An Alternative to The Benjamin Franklin Schedule: The “Task Immersion” Schedule!

by J. Money - Published October 22, 2018

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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!

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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, 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.

Take care,
Jim

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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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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!)
  3. 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.
  4. You can arrange the days based on what *excites* you the most. Provided work schedules and responsibilities allow for it.
  5. 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!

ben franklin wink gif

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PS: For more ideas around productivity, check out and ‘s blogs – both great thought leaders and experimenters!

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bryan October 22, 2018 at 5:37 am

Good morning J,

I got up at 5am today.

:-)

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2 J. Money October 22, 2018 at 5:52 am

And already doing something productive with it, I see ;)

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3 Bryan October 22, 2018 at 6:06 am

Hahaha! You’re always my first stop.

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4 JD October 22, 2018 at 8:55 am

Sweet approach. Now I have to figure out how I can compress my full time job into 16 hours per week…

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5 J. Money October 22, 2018 at 11:30 am

Could also do this method on nights and weekends in clumps vs trying to do it all at all times :)

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6 Joe October 22, 2018 at 9:01 am

I never liked getting up that early, but I’m up at 5:45 am today. It’s no fun.
The Task Immersion sounds good if you can make it work. It probably doesn’t work for me, though. I have too many little tasks to do throughout the day. Too many interruptions.
Today I got – send kid to school, exercise, meet up with JD for lunch, pick up kid, go to rental to see about the broken stove, paint a bit at the rental, blog, cook, etc… Life is too busy and we don’t even have soccer or basketball practice today.

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7 Rounding the Bend October 22, 2018 at 9:20 am

Franklin’s autobiography is written in the form of a series of letters to his children. So it’s some wisdom from an older guy to the younger generation. The schedule isn’t the important thing. What’s important is building habits with purpose. He carried a little habit-building list in his pocket. He asked himself, what habits do I need to develop to help me become the person I want to become? He had a list of 13 virtues he wanted to attain.

It’s a great book to help people achieve FI. Students of FI also want to develop habits that help them reach long-term goals.

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8 J. Money October 22, 2018 at 11:34 am

Oh nice! I know of the 13 virtues but didn’t realize his autobiography was written for his children… Always heard he wasn’t actually in their lives much due to all his hustling/inventing/mingling… Perhaps this was his way of helping raise them?

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9 Rounding the Bend October 22, 2018 at 3:12 pm

It starts out, “Dear Son.” It’s written in the form of a series of letters to his children, but that was just a writing style. Franklin wrote it to be published as an autobiography. He was about 65 years old when he wrote it, and his children were all adults.

I do think that Franklin wrote it as advice for younger people, but not his actual children.

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10 J. Money October 23, 2018 at 7:01 am

Ahhh gotcha. Makes more sense.

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11 Mitchell Walker October 22, 2018 at 11:08 am

Good Morning J$,
The title of your blog this morning brought back to me a saying from my older brother from years ago. My apologizes to Ben Franklin. “Early to bed and early to rise, and your girlfriend goes out with all the other guys”.

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12 J. Money October 22, 2018 at 11:34 am

Haha… in college, yes :)

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13 B.C. Kowalski October 22, 2018 at 11:18 am

I think it’s always a good idea to look at the ideas of great people like Bennie Frank, but it’s also important to think about them in terms of your own life and how they might apply (or might not). A book I really liked about writing, Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott), not only influenced my writing (every writer should read this book); it influenced my way of handling tasks. The central anecdote in the book centers on her brother, who is overwhelmed with a school task to write about a dozen or so birds. Their father’s advice, just take one bird at a time, finish it, then worry about the rest. Eventually, you will get through this task.

Any time I’ve had an overwhelming amount of work, I think about that phrase, and find something to start with and do that until it’s complete. Then I choose something else, and do that. When I write longer pieces I use the same method. Just worry about one paragraph, then the next, and so on.

