too easy to skip. I carved out the first minutes of my day and made training a priority. I’m not sure I could ever make the first few minutes of my day “all” reflection. The most I do is while I wait for my coffee…

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 6:41 AM

      3-4?? Are you an alien? :)

  4. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank August 10, 2015 at 6:12 AM

    B Franklin is the right model we should go for. I am amazed with how he managed his time. I notice that it is really achievable we just have to find what works for us and stick to it religiously.

  5. MyMoneyDesign August 10, 2015 at 6:43 AM

    I too also feel like I’m a secret club waking up early to get stuff done! That’s the time I feel like I produce my best writing and am the most productive. Even on the weekends I still like getting up long before everyone else does so that I can concentrate on being creative.

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:09 AM

      I ended up sleeping in all weekend, but once my body adjusts fully to this new schedule I’d like to wake up at least an hour early myself then. I def. missed my morning ritual even though the sleep was awesome!

  6. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life August 10, 2015 at 7:32 AM

    The not spending time with my partner would really get to me too. My bf gets home from work at 11pm so by the time I account for a couple hours with him and my mandatory seven hours of sleep, I’m already way past 5 am. But I have done the early rise a few times and I agree about the stillness and clarity of the AM, so nice.

  7. Robin @ The Thrifty Peach August 10, 2015 at 7:39 AM

    I absolutely want to try it, but I’m so scared of day 1! Ugh. It would be the perfect time to try it though because my daughter starts school next week.

    1. Julie Gosnell August 10, 2015 at 8:06 AM

      Good luck. I think when your daughter goes back to school would be the perfect time to start. Seems that if you start out the school year with a schedule it will be easier to stick to it. Of course, I personally, and a cold turkey kind of person. :D Good luck.

    2. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:10 AM

      Just try it for 1 day and see what happens! And make sure to go to bed earlier the night before so it prepares you okay :) You can always ease into it and try 6 am first for a few days. Perfect timing for sure over there.

  8. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar August 10, 2015 at 8:02 AM

    Oh man does this hit home. I caught something yesterday and have a massive headache and head cold today. I feel like I’ve caught myself just staring at the computer a few times already. Blech. I slept in till 6 which I haven’t done on a work day in a long time. No workout and no eBay but gotta keep the body healthy! If I didn’t have a presentation to work on for tomorrow, I would have called in sick without a doubt.

    And couldn’t agree more about going to sleep early. My wife and I are generally in bed by 9-10 and I have NO trouble falling asleep.

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:11 AM

      Yuck – feel better man!

  9. Natalie @ Financegirl August 10, 2015 at 8:02 AM

    Great progress, J!! I love to hear all the success you’re having from this. I’m an early riser naturally and I can’t imagine doing it any other way! Looking forward to hearing how it continues.

  10. whiskey August 10, 2015 at 8:05 AM

    Good job. Now keep it up…
    Papa always, and I mean always, said “Daylights a burning. Get up and get busy.”

  11. Dee @ Color Me Frugal August 10, 2015 at 8:07 AM

    Awesome job! For years I got up at 5am to go the the gym. Now I can’t because of our daughter; my hubby works overnight and usually doesn’t get home until 7-8 am. Can’t leave her home alone! Now that I work out at a different time of day I don’t get up early anymore. But I agree, it was awesome to get a workout in before the sun was even up! If his schedule ever changes I will definitely be going back to that.

  12. Brian @ Debt Discipline August 10, 2015 at 8:10 AM

    Early wake up calls are the way to go, such a productive way to start each day. Just need to find that balance in the evening with your wife. What did you do on the weekend?

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:13 AM

      My wife got up with the kids and allowed me to sleep in :) Felt so weird getting so much rest, but I’ll admit I liked it! I have a bad habit of working most weekends too (though not nearly as much as work days) so trying to stop that part too. It’s hard reforming hustler ways!

  13. Jon @ Money Smart Guides August 10, 2015 at 8:17 AM

    Awesome to see how you fared doing this. I enjoy getting up early as well. Things are slow and quiet and I feel that I get so much more done. By the time my usual work day starts, I’m so far ahead of the game I either dial it back and take it easy for the day or I keep pushing ahead compounding the effect and getting even more done.

