The 5 hour rule used by Bill Gates


You just reach home after an exhausting working day. You are way too hungry. You grab something to eat and then sit in front of the TV, you realize after couple of hours that you’ve just binge-watched five episodes of Jessica Jones.  This is not a healthy habit at all and hence most successful people in the world spend their leisure time in learning. According to a research, it is found that they don’t watch TV rather they spend their time in reading. 63% people listen to audio books.



Productivity expert Choncé Maddox writes, “It’s no secret that successful people read.The average millionaire is said to read two or more books per month.” As such, she suggests everyone “read blogs, news sites, fiction and non-fiction during downtime so you can soak in more knowledge.” If you’re frequently on the go, listen to audio books or podcasts. Some might even thing that it’s difficult to find time to sit down and read. President Obama is far from the only leader to credit his success to reading. Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates,  Mark Cuban, Elon Musk,  Jack Ma, Warren Buffett, are all voracious readers.

So how do they find the time to read daily? They adhere to the five-hour rule.

The five-hour rule was coined by Michael Simmons, the founder of Empact. The concept behind this  is simple: Apart from their bust schedule, these successful people always  “set aside at least an hour a day (or five hours a week) over their entire career for activities that can be classified as deliberate practice or learning.” Simmons traces this phenomenon back to Ben Franklin. “Throughout Ben Franklin’s adult life, he consistently invested roughly an hour a day in deliberate learning. I call this Franklin’s five-hour rule: one hour a day on every weekday,” Simmons wrote.

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Franklin used to wake up early to read and writer. He also established his personal goals and have also tracked his results. In the spirit of today’s book clubs, he created a club for “like-minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community.” He even experimented with his new information and asked reflective questions every morning and evening.

Most important three buckets of the five-hour rule.

Successful leaders have embraced Franklin’s five-hour rule by breaking the rule into three buckets. It includes, read, reflect and experiment.

Read: Self-made millionaires those include Mark Cuban and Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, always utilize one and three hours daily to read. Elon Musk acquired knowledge on how to build rockets, which lead to SpaceX, just by reading. Apart from expanding your knowledge, Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba, says that “reading can give you a good head start; this is often what your peers cannot obtain. Compared to others, readers are more likely to know other industries” strategies and tactics.”

Even if you can’t commit to an hour or more of reading every day, start with 20 to 30 minutes. You can always have a book with you so when you are waiting for a meeting to start or in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, you can read rather than wasting  time on the smartphone. One can also try audio books during your daily commute or even when exercising.

Bill Gates

Reflect: Other times, the five-hour rule includes reflecting and thinking. This could be just staring at the wall or jotting down your thoughts. Jack Dorsey and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner are well-known thinkers, while entrepreneur Sara Blakely is a longtime journaler.

Experiment: The third and final bucket is rapid experimentation.  The reason experiments are so useful is because you have facts, not assumptions. Experiments show you what’s working. You can learn from your mistakes and obtain feedback from others. Best of all, experimentation isn’t that time-consuming.

When you make learning a habit, you’ll be more successful and productive in life. By investing in a reading habit, you can ensure you’re growing yourself  and your company  every day.

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