What good shall I do this day?

My Fancy Wallet
My Fancy Wallet

For about 4 years now I’ve been rocking the Hipster PDA.  I carry a stack of blank 3 by 5 index cards in my wallet (see the pic to the right on exactly how that works) and use them for to-do lists and discardable notes. I also cary a full-size hardback Moleskine for notes I intend to keep, though not necessarily for journaling. I typically only write jornal entries when I need to dig myself out of a rut. But I digress.

Benjamin Franklin's daily schedule
Benjamin Franklin's Daily Schedule

I recently started listening to Benjamin Franklin‘s autobiography. I admire Franklin and I’d like to imitate certain aspects of his character. One thing that really struck me was his outline for a perfect daily routine. He mentioned that he himself was terrible at sticking to the routine as he must “mix with the world” and “often receive people of business at their own hours”, but one idea I really liked was the first thing he had on the schedule: ask yourself “what good shall I do this day?”

This is basically the creation of a to-do list for the day. Big deal. I’ve been writing to-do lists constantly for 4 years. But what I really liked about this notion was the phrasing and the ritual. I typically write a to-do list only when I feel overwhelmed, to help add order to my life. But Franklin’s outlook is not “make a to-do list when you feel overwhelmed” it is, every day consider what good you will do. In addition he sugests every night evaluate the good you’ve done that day.

Small Moleskine Journal
Small Moleskine Journal

So, in an effort to be more like one of my role models, I’m moving my to-do list from index cards, that I quickly discard, to a more permanent small paperback Moleskine, that I’ll cary in my pocket. By keeping my daily to-dos together in a book, I’ll be able to flip back on previous days to find items I’ve forgotten about or neglected. And, at the beginning of everyday, instead of writing “to-do,” I will write “what good shall I do this day?” I hope that by writing this it will put me in the frame of mind to not only consider my daily minutiae, but also what I can do that is truly good.

3 thoughts on “What good shall I do this day?

  1. Inspiring post, Dusty. I’ve got a zillion things piling up on me and I need a better way to keep my “zen.” Love the simplicity – and purposefulness – of the whole system. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I also try to follow ol’ Ben’s suggestion. To do it (and not waste these shiny and expensive little Moleskines, which I save for drafting my coming productivity book… to appear some day 😉 I use my DIY origami (in fact, kirigami) pocket notebook. It is a small, 14 pages notebook, the size of a jeans’ small pocket. I carry it wherever I go, together with a small pen and my todo list for today (and yesterday). I also use it to write down quick (and short) idea sketches when I have nothing else to use.



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