  14. Mrs. Budgets August 10, 2015 at 8:45 AM

    I consider staying up past 10 late as well. I already wake up at 5 but I’ve been trying to push this a little earlier actually, because I am most productive in the mornings. But something about the clock saying 4 I just can’t do it. Mr. Budgets and I also will randomly do push ups or lunges throughout the day when were not planning to go work out. Glad to see your Benjamin Franklin schedule did you well for the most part.

  15. Kalie August 10, 2015 at 8:53 AM

    Very fun experiment. Thanks for sharing what you learned! I used to love waking up before my baby and having a bit of quiet alone time. Then my 2nd child was a terrible sleeper for a year and a half and I’m just getting back to it. This is inspiring to make it a habit!

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:16 AM

      The exact reason I needed to get back on the ball here too! Our 2nd kid never slept for an entire year and totally messed up my schedule. Now he’s (knock on wood) sleeping through the night so figured it was a perfect time to try. No regrets! Even just pulling of ONE day a week would be worth it – give it a try :)

  16. Steve Miller August 10, 2015 at 8:58 AM

    Before I retired and was busy building my business, I normally got up around 5 a.m. I led a team of project managers and software engineers. I would work out first and get into the office by 7 a.m. I found that I accomplished more from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. before anyone else made it to the office. In fact, I probably accomplished more in those 2 hours than all day long.

    I haven’t used an alarm in about 30 years, I just have always been an early riser. Since I’ve retired (early at 50 yrs old), I still get up around 6 a.m. Habits are hard to break I guess.

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:17 AM

      i bet you’re filling your mornings now with a lot more fun than back then :)

  17. Michelle @fitnpoor August 10, 2015 at 9:03 AM

    I’ve been waiting for this post since I saw you were doing this!

    Every morning (around 3 or 4am), as I change my baby, I tell her, “Baby FNP, what adventures shall we go on today.” And then I start listing all the things we were going to do today and how they were new or different. At night, my husband and I both do reflections with her where we go through what was done and what wasn’t.

    For some reason, doing that at the super early morning hours got me excited and ready to go. It was like finding a purpose again. Hearing my husband review the day with her solidifies it.

    Long way of saying that reflection totally works.

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:17 AM

      Hooray! Fun with Baby FNP! They’re so cute, aren’t they? Even when they’re frustrating you? :)

  18. Tiffany A. August 10, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    Mad props… I haven’t voluntarily woken up at 5 AM in years! Looking back, I don’t know how I used to wake up early (back then around 6 or 6:30) in high school. Even now sometimes getting up at 8 is difficult. I do it, but I wake up tired.. I think I need to figure out a schedule that works for me (and I haven’t yet).

    The tough part is, my every day doesn’t look the same. Some nights I’m able to get to bed early, but some nights I’m up until midnight or later writing offers and working. I don’t mind it, but it can kind of screw with you.

    When I worked at Starbucks, I took the early shifts, because I liked getting almost a full day’s work in and be able to still have almost the whole day to myself.. so I’d wake up at 4:30, start work at 5 (10 minutes to get ready, 10 minutes to eat breakfast, 10 minutes drive ;), get off around 12 or 1, go for a run right after (the amount of caffeine and sugar I consumed was insane, had to work it off somehow) and then go home, eat lunch, and crash. I actually LOST weight even though I was eating like 2-3 pastries a day and consuming tons of caffeine. Probably not the healthiest.

    You are inspiring, J… Maybe I’ll give waking up earlier a try.. ease myself into it like the wuss I am :-)

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:20 AM

      Maybe try 6 am the first day and call it a win if you can pull it off, haha…

      I hear you on the 8 am wake ups though. When I went back through my old journal to see what the old me was writing in 4-5 years ago I found a page where I documented all my wake up times for two weeks. they were all in the 8:30-10:30 range with a smiley or a frown if I had hit my snooze button, haha… I COULDN’T EVEN WAKE UP AT 10 sometimes!

