Alright, for those who never liked the Benjamin Franklin “scheme” we’ve posted about over the years (wake up at 5 am, reflect, hustle, repeat), here’s an alternative that might suit your personality better:
The “Task Immersion” Schedule
This was sent over by a reader of this site who’s continually failed at other schedules tested, and after already two weeks implemented has been more motivated – and productive! – than ever. It won’t work for everyone depending on how you’re wired and your line of work, but check it out below and see if you can at least pull out some pieces from it that may be worth experimenting with.
When you find something that works you gotta run with it! This guy has been emailing me for over three years now and finally stumbled on his plan of attack!
Hi J Money:
I just wanted to update. I once again abandoned the Ben Franklin Schedule.
I was driving down the road to pick my son up from an event and I had a “eureka” moment, so to speak. I have spent decades trying to force a schedule on myself to no avail. The common denominator of all these schedules was to wake up early and peck away (at various times of the day) at each of life’s burdens. For instance, Ben would have us address Powerful Goodness each day as soon as we get up, work for a few hours, eat, work again, clean up your place, etc. You are chipping away at everything, every day.
My “eureka” moment included the realization that I just do not work that way. Instead, I tend to get very excited about ONE THING and want to throw myself into it. Thus, I have radically revised my schedule and have almost completed two weeks of it.
Here it is — (and results). Keep in mind that I am a college professor and teach a “live” class on Tuesdays and Thursdays only, but I thought it might be applicable to others who have flexible schedules (like you) and have a similar personality.
I call it my “Task Immersion” Schedule. The overarching goal is to complete a major task 100% each day and then not address it again for another week.
For ME it looks like this (it would vary by each individual’s basket of burdens and goals):
MONDAY — I can’t work (or relax) in a messy environment, so right out of the gate I need to clean the interior of the house (including baseboards, etc. The whole house needs to be completely spit-shined).
Result — Done. Week 1: I worked for 7.5 hours and the house is spotless. Week 2: I got more efficient (and less scrubbing needed to be done). I worked for 4.5 hours and the house was done. I used the remaining bit of time to trim the bushes outside, but I didn’t feel like I had to. I just got into the spirit of things.
TUESDAY — Get up early, go to work, and do not leave until all teaching-related activities are done. Inviolable Rule: I cannot bring anything from work home with me, ever.
Result — Got everything done and even got ahead of the game. Week 1: Worked solid in my office from 8:00-5:00 pm. Graded all papers and answered all emails. Did committee work that had been bugging me. Week 2: Did the same thing, but also started a research project. (I normally chit-chat in the office and surf the internet but I didn’t do it on either of these days. I was a working machine).
WEDNESDAY — The whole day is devoted to the (literally) endless amount of exterior work on the house (cleaning gutters, cleaning the pool, mowing the grass, etc.). If I ever get caught up on this, I will devote myself to spending the day outside rather than working or surfing the internet, etc.
Result — Week 1: I worked over 6 hours on exterior maintenance and got the situation under control (bushes, gutters, lawn, pool). Week 2: The power company lowered the lake that we live on. I spent the entire day (until dusk) trying to clear weeds and debris from our shoreline. Neither the week 1 or week 2 work would have ever gotten done had I not been excited about my new schedule. That is why the exterior of the house and landscaping was in such bad shape! I always used to THINK about doing these things, but it was very easy to put them off. I am really proud of my efforts and results here.
THURSDAY — Same as Tuesday, but focused on my research responsibilities. Again, absolutely no work is to ever be brought home.
Result — Week 1: I spent some time catching up on teaching responsibilities, but got moving on a research project as well. (This would have never happened if not for my new schedule zeal). Week 2: I wrote up and submitted a proposal for a new research project. This took me all day, but I would have never done this in dribs and drabs every day. Doing it all in one day probably cut the total time in dealing with this in half, at least. Plus, I guarantee you I’d still be sitting here today thinking, “I need to find time to do that proposal” if I hadn’t decided to schedule a whole day a week to work on research. This day devoted to research has the potential to be the biggest bonus so far in terms of my productivity.
FRIDAY — Powerful Goodness! This was my favorite part of the Ben Franklin schedule, but instead of starting each day off with a half an hour of bible study, I am going to dig deep into topics that are relevant to me and get to the bottom of each one.
Week 1: I tackled the subject of “what does the Bible say about worrying,” which is a big problem for me. I studied it for hours and tried to create a plan of action to implement to cure myself of this problem. I did not feel like I developed the perfect strategy, so I plan on sticking with this topic until I do. Week 2: To be determined.
SATURDAY — Family Fun Day. I plan and implement a family outing. (Inspired by your Adventure Tuesday blog post).