I’ve found this method works even better in my home office. Last week I was too sick to come to work but had too much to do to take a sick day, so I worked from home and my productivity, without being interrupted as happens in an office, went through the roof. I took what ordinarily would have taken me nine hours, and finished in five, with enough time for an afternoon nap. I relayed this to my boss a few days and secured permission to work from home sometimes.

Another of my favorite stories from an early writing teacher he shared: he learned one of his favorite writers used to rest in the dark on his bed for 15 minutes before he would write. So for three nights in a row, he would rest on his bed – and for three mornings in a row, he would wake up, eventually realizing this wasn’t the method for him.

I think writers learn quickly that what works in terms of productivity vary nearly as much as there are writers; so the moral of both this blog post and my post is that when it comes to productivity only through your own trial and error with methods you encounter can you truly learn what works for you.

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14 J. Money October 22, 2018 at 11:38 am

Very true too. So long as you’re actually testing strategies out and continually trying to improve! The worst is complaining all of the time but never experimenting… Which thankfully most of us who read blogs do not do :)

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15 Debora October 24, 2018 at 4:47 pm

I wish I could triple Like this.

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16 J. Money October 24, 2018 at 4:52 pm

:)

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17 Eric @ Flip n Finances October 22, 2018 at 3:15 pm

Awesome idea for a schedule that’s completely new to me! It seems this is perfect for you when you just don’t want to worry about something for at least a week. I like it.

I try to get all my homework done for one class in one sitting at a time. But, the homework just keeps getting piled up day after day for some reason and there’s no room to breathe until Christmas time :)

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18 Jon October 22, 2018 at 6:14 pm

I love it! This guy is on to something!

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19 Debora October 24, 2018 at 5:02 pm

Sheer brilliance. I’m trying to figure how to work it into my lack of routine.

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20 Gary Henrichsen October 22, 2018 at 8:18 pm

His plan would never have worked for me when I was at a real job. Life was too fragmented and filled with interruptions. But now his plan might work that I am retired. I have a lot of things on my list and working at them for a little bit each day sometimes makes me crazy. I was trying to get the house exterior painted before winter – ain’t gonna happen, but might have if I had just spent 8 (or 16) hours each week. The other BIG task is to keep up on financial tasks and I am not doing well in that area either. I also have church assignments that I do on a regular basis for just a few minutes to an hour or so each day, so that one is covered.

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21 J. Money October 23, 2018 at 7:03 am

Good thing you’re on finance blogs then and ready to soak things up :)

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22 Debora October 24, 2018 at 5:37 pm

I could have written this. I don’t have a daily schedule of things I must accomplish so I’m a free bird. Some days I accomplish tons. Other days I feel like a slug and accomplish nothing.

I’m wanting to remodel my house and there are times where I just don’t know where to start as everything needs updating. I have gotten some things done but I’m sure not happy as I could be.

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23 Kim Hanson October 24, 2018 at 12:57 pm

This was an awesome post! Thanks for sharing. I’m always looking for suggestions on how to be more productive. I’m self-employed so time is money.

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24 J. Money October 24, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Glad you liked! Let me know if you end up trying any part of it out! :)

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25 Danielle Ogilve October 27, 2018 at 8:11 am

This seems very doable except for the waking up early part! Would definitely love to try this out for a week though

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26 Ryan Worlds October 29, 2018 at 4:45 pm

Sounds a bit like extreme batching! Genius! Have any of you read “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” by Gary Keller? This is a game changer in productivity. Really great approach. Sort of “Eat That Frog” but on steroids!! Check it out.

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27 J. Money October 29, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Totally! I bought it last year but never made my way through it, only because I had read “” by Greg McKeown which is pretty close to it. But I hear people rave about The ONE Thing allll the time which is why I picked it up!

Here was my post around Essentialism btw if you’re interested in checking it out – really transformed my lifestyle last year:

http://beautyofbali.info/essentialism-book-review-life-changer/

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