      If only I appreciated all that freedom back then :)

  19. Cheryl August 10, 2015 at 9:23 AM

    I used to get up at 5-5:30 a.m. All the time and loved it…..no alarm. I’m not sure what happened except my daughter and her family moved in and the house is ranch style and I don’t want to wake the kids, but I could do financial stuff, go for a walk or do laundry, plan dinner, get a start on work….. I think I just talked myself back into it! I’m a new follower by the way. It was the hilarious $1 per meal discussion via Pinterest.

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:22 AM

      hah! that was a good few days of meal talk… so extreme on both ends! :)

      I’m glad you’re liking the blog so far. Let me know if you end up giving the early mornings a shot again! You know you’ll love it! :)

  20. Mr. SSC August 10, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    We’re looking forward to the day our oldest won’t come in and wake us up at 5-5:30am, so we’re usually up by then. It would be a good challenge to try and adapt as much of the schedule philosophy as possible, but there’s no way I’ll get to try that full challenge until I’m done with work and “retired”. :)
    I do like the early morning quiet times even though I’m not a morning person. Much better than sunrise by far.
    Good job on making it the full 5 days!

  21. Jacquelyn August 10, 2015 at 9:33 AM

    Do you have dogs you have to battle? I love waking up early but we are watching a puppy that is a MAJOR whiner and don’t want to wake the lady…

    Maybe this is a lousy excuse but that is a major concern of mine haha

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:25 AM


      no, no dogs here but I do have to be super quiet as my baby sleeps in the next room over from where I’m able to work so I’m definitely paranoid the whole time :) it’s also why I can’t work out in the house – or even outside – because not only would it wake everyone up but even turning on the shower does!

      maybe until the puppy goes back home you can just read or think in bed or something for like an hour?

  22. C@thesingledollar August 10, 2015 at 9:36 AM

    So interestingly, this is kind of a monastic schedule; Franklin didn’t think much of Catholics so I wonder if he knew it :) Sometimes I go to monasteries on vacation/retreat and you get all those benefits for sure — waking up at 5-ish to go to church, early breakfast, work blocks on either side of lunch/more prayer, and after dinner more time to chat/play/recreate, followed by Compline (night prayer) and then silence/early bed. It’s a lovely way to live.

    I got up at 6:30 or 6:00 for three days and did great, but on the fourth day I was just exhausted and couldn’t focus, not sure why. So I went back to my normal 7:00-7:30 wakeup. I’m torn, because on the one hand I really like waking up naturally, no need for an alarm, and on the other, having that “extra” time in the mornings was lovely. I’m going to think more about this for sure. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:28 AM

      Interesting about the monastic stuff! Maybe you can get your body to naturally wake up earlier by going to bed earlier or something? :) Mine was getting up in the mid-late 4:00 region for half the week, of which once i stayed up and the other I accidentally fell back to sleep when I didn’t mean to. It would be cool to wake up naturally at 5 for sure – I guess that’s what happened with B.F. since there were no alarm clocks back then? (Or were there?)

  23. Jason @ Phroogal August 10, 2015 at 9:36 AM

    Successful people do tend to wake up early, don’t they? This is definitely a routine worth adopting.

  24. Kate @ Cashville Skyline August 10, 2015 at 9:54 AM

    Love this, J. Benjamin Franklin was a smart dude, and there’s certainly a lot we can learn from his day-to-day routine! I really love mornings. I love the stillness, the quiet, time for a proper breakfast, and time to reflect. I love starting my day slowly. Thanks for this reminder :)

  25. Ali @ Anything You Want August 10, 2015 at 9:55 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing how this worked for you. It is really interesting to hear that the morning aspect of the schedule was the post helpful. That is the part that speaks to me most, in part because much of the rest of my day is dictated by my job, which is not flexible. I have been thinking of getting up an extra hour early anyway, but I think this will give me the push I need to go for it!

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:29 AM

      GO FOR IT! You can do it – I promise!

