The 5-Hour Rule: What Is It and Why Will It Boost Your Career?

Updated 07/18/17

Setting aside time to spend on a task that's not on your immediate to-do list might seem impossible, but according to leaders like Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey, it might be the key to success. In an article for Medium, entrepreneur Michael Simmons explains that dedicating just one hour to learning something new can have a profound impact on your career, and is a tactic that some of the most successful people in the world swear by.

"Many of these leaders, despite being extremely busy, set aside at least an hour a day (or five hours a week) over their entire career for activities that could be classified as deliberate practice or learning," he says. "I call this phenomenon the 5-hour rule."

Simmons argues that dedicating time to learning a new skill is what sets successful leaders apart from their peers and says we should treat it like exercise. "Just as we have minimum recommended dosages of vitamins, steps per day, and aerobic exercise for leading a healthy life physically, we should be more rigorous about … the minimum doses of deliberate learning for leading a healthy life economically." After all, he says, "the long-term effects of not learning are just as insidious as the long-term effects of not having a healthy lifestyle."

Curious to implement the five-hour rule in your workweek? Here's how some of the top names in business spend one hour each day:

Read: Mark Zuckerberg reads at least one book every two weeks, while Oprah calls books her "pass to personal freedom.
Reflect: AOL CEO Tim Armstrong asks his team to spend four hours each week simply thinking. Taking the time to reflect on your work can provide the mental clarity to gain insights to inform your next move.
Experiment: Google allows employees to experiment with new projects for 20% of their work time.

Do you set aside time for deliberate learning? Tell us if it has impacted your career. 

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