Week 1: We went to the county museum (which I loved), but my wife and son were bored. (Note: I did not even know we had this museum in town and I have lived here for 12 years — and it is a small town!!) We then went out to eat at a burger place (buy one get one free, plus kids eat free!). We all enjoyed the meal. We came back home and sat around talking and enjoying the view of the lake. Week 2: We will be going to museums in the big city in our area and then me and my son will play soccer together.
SUNDAY — Completely burrow in and do nothing day. There is to be no thought or regard to even considering doing anything else. I will go to church and then do whatever I feel like the rest of the day. I plan to surf the couch unfettered by concerns about all the things that need to be done because a) they are already done, and/or b) I have a full day planned in the near future in which to do them.
Week 1: I was able to do this without any problem. I had brought no work home, I did not check emails, etc. Week 2: To be determined.
So far, this schedule has worked extremely well for me. It fits my personality, and for that reason I am finding it strangely motivational. It feels good to spend each day getting something completely done and wiping it off my plate.
(Except for my research day — this will always be ongoing but I usually do nothing on this until the last minute. In fact, this schedule was actually motivated by my inability to do the research aspect of my job on a day-to-day basis. I always wait until the end of the year and then box up a bunch of papers and check myself into a beach condo for about 10 days and do a years worth of work in that time. My success in that intensive effort got me thinking about “immersing” myself into other tasks instead of pecking away at them. The result was this plan).
Anyway, since you introduced me to the Ben Franklin schedule I thought I would throw this one at you to try if Ben’s schedule starts to not work out for you. I love how you like to experiment with things so I thought you could at least appreciate this endeavor. I have never tried anything like this before but I have to say I am really excited about my results so far.
YES! Love! Thank you Jim! Way to find something that works for you :)
It’s always such a ray of hope when you stumble across stuff like this, isn’t it??
And I love this route for multiple reasons:
- It gives you complete FOCUS for the day. You know exactly what you have to get done that day, and exactly how much time you have to do it (24 hours).
- You get sufficient time to actually dive in and do a decent job on something. Instead of always rushing around and knocking stuff out last minute! (And oftentimes poorly, at that!)
- You get a week long break of thinking or worrying about things! One of the best rewards in my opinion, particularly for items you dread doing on the daily.
- You can arrange the days based on what *excites* you the most. Provided work schedules and responsibilities allow for it.
- And lastly, you actually get $hit done! Instead of always thinking and postponing things!
So I’m all about setting this up in your life if it matches your personality and you’re having trouble getting unstuck. Some of us are great at tackling multiple areas of our life every day, while others need the more dedicated time – and brain space – to really dive in and focus better! No right or wrong way to do it, but you gotta experiment around until you find the path that works best for YOU.
I personally found I work better “chunking things up” too, but only in 2-3 hour slots vs entire days as my A.D.D. won’t allow it ;) Fortunately this works well with my early B. Franklin wake ups though because I get a hearty slot first thing in the morning! So don’t be afraid to mix and match different parts of schedules together! We’re all unique snowflakes!
UPDATE: 12/2/2019 — Got a note from our friend here :)
Hi J Money!
I thought of you because I figured you would be getting up soon due to your ongoing Ben Franklin schedule. It is a real stark contrast to mine because I am just going to bed @ 4.am. due to my record 14 1/2 hour “task immersion” schedule. I just got finished with knocking out an incredible amount of work (grading projects for 3 large classes and answering a bunch of emails)!
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I am still immersin’. It has evolved from a regimented thing where I allocated a given day to a particular task. Now I just throw myself into whatever seems to be nagging at me the most. I still clean one day a week, but my “family fun” day never took root, as an example. I did want to tell you though, that I have really prospered with this plan. It works so well for ME. I am more productive at this point than I ever could have imagined.
A few fun facts:
1) There is definitely an “immersion contagion” of sorts that occurs when I am working in groups. For example, when I am on a committee for a semester I can usually get one or two members to immerse with me and get the whole thing done in a few days. Someone always seems to sense my feverish desire to get the whole thing done and will join me in a marathon immerse to the finish. I can’t explain this; it is just an observation.
2) I don’t know if it is true or not, but one of my student groups did a research project on Facebook. In their presentation they basically said that the founders of the company often did all night immersions to complete particular tasks and then had a party afterwards. This was how they organized their time. The founders of one of the most successful companies employed the task immersion schedule as their model! I felt better when I heard that. I don’t want to hear if this is false.
3) It is funny to watch my son, whom we home school. He is just like me. He is constantly trying to find the “best” schedule. He has settled into one that, while he refuses to call it by its name, seems strikingly similar to his dad’s task immersion schedule.
I need to hit the sack. I just thought of you because I just completed a record immerse and it hit me that you would be up in an hour addressing “Powerful Goodness.” To each his own! You have a great morning… I am going to bed! Tomorrow, I do nothing at all!