  26. Connie @ Savvy With Saving August 10, 2015 at 10:03 AM

    Kudos to you for doing it for a whole week (successfully!). I’ve heard so many times how much more productive you can be when you wake up early. But I’ve been such a night owl my whole life. Bad habits are hard to break. Waking up by 7 is hard enough for me! I guess it just take some time, commitment, and coffee :)

  27. Kati August 10, 2015 at 10:07 AM

    I’m doing this… starting this week! I fell off the blog train last week so I’m late to the game. I get up at 6 each morning, but so do my kids. I would love some me time before they get up… so I’m setting my alarm now! And I LOVE the mornings, they are definitly my most productive times, and I just don’t get enough of them. Big changes this year – finished my thesis, finally was able to start our debt snowball a la Dave Ramsey instead of sinking or treading water, we’re buying a house, I’ve lost 35 lbs and landed a new job I absolutely love. I think joining Club Benny is going to just amplify these wins and give me more “oomph” to my day. So glad you’re keeping it up!!!
    (P.S.) as for exercise, I either run/jog with the kids in a stroller or bike trailer for ~half an hour in the mornings, and/or I do Shaun T’s Insanity MAx:30 workouts after they’ve gone to bed. I find that the variety keeps me going. Hence those 35 lbs, hello!
    (P.P.S.) My husband is a sheriff’s deputy, and our schedules never line up. His schedule is too crazy to explain, so I’ll just leave it at: we’ve found that lunch is our sacred time together on days he’s off, but it was hard to find that golden time. I know it’s important. Good luck finding the balance!

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:32 AM

      Club Benny – Yes! Haha… Welcome aboard! :) I want to hear about all the awesome stuff you do/think about later this week, okay? One hour of YOU time will be amazing. I’m really excited for you.

  28. Michelle August 10, 2015 at 10:10 AM

    Benjamin Franklin is the original Miracle Morning master!

  29. John @ Frugal Rules August 10, 2015 at 10:10 AM

    Nice work J$! It’s interesting to see some of the areas you did really well in and some of the others you would’ve liked to do better on. I was concerned when I left my job how my wife and I would manage time together and thankfully we’ve been able to get on a relatively similar work schedule – which has helped a lot. It’s funny, because prior to working for myself I hated getting up early, now I love it (we’re up by 5:00-5:15 at the latest) because it helps set the tone for the day and where I want to take it. I’ve also learned that if I want something to happen, then I need to schedule it. Otherwise, it has a much lower chance of happening.

  30. Tonya@Budget and the Beach August 10, 2015 at 10:12 AM

    Nice job J!! I tried the waking up at 5am before and realized it wasn’t for me, but, 6am has always been a good time for me so I decided to stick with my natural body rhythms. I did, however, start a morning meditation practice using Headspace (try the intro free take 10 series) and it’s made me start off my day WAY calmer because like you I was practically sprinting to the computer and thinking of all the million things I had/wanted to do. I’m also experimenting with other various holistic techniques to try and sleep better because for some reason, I’m still tossing and turning. I think just taking baby steps in trying to improve your life is always an awesome goal, and hope you keep up the stuff that’s working great for you!

    1. J. Money August 10, 2015 at 10:34 AM

      6 a.m. is just as magical! I rarely work up before 9 a.m. pre-kids, haha…

  31. Tawcan August 10, 2015 at 10:33 AM

    Very cool. I’ve to say, your hand writing is a lot better than me. :)

  32. Cait Flanders August 10, 2015 at 10:34 AM

    I woke up at 6am and knew this was the first post I wanted to read – so glad I did! It’s so awesome you had such a great experience (minus the few cons, which I think will work themselves out over time) and plan to continue. Back in the winter, I was waking up at 5-5:30am and going to bed around 9:30pm… I felt like an old lady at bedtime, but I was so much more productive in the morning – time to get back to it! I just set my alarm for 5am tomorrow, so I can spend the first two hours of my day working on that thing you’re going to harass me about on Friday… thanks for the extra push. :)

    PS – Guys’ chicken scratch always makes me laugh. (And I shared a scan of my writing today too! Haha!)

    1. J. Money August 12, 2015 at 3:47 PM

      Keep going Benjamina!!

      I’m working in a power nap now midday to help with afternoon crashes – it’s working!

