Making the Five-Hour Rule Work for You

The Five-Hour Rule

What if you could develop better working habits in just five hours per week? That’s the premise behind the “five-hour rule.” Meant to help you increase your knowledge, acquire new skills and break the habit of performing tasks on autopilot, this practice could be the key to improved productivity.

Just One Hour Per Day

The five-hour rule is based on Benjamin Franklin’s habit of spending one hour per day, five days a week on personal education and skill development. He reportedly put aside time to read, write, ponder questions, set goals for continued achievement and develop and perform experiments. Through these practices, he was able to progress from a relatively uneducated young man to one of the greatest achievers in American history.

Franklin’s success stemmed from the deliberate way he pursued his daily learning. Instead of going through the motions of things he already knew, Franklin took the opportunity to apply new information to and exercise fresh skills in all areas of life.

Finding the Time

Unlike many business tips aimed at showing you how to wring the most out of every second of the day, Franklin’s “rule” suggests taking an hour normally spent on what you may think of as productive work and investing it in personal growth. You may reach the end of the day with a few tasks still left on your to-do list, but the long-term payoff is more than worth it.

The key is to schedule the hour into your day and use it to purposefully pursue a particular area to improve. One of the problems with getting used to your job is the tendency to chug along through the daily grind without thinking about what you’re doing. Adopting an attitude focused on learning re-trains your brain to look at every situation as a growth opportunity. Instead of simply performing a task, you’re able to identify areas for improvement and take steps to support better performance.

Five Steps to Increased Productivity

These steps can help you get the most out of this daily practice and put yourself on the path to better working:

  • Choose what you learn based on your own personal and business goals.
  • Engage in activities designed to support these goals, such as writing, reading, listening to lectures or attending classes.
  • Talk about what you’re learning with others who can help you get a better grasp of the subject or skill.
  • Practice new skills while at work and in everyday life.
  • Get feedback when implementing what you’ve learned.

Throughout the learning process, stay curious. Continue to ask questions, seek answers and experiment to broaden your horizons and become more proficient in all areas of life.

By adopting the five-hour rule, you set yourself up for continual learning. Instead of seeing your workday as a series of routine tasks to slog through or a to-do list to be completed, think of each job as a new chance to grow. When it comes to business tips, this one is worth taking time to try as it could help both yourself and your employees be healthier, happier and more productive.

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