The five-hour rule is the rule of successful people. Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Oprah are just a few names of successful and rich people who recognized the benefit of the five-hour rule. We are not here to say that solely this rule will make you the next Bill Gates but it’s a good place to start. What is it all about?
The rule is simple: take one hour out of each workday. From five working days, have one hour a day and five hours in total to devote this time to learning and practicing a new skill. This hour is the time when you are going to practice a skill, read and study about it. You will, of course, focus on a skill that you value or a skill that is needed for you to meet your goal to become advanced in your field.
What is behind the five-hour rule and why is it so successful? Working hard and long hours is not the same as working smart. Smart working includes taking some time off so you can learn instead of doing the same thing repeatedly, not realizing that you are doing it wrong. Learning will help you focus on self-improvement in the long run and it will have a significant impact on your success. For example, Bill Gates reads approximately 50 books a year. That’s amazing! Reading gives us consciously or unconsciously different approaches to things. It points to mistakes we’ve been making and that we were not aware of at all. Furthermore, it gives us ideas that are worth trying out. It expands our vision of what options we have.
If you want to be an expert in your field, you do need experience and figuring things out as you go, but you do need to learn as well. Marc Andreessen said in an interview about Mark Zuckerberg:
“I think skill acquisition, literally the acquisition of skills and how to do things, is just dramatically underrated…There’s a reason there are so many stories about Mark Zuckerberg. There aren’t that many Mark Zuckerbergs… The really great CEOs, if you spend time with them — you would find this to be true of Mark today or of any of the great CEOs of today or the past — they are really encyclopedic in their knowledge of how to run a company, and it’s very hard to just intuit all of that in your early 20s.”
How to spend those five hours a week? There are three different ways of how to spend five hours a week. Of course, you don’t have to focus only on these three options. Anything that would serve you to meet your goals works.
The first thing you can do is you can read. Not only Bill Gates, but Mark Cuban, billionaire entrepreneur David Rubenstein, Former President Obama, Oprah, Nike founder Phil Knight, and Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert are bookworms. Reading is the best place to start if you want to gain a new skill.
The second thing you can do is think. For some, this looks like a boring thing, like an hour of doing nothing. However, taking time to reflect can improve job performance. For example, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong makes the senior team of his company spend five hours per week thinking.
The third thing you can do is an experiment. To make sure something is working you need to try it, right? From Thomas Edison to Benjamin Franklin, experiments were the way of proving something will or will not work. Also, Microsoft and Google recognized experimenting as an important feature of working hours. Their employees have to spend a certain amount of time experimenting with their ideas.
Apply the five-hour rule to your life today and be persistent, results will come.