  33. Kristy August 10, 2015 at 11:58 AM

    I’m glad you had a great experiment. 5 am is my alone time, as I call it and I love it. I do it on the weekends too! It all started 10 years ago when I had my first baby. I just really enjoy having a cup of coffee before the kids wake up. Nowadays, the kids sleep longer and I am able to have a cup of coffee, work out AND shower…all before anyone wakes up most of the time! I do try to stay up later once a week so my husband and I can hang out though.

  34. Heather @ Simply Save August 10, 2015 at 12:05 PM

    I’m a night owl, but I’ve known for a long time that getting up earlier would set a better tone for my day. I’m just standing in my own way of DOING IT! When I worked nights and would drive home at 6am, I’d see people in the secret club out and about it was eye-opening to see how much goes on when I’m usually still sleeping!

    1. J. Money August 12, 2015 at 3:49 PM

      haha… lots of people out in the “secret club!”

      1. ricky February 15, 2019 at 10:58 AM

        I would like to join the secret club now please, J-money you are a true american influencer and i look up to you I think alot about how i should be more like ben franklin. Love you


        1. J. Money February 15, 2019 at 4:15 PM

          Haha well, try out the morning routine firs and then see how you feel ;) But I’ll take a nice compliment any day – thanks!

  35. Maggie @ Northern Expenditure August 10, 2015 at 12:25 PM

    You may have inspired me to try it. But spending time with the spouse and exercising are definitely priorities I don’t want to give up on a 5AM wake up. (Plus, didn’t you just assume the lunch/reading = nap, because that’s what I assumed as soon as I saw the schedule. Ain’t no way I’d last without a lunchtime nap.)

    1. J. Money August 12, 2015 at 3:51 PM

      Hah – I didn’t assume that, but I am incorporating midday power naps in now! just for 20 mins though and half the time my brain is racing.. gonna try and make it a habit though because it feels great!

  36. Hannah August 10, 2015 at 12:29 PM

    I’m glad you’re loving the new schedule, but hopefully you can figure out some more time with your wife. After all, “Happy Wife, Happy Life” ;)

    I’m considering the 5AM wake up routine, but so far I’m 0 for 3! Ah well, tomorrow is a new day.

  37. Simple Is The New Green August 10, 2015 at 12:38 PM

    I tend to fall into the pattern of staying up late reading or working and then sleeping in. Like you said, it is hard to turn off my brain. I used to have to wake up at 5am everyday for a job and I couldn’t stand it, but maybe if it is ‘me time’, it will feel a little better. I think I might give this a shot if it will help me fall asleep easier!

    1. J. Money August 12, 2015 at 3:54 PM

      I think you’ll find it better too having “you” time vs “work” time like you used to. Much bigger difference :)

  38. Kayla August 10, 2015 at 12:58 PM

    I used to train for my marathons in the morning – the weekday training runs would see me waking up at 3-3:30 and my “sleeping in” would be 4:30. These days I continue to wake up at 4:30 or 5 and absolutely love it. The term “secret club” made me smile as that is exactly how it always felt to me. I live in Seattle now and love it, but a fairly big part of me misses small town Minnesota. But, going out for a run or walk at daybreak each day (for 6 months each year at least) and seeing the same faces each morning – well, I find that I get the best of both worlds.

  39. Jacob August 10, 2015 at 1:17 PM

    Man, that’s quite the accomplishment. If I roll out before 7am that’s called an “early day” haha

    And isn’t it funny, something about being all alone in the quiet hours (early or late) makes you realize that God is interested in YOUR life and wants to hear from you? Those are my best prayer times as well.

    I’m in a motivated kinda mood the last week or so, I wonder if I could make this work…..hmmmm….5am….

    1. J. Money August 12, 2015 at 3:50 PM

      I’ll text you if you need a wake up call? :) Err… text?

  40. mollyjade August 10, 2015 at 1:40 PM

    I’m not sure I could (or want to) get up at 5 AM, but I recently started getting up earlier so I could spend 15 minutes outside reading a book every morning. It’s made a huge difference in my life. I like being alone, and it’s hard to do that when other people are awake and demanding your time. And that morning sunshine is often my only outdoor time. The day goes much more smoothly when I do this.

  41. Fervent Finance August 10, 2015 at 2:11 PM

    I want to start waking up earlier. I started today with 5 minutes earlier than usual :) Have quite a ways to go to get to 5am!

