Benjamin Franklin's Virtues Week 7: Industry

This is the seventh in a series of articles about Benjamin Franklin's Virtues:


Lose no time. Be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

One thing has not changed since Benjamin Franklin’s day. People are easily distracted, and predisposed to waste time if given the opportunity. We’ve never in our history had more ways to waste time than today. We have more free time than ever. We have television, movies, handheld devices, computer games, Facebook, Twitter, vacations, concerts . . . there is no shortage of things we can do to entertain ourselves. And we do.

But it doesn’t stop people from complaining about the fact they never have enough time to do the things they want to accomplish in life. Benjamin Franklin’s answer to that? Don’t waste time. Focus on the things you want in life, and pay attention to how your spending your time.

Ben Franklin had a little schedule he carried around with him. It reminded him how he should be focusing his time. He set time aside for work. Time for meals. Time for recreational pursuits. And time for rest. He worked hard to make sure the time he wasted he kept at a minimum—and look at the things he accomplished in his life.

Another of America’s Founding Fathers well-known for his industriousness had this to say about it.

“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.”

~Thomas Jefferson

Spend some time this week thinking about where you waste your time—is it television? Facebook? Computer games? Give it up for a week and spend that time in pursuit of those goals you want to accomplish. See what can do in just a week, if you eliminate those frivolous distractions that occupy so much of your time.

This is one of a series of Wednesday postings that examine the 13 Virtues Benjamin Franklin believed necessary to achieve moral perfection.  You can find all the related articles by searching the blog under the “Franklin’s Virtues” label.

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