Maybe you work hard day after day but never see any long-term improvement. You end up feeling trapped at your current level, unable to move forward or progress. You see friends and colleagues moving on and getting promoted and wonder what’s going on in your life.
If this sounds like you, then you need to start using the 5-hour rule. Followed by successful people around the world, including Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Mark Zuckerberg, this simple rule can help you transform from ordinary to successful.
Read on to find out exactly what the rule involves and how you can implement it in your own life.
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Spend 5 hours a week on deliberate learning
The 5-hour rule involves spending five hours a week, or one hour each working day focused on deliberate learning. This means setting aside time to give your full attention to learning and development, without getting distracted by other work. This learning can take different forms and a mix of these will give you the most well-rounded experience.
Reading is a habit of many highly successful people and is an easy and convenient way to learn. Try keeping a book in your bag at all times and setting yourself up with reading goals each week. You could aim to read a chapter a day or a certain number of books each month. The wide availability of eBooks makes reading on almost any topic possible wherever you are. Bill Gates is a famous advocate of reading and reads around 50 books each year, crediting it as one of the main ways that he learns.
Reflection is a key part of learning. Trying to consume too much information without reflecting on it can lead you to feel overwhelmed and prevents you from picking up new skills. It’s important that your reflection time is structured, or you could get distracted. Try keeping a journal, which will allow you to reflect on what you’ve learned through reading. It will also give you the chance to think about lessons you’ve recently learned during work and develop ideas you have for the future.
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Experimentation is essential if you want to progress in life. Set aside some time each week to test out new theories or ideas, no matter how crazy they are. Some of the most successful products in the world have come about as a result of experimentation. Innovation never comes from doing the same thing over and over. Even if your experiment fails, you’ll have learned valuable lessons.
Don’t confuse working with learning
It’s easy to confuse working with learning, and this is how you can end up feeling stuck. You might think that working for 40 hours a week should be enough for you to see improvement, but that’s rarely the case. While you’re focused on day-to-day problems, you’re not giving yourself time to develop and grow. The 5-hour rule is about deliberate learning, not about going to work every day and hoping you might learn something. Set yourself specific learning goals and give yourself time to achieve them, and you’ll see a vast amount of improvement.
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Focus on improvement, not just productivity
You might believe that the more productive you are, the more successful you’ll be. Productivity plays a role in success, but it’s nothing without lifelong learning. If you’re constantly focused on your current work, rather than on long-term self-improvement, you’ll never see much development. It can be hard to allow yourself five hours a week for learning that doesn’t come with an immediate reward, but you’ll thank yourself for it in the long run. Try to look beyond your daily paycheck and dedicate time to becoming the best possible version of yourself instead.
Take inspiration from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and spend 5-hours a week on deliberate learning. You’ll soon be light years ahead of your friends and colleagues, and well on your way to success.
This piece was first published in Life Hack.