  42. Kalen @ MoneyMiniBlog August 10, 2015 at 2:12 PM

    Awesome!! We try to get in bed by 10pm every night and, like you said, it’s not easy. When I can consistently get in bed early and wake up between 4-5, that’s when I’m the most productive. Sometimes sleep screws me over though.

  43. Even Steven August 10, 2015 at 2:27 PM

    That’s awesome getting into the 5 am club, reminds me a little of Michael Jordan’s breakfast club when he was winning titles. While you missed the lighting weights you were on point with the early mornings and getting things done. I also didn’t see anything about a personal chef cooking your breakfast, but like I said just like the MJ Breakfast Club!

    1. J. Money August 12, 2015 at 3:55 PM

      The chef is the same person as my boss – me :)

  44. Emily @ evolvingPF August 10, 2015 at 3:11 PM

    A couple weeks ago I moved from the east coast to the west coast, and although I did not maintain my EDT time zone completely, I am getting up 1-2 hours earlier (relatively) than I used to. I have definitely noticed an uptick in productivity and feeling at the end of the day like I really put in a lot of work. I also have been able to rest well in the evenings and at night because of that satisfaction. I’m definitely going to keep up my new schedule and perhaps push it even earlier!

  45. Adam @ AdamChudy.com August 10, 2015 at 3:35 PM

    Everybody is on the early morning bandwagon and meditation train these days. I need to step up my game and commit to trying it, at least to see what it’s all about.

  46. Ramona August 10, 2015 at 4:01 PM

    Right now my schedule is out of whack as well with kiddo around. I do try to work during the evenings, but I am tired and it’s difficult. Should try to get in bed earlier and maybe start some of my work before she wakes up. Once she does, it’s all ‘momma’ work :D

  47. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green August 10, 2015 at 4:29 PM

    Congrats on doing the Benjamin schedule and succeeding! Def an accomplishment! I’m not really overjoyed at the thought of waking up at 5am but I’m debating on at least keeping a regular wake/sleep schedule for the entire weekend including weekends. Sleeping in on the weekends is such a lovely luxury but it’s nice when I do get up early. Get so much done before noon! Especially Sunday morning because everyone else in the city is still asleep.

  48. Dividend Mantra August 10, 2015 at 5:56 PM


    Man, you lost me at 5 a.m. Major credit where it’s due, though. :)

    10:30 is about as early as I go, and that’s it. Being able to sleep in ranked very highly in regards to the reasons I initially started to chase after financial independence. As a night owl, I value my late evenings.

    But I think one can be very productive even if they’re not “on board” with the agrarian schedule from, well, Ben Franklin’s days. Working when you want and where you want means you don’t need to rise with the sun anymore. I pump out like 40 articles per month while also fitting in the 3x weekly workouts and everything else life has to offer, even though I get up right about the time McDonald’s stops serving breakfast. It can be done.

    Looking forward to seeing if there’s some permanent shift here. I’ll keep the nights on lock down over here, though. :)


    1. J. Money August 12, 2015 at 3:59 PM

      Gotta hustle the way that works best!

      Seems most of the good work gets done early morning or late at night. Each very dark and very quiet :)

  49. Free to Pursue August 10, 2015 at 6:33 PM

    That schedule’s how I survived my eMBA back in 1999 – 3:00 or 4:00am to 8:00 or 8:30pm. I assure you it was indeed a well-kept secret because that schedule afforded me Sunday afternoons/evenings off. I would have been tarred and feathered had I told my classmates of my free time!

    It gave me quite an edge, which made me resort back to it from time to time ever since. In fact, your experience makes me want to dust it off to get a project I’ve been waffling on into overdrive.

    1. J. Money August 12, 2015 at 4:00 PM

      I bet having a single focus in the morning would be even more beneficial! Especially if it’s a project that pulls at your heart! DOOOO IT!

