Definitive Guide To Using the 5-Hour Rule

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published October 18, 2021

Setting aside a certain amount of time each day consciously learning or practicing new skills can have a positive effect on your life and career. Regardless of your line of work, using the 5-hour rule allows you to expand your knowledge base and skill set. Being able to use the 5-hour rule to your advantage can be an important factor in your personal and professional development. In this article, we discuss what the 5-hour rule is, how it works, why you should use it and explain how to use it to improve your knowledge.

What is the 5-hour rule?

The 5-hour rule is the concept of spending at least one hour every workday consciously learning new things or practicing various activities. Doing so can help you gain new skills and knowledge, which can lead to both personal and professional development. It can also help you keep your knowledge on certain subjects up to date.

Related: The 80/20 Rule Explained and How To Use It (Plus Examples)

How does the 5-hour rule work?

The main premise of the 5-hour rule is that regardless of how successful or knowledgeable you are, spending at least five hours every week deliberately learning something new can have exponential long-term benefits. Most people who practice it divide the time into three separate categories:

  • Reading: Spending time every day reading can help you relax and grow your knowledge over time. Using that time as efficiently as possible typically requires you to have reading goals, which could refer to a certain number of chapters per day or books per month.

  • Reflecting: Reflecting is the practice of analyzing and processing information. Besides reflecting on various events at work or in your personal life, you can use your weekly five hours to read and then reflect on the information you acquired from the books.

  • Experimenting: Besides taking in and processing information, you can also use your five hours testing new ideas and theories. Putting your theoretical knowledge into practice can improve your creativity and help you innovate, so you can even use unsuccessful experiments as lessons on how to improve.

Related: How To Be More Productive

Why should you use the 5-hour rule?

Some of the main reasons using the 5-hour rule can be beneficial for your life and career are:

  • It helps you acquire new information: Spending time every day reading about subjects you're passionate about is likely to exponentially expand your knowledge as you constantly receive new information.

  • It helps you refresh existing information: Over time, people may forget what they once learned, so constantly reading about the subjects you want to learn about can keep that information fresh in your memory. Also, existing knowledge gradually becomes outdated over time thanks to new research, so spending time every day researching various topics can expose you to the latest developments in the fields that interest you.

  • It helps you develop your existing skills: Reading, reflecting on and experimenting with subjects that interest you can update and improve your existing skill set.

  • It helps you develop new skills: The constant intake of new information can enable you to gain new skills that you can then use for personal or professional development.

  • It helps you improve your learning speed: Constantly learning new things can help you develop your learning skills and over time you're likely to learn more within the same five hours every week.

  • It helps you discover new passions and hobbies: Besides expanding your skill set and knowledge base, taking time out of each day to learn, reflect or experiment can help you discover new things you're passionate about and that you enjoy doing.

  • It helps you improve your personal life: Being knowledgeable on a wide variety of subjects and having a diverse skill set can help you in conversations and enable you to become more confident.

Related: What Is Knowledge Management and Why Is It Important?

How to use the 5-hour rule

Consider following these steps to implement the 5-hour rule in your daily routine:

1. Decide on an appropriate time each day

You can start implementing the 5-hour rule by first determining which time of day is most appropriate for you to spend an hour learning, reflecting or experimenting. This can depend on your schedule, your peak productivity hours or any other factors that affect your schedule. Deciding on an exact time of day and making space in your schedule for these activities is the first step toward successfully using the 5-hour rule.

2. Find information sources

Besides books, there are several other sources of information that you can use to learn about the subjects you're interested in. Audiobooks are an efficient way to get information from a book while performing a repetitive activity, like driving, exercising or cleaning your house. You can also use other ways to learn besides reading, such as watching informational videos and listening to podcasts.

Related: 6 Learning Strategies To Apply in the Workplace

3. Find ways to reflect

Once you've taken time out of your day for reflection, the next step is deciding what to reflect on and how to do it. The most common approach is writing your thoughts and ideas in various forms, like essays or a journal. Alternatively, you can use online forums to share those ideas and receive feedback from others.

4. Explore a wide variety of topics

Learning about things that can help you grow professionally and personally implies discovering the topics that interest you and enable you to grow your skill set and knowledge base. You can use some of your five weekly hours to reflect on what you should learn and experiment with. Although it's generally advisable to spend most of your time during these five hours learning about the subjects that directly relate to your job, learning about completely new subjects can help expand your mind and expose you to new ideas.

5. Make sure you're consistent

The 5-hour rule can only deliver positive results if you practice consistently over a long period. This means you need the self-discipline to resist various opportunities to spend that time in different ways, which may not be as helpful for your long-term development. You can improve your odds of staying committed by setting short and long-term knowledge goals.

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