The Five Hour Rule

Lean Creativity Edition

Yael Raden
February 05, 2021
5 min read

The Five Hour Rule

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go" -- Dr. Seuss

Dr. Suess like many others never underestimates the power of reading….but do we really understand how powerful reading can really be?

Try millions of dollars and great success. And this is why the world’s most successful people, like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Warren Buffet, and former President Obama find one hour a day to dedicate to reading. An hour a day can seem like a lot when we think about how busy our lives can get and how swamped we feel at work, but let’s be real if Obama can find the time, we can probably find it too.

This idea to spend one hour a day, or five hours a workweek was actually coined by Michael Simmons, founder of Empact, as undeviatingly, “The Five Hour Rule”. He says that regardless of how busy successful people are, they always set aside at least five hours a workweek dedicated to learning. Reading and Learning are a great investment because you are investing in yourself and the time you really have.

Read

It really begins with the best source for learning something new, a book. It can be any book honestly, but get into the habit of reading. It may be hard to start at 1 hour a day, but begin with 20-30 minutes a day. You can read every night before heading to bed (but make sure this book keeps your interest). The best practice to really create an impact is to use some of your wasteful time during your day to pick up reading. Waiting for buses, waiting for the doctor, those few minutes before every zoom meeting before the need to turn on your camera and look alive are all great times you can read. For me it's this; I am a big social media user, so when I go to check instagram for the second time in minutes I can easily count in my head, I choose the audiobook app on my phone instead. I am already on my second audiobook in just a couple of weeks.

Set Your Goal on Books

At 5 hours a day, successful people read about 48 books a year. List 15 books that you’ve always wanted to read or that you’ve been recommended but never got around to. Bill Gates reads one book a week and nonfiction is his choice of narrative. I work in marketing but have a degree in and love biology, so I wanted to continuously keep up to date and learn more. The current books I am reading are about all CRISPR, you know, that incredibly cool gene editing tool that’s changing cancer and disease research. So, those few minutes during my lag time that I am reading about crispr, I am becoming more analytical and confident in my understanding of a new knowledge.

Reflect

And it’s completely true, reading made me more analytical and it will make you as well. Being detail oriented and understanding nuances is a great skill and reading helps you acquire it. When reading a book, or listening to audio, highlight, take notes and most importantly reflect on it. Note taking isn’t always necessary but choose some books to annotate and leave others for just reading. You can try journaling as well. If you’re reading a historical nonfiction, sci-fi novel or a book about technology, journal a lesson that you picked up from the texts. That is how I do it. I keep a journal of what I am learning now from the book I am reading and that I have conditioned myself to always jot down a few notes whenever I come across a news article highlighting another biological breakthrough.

Experiment

This formula to successfully integrate the Five Hour Rule into your lifestyle is completed with experimentation. It starts with gaining knowledge given by authors, journalists, tech-writers and more through the medium of text but ends in you taking that knowledge and using it and however you’d like. You will find that even the reading comprehension skills you’ve gained can help your tasks at work. For me, I have become much quicker at pointing out the details and mistakes in the content creation at work increasing mine and my team’s productivity. It’s about putting knowledge to real use and making this cycle a habit.

The lesson is clear. Take inspiration from some of the most successful people of the world and take 5 hours a week on reading and learning something new, because in all regards it will make you more productive and it’s a habit that can always continue throughout your career and personal life.

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