  50. Lisa Hoashi August 11, 2015 at 4:17 AM

    I love this experiment! I notice how well you are at looking at what is working and what still needs work (like rating your lunches an “F”) — celebrating the good stuff, and tweaking what’s not working. I work as a life coach — and this is exactly the type of approach that I find is successful. I’d love to personally try this experiment but since I moved to Spain, even just keeping a normal American schedule has been a challenge. What would Ben think of eating dinner at 10PM!? I really miss the serenity of early mornings. However, here they really do know how to take a two-hour lunch. If you need more help with that, you might consider a vacation to Spain. :)

    1. J. Money August 12, 2015 at 4:01 PM

      SPAIN! Nice!

      I’m all about the siesta this week…. trying out 20 mins naps and going from there :)

  51. Kayla @ The Jenny Pincher August 11, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    I need to practice getting up earlier. Since I started working from home full-time I’ve kind of let that slip.

  52. Joe August 11, 2015 at 2:04 PM

    Wow, that’s crazy man. I don’t know if I can do that. Let me stay on the sideline and see how long you can keep this up. :)

  53. Becky August 11, 2015 at 4:45 PM

    If you think it’s difficult to get up by 5am, try waking up and driving 25 miles to be to work at 5am. It is pitch black year-round. Funny thing is, I chose this schedule (mostly so I could get off super early and have all afternoon to do whatever I want.

    On another note, I was reading a list of random facts and when I heard this one, I knew J. Money would find it interesting:

    The Dictionary of American Slang defines “happy cabbage” as money to be spent “on entertainment or other self-satisfying things.”

    The term “happy cabbage” just sounds so weird and funny. But I’d rather spend money paying off debt or saving than categorize too much as happy cabbage, lol.

    1. J. Money August 12, 2015 at 4:02 PM

      haha… oddly enough I came across “cabbage” too when looking for new terms to call $$$ :)

      I kinda wanna have a post titled “Happy Cabbage” now, haha… I like that!

  54. Melissa August 12, 2015 at 12:54 AM

    I’ve been doing the Benjamin challenge for the last few days (okay, since Monday) and it has been great! I’m getting some serious work done in the mornings and it’s making my evenings a lot less stressed. I wish I could get up earlier (I wake up at 5:30 and have about an hour to do my own thing), but 5:30 is the earliest I can do without being a complete zombie at my FT job :)

    Loved this challenge, J$! This is one I can actually do, haha. All the net worth ones make me sad!

    1. J. Money August 12, 2015 at 4:05 PM

      Awww, well GOOD! This will help you to GROW your net worth ones over time – no doubt about it :) Keep on going strong!

  55. diane @smartmoneysimplelife August 19, 2015 at 7:43 PM

    I reckon the big thing with this schedule is not the early rising (some of us do that anyway) but asking those ‘what…’ questions. It’s way to easy to just push through each and every day without pausing to reflect on what we’ve achieved and what we hoped to. It’s important to check every now and again that we’re still on the right path. I’m going to be making a point of doing that from now on.

    Thanks for sharing J$!

    1. J. Money August 21, 2015 at 10:11 AM

      Thanks for reading :)

      Today marks week #3 of every day early rises, and I’m still loving it as much – if not more – as before. It’s really that first 45 mins of being awake and reflecting that really sets the day. After that it’s nice to get a head start on work, but from that point it’s go-go-go and doesn’t slow down again until evening. So that first part is always the calmest/relaxing :)

  56. Darlene September 4, 2015 at 3:21 PM

    Great article!!! As you can guess as a personal trainer I am already getting up anywhere between 4am-6:30 everyday (Except sundays) HOWEVER, this article still helped me a lot. See, the reason why I get up so early is so that I CAN sit around for about an hour before I start my day. The difference is, that before this article I was feeling bad about doing that. I felt like I should get out of bed and feet hit the floor running. Instead I sit around, drink coffee, think about my day, get online (looking for inspiration) and eventually get moving. So after reading this I am changing my perspective on my morning routine as well as becoming more intentional about my “sitting around” like I’ll ise it to project something good for my day, come up with a positive affirmation, or read an awesome blog post on working towards financial freedom ;)
    You’ve done it again J! Thanks

    1. J. Money September 7, 2015 at 1:01 PM

      YES! There you go!!! Use this hour to learn and get motivated/excited to start the day! I love it… And once you hit financial freedom you’ll have 24 hours a day to do the same – hah.

