- Be Bill Gates and Warren Buffett: If you’re not spending 5 hours per week learning, you’re being irresponsible
- Knowledge is the new money
- 6 essentials skills to master the new knowledge economy
- Start your learning ritual today with these three steps
- The 5-Hour Rule That Turns Ordinary People Into Successful Ones
- What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?
- The Biology
- The Psychology
- What Can You Do To Change a Habit?
- 1. Identify Your Habits
- 2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit
- 3. Apply Logic
- 4. Choose an Alternative
- 5. Remove Triggers
- 6. Visualize Change
- 7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking
- Final Thoughts
- More About Changing Habits
- Why you should spend 5 hours a week on intentional learning
- Spend 5 Hours a Week on Intentional Learning
- Focus on improvement, not just productivity
- 1. We forgot our place in the natural world:
- 2. We forgot our connection to life and the cosmos:
- 3. We forgot our ancient wisdom:
- 4. We forgot our path and our dreams:
- 6. We forgot that everything is Love:
- 7. We forgot to Forgive:
- 8. We forgot to be Free:
- 9. We forgot our real power:
- 10. We forgot our lessons from history:
- 12. We forgot to trust, believe and wonder:
- Why Constant Learners All Embrace the 5-Hour Rule
- The five-hour rule
- The core concept of the five-hour rule: empty space
- The difference the five-hour rule makes
- So, are you ready to embrace the five-hour rule?
Be Bill Gates and Warren Buffett: If you’re not spending 5 hours per week learning, you’re being irresponsible
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none. Zero.” — Charlie Munger, Self-made billionaire & Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner
Why did the busiest person in the world, former president Barack Obama, read an hour a day while in office?
Why has the best investor in history, Warren Buffett, invested 80% of his time in reading and thinking throughout his career?
Why has the world’s richest person, Bill Gates, read a book a week during his career? And why has he taken a yearly two-week reading vacation throughout his entire career?
Why do the world’s smartest and busiest people find one hour a day for deliberate learning (the 5-hour rule), while others make excuses about how busy they are?
What do they see that others don’t?
The answer is simple: Learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. Or as Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
This insight is fundamental to succeeding in our knowledge economy, yet few people realize it. Luckily, once you do understand the value of knowledge, it’s simple to get more of it. Just dedicate yourself to constant learning.
Knowledge is the new money
“Intellectual capital will always trump financial capital.” — Paul Tudor Jones, self-made billionaire entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist
We spend our lives collecting, spending, lusting after, and worrying about money — in fact, when we say we “don’t have time” to learn something new, it’s usually because we are feverishly devoting our time to earning money, but something is happening right now that’s changing the relationship between money and knowledge.
We are at the beginning of a period of what renowned futurist Peter Diamandis calls rapid demonetization, in which technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper — or even free.
This chart from Diamandis’ book Abundance shows how we’ve demonetized $900,000 worth of products and services you might have purchased between 1969 and 1989.
This demonetization will accelerate in the future. Automated vehicle fleets will eliminate one of our biggest purchases: A car.
Virtual reality will make expensive experiences, such as going to a concert or playing golf, instantly available at much lower cost.
While the difference between reality and virtual reality is almost incomparable at the moment, the rate of improvement of VR is exponential.
While education and health care costs have risen, innovation in these fields will ly lead to eventual demonetization as well.
Many higher educational institutions, for example, have legacy costs to support multiple layers of hierarchy and to upkeep their campuses.
Newer institutions are finding ways to dramatically lower costs by offering their services exclusively online, focusing only on training for in-demand, high-paying skills, or having employers who recruit students subsidize the cost of tuition.
Finally, new devices and technologies, such as CRISPR, the XPrize Tricorder, better diagnostics via artificial intelligence, and reduced cost of genomic sequencing will revolutionize the healthcare system. These technologies and other ones them will dramatically lower the average cost of healthcare by focusing on prevention rather than cure and management.
While goods and services are becoming demonetized, knowledge is becoming increasingly valuable.
Perhaps the best example of the rising value of certain forms of knowledge is the self-driving car industry.
Sebastian Thrun, founder of Google X and Google’s self-driving car team, gives the example of Uber paying $700 million for Otto, a six-month-old company with 70 employees, and of GM spending $1 billion on their acquisition of Cruise. He concludes that in this industry, “The going rate for talent these days is $10 million.”
That’s $10 million per skilled worker, and while that’s the most stunning example, it’s not just true for incredibly rare and lucrative technical skills. People who identify skills needed for future jobs — e.g., data analyst, product designer, physical therapist — and quickly learn them are poised to win.
Those who work really hard throughout their career but don’t take time their schedule to constantly learn will be the new “at-risk” group. They risk remaining stuck on the bottom rung of global competition, and they risk losing their jobs to automation, just as blue-collar workers did between 2000 and 2010 when robots replaced 85 percent of manufacturing jobs.
People at the bottom of the economic ladder are being squeezed more and compensated less, while those at the top have more opportunities and are paid more than ever before. The irony is that the problem isn’t a lack of jobs. Rather, it’s a lack of people with the right skills and knowledge to fill the jobs.
An Atlantic article captures the paradox: “Employers across industries and regions have complained for years about a lack of skilled workers, and their complaints are borne out in US employment data.
In July , the number of job postings reached its highest level ever, at 5.8 million, and the unemployment rate was comfortably below the post-World War II average.
But, at the same time, over 17 million Americans are either unemployed, not working but interested in finding work, or doing part-time work but aspiring to full-time work.”
In short, we can see how at a fundamental level knowledge is gradually becoming its own important and unique form of currency. In other words, knowledge is the new money. Similar to money, knowledge often serves as a medium of exchange and store of value.
But, un money, when you use knowledge or give it away, you don’t lose it. Transferring knowledge anywhere in the world is free and instant. Its value compounds over time faster than money. It can be converted into many things, including things that money can’t buy, such as authentic relationships and high levels of subjective well-being.
It helps you accomplish your goals faster and better. It’s fun to acquire. It makes your brain work better. It expands your vocabulary, making you a better communicator. It helps you think bigger and beyond your circumstances.
It puts your life in perspective by essentially helping you live many lives in one life through other people’s experiences and wisdom.
Former president Obama perfectly explains why he was so committed to reading during his presidency in a recent New York Times interview (paywall): “At a time when events move so quickly and so much information is transmitted,” he said, reading gave him the ability to occasionally “slow down and get perspective” and “the ability to get in somebody else’s shoes.” These two things, he added, “have been invaluable to me. Whether they’ve made me a better president I can’t say. But what I can say is that they have allowed me to sort of maintain my balance during the course of eight years, because this is a place that comes at you hard and fast and doesn’t let up.”
6 essentials skills to master the new knowledge economy
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler
So, how do we learn the right knowledge and have it pay off for us? The six points below serve as a framework to help you begin to answer this question. I also created an in-depth webinar on Learning How To Learn that you can watch for free.
- Identify valuable knowledge at the right time. The value of knowledge isn’t static. It changes as a function of how valuable other people consider it and how rare it is. As new technologies mature and reshape industries, there is often a deficit of people with the needed skills, which creates the potential for high compensation. Because of the high compensation, more people are quickly trained, and the average compensation decreases.
- Learn and master that knowledge quickly. Opportunity windows are temporary in nature. Individuals must take advantage of them when they see them. This means being able to learn new skills quickly. After reading thousands of books, I’ve found that understanding and using mental models is one of the most universal skills that everyone should learn. It provides a strong foundation