  57. Danielle December 15, 2015 at 2:42 PM

    As a work-from-home-er (at least half the time) the idea of waking up early to spend more time at home used to weird me out. That said, I had an early morning wake up call a few weeks ago at 5:30 where I couldn’t go back to sleep and ended in inadvertently doing this and I LOVED IT. I’ve tried naturally replicating it but I can’t, I need to actually wake my ass up with alarms at 5am which means i wake my partner up at 5am too.. which he doesn’t like. I think I’ll do this when he’s on work trips because I noticed that I was more productive mid day than usual. Not sure how I’d do all the Ben Franklin stuff (nice to have all that free labour…) but the early part I definitely want to do more of.

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 1:02 PM

      Haha yeah… I literally have 3 alarms set just to make sure I don’t sleep in :) And I’ll often get up after the 3rd one if I stay up too late the night before! I haven’t been able to get back to sleeping early now that the habits have become “normal.”

  58. Eff You Money December 15, 2015 at 4:38 PM

    This is a fun idea, I may adopt it a bit. I think my biggest trouble would be going to bed early, but I have to remember I get that time back in the morning…when I’m hopefully more productive and relaxed.

    Since this is from August, I wonder, are you still doing this schedule?

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 1:03 PM

      Today marked work day #95 in a row waking up around 5am :) Some days I’ve accidentally slept in, and others I’ll wake up around 5:20 instead, but more or less I’ve kept the morning routine going ever since trying this out. Pretty miraculous for someone who used to sleep in until 11am at one point!

  59. Sharon December 16, 2015 at 11:38 AM

    J, I really like the idea of getting up earlier and having some thinking time. I like the idea of Meditation and Exercise for starting the day. I have been doing pretty well on the exercise and have lost 20 lbs in the last year and have gotten healthier in the process.

    The Meditation part has been much harder because my monkey brain does not want to settle down and starts creating even more to do lists than I had before and I gave up! So, I need to make a renewed effort on that!!

    I don’t have little children like you to care for but am caregiver for my 94 yr old Mom and that gets overwhelming at times, especially with a new business, so I know the Mediation will help. if anyone has any Meditation tips, I am all ears. Thank, J!

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 1:06 PM

      Agreed! I haven’t been able to sit still long enough to meditate myself (after about 20-30 mins of praying/thinking/reading I get the itch to walk over to the computer now), but I bet it would be pretty amazing to pull off if you can figure out how! I haven’t done so well on the exercising parts either like I thought I would eventually, but that’s next on my list to try and finagle… at least I’m still waking up early! :)

  60. Sharon December 16, 2015 at 11:46 AM

    Wait! You didn’t photo shop a Mohawk on Ben??

    1. J. Money December 21, 2015 at 12:59 PM

      Hah! I’ll do that on the 1-year anniversary of copying him ;)

  61. Marii September 15, 2016 at 1:36 PM

    I’m curious – what would you recommend for people who have shift work? That means some weeks I work from 8am til 4 pm, others 4pm til midnight…

    1. J. Money September 15, 2016 at 4:01 PM

      Waking up one hour before you normally do :) And then making sure to focus this time on YOU or things you love/want to accomplish.

      The time itself isn’t that important, it’s the habit of waking up earlier and setting the tone for the day. Otherwise it’s just rush-rush-rush as always!

  62. Dave February 18, 2021 at 6:30 AM

    This was great! I completely agree that being up this early is like being part of a secret club. And I’m right with you about being a little disappointed when the sky starts to brighten. It’s amazing how much more productive I am in the morning compared to any other time in the day. I’m not sure if it’s just that I’m most awake at that point, or that I have so many fewer distractions and so much less interference compared to later in the day.

    Have you ever attempted his plan for moral perfection based on the 13 virtues from his autobiography? I have my students attempt it in class each year, and it’s a pretty fascinating exercise. He had his faults for sure, but how consistently he worked to improve himself and the lives of those around him is pretty admirable.

    1. J. Money February 18, 2021 at 8:34 AM

      I have not but now my interest is piqued!!

      Love that you task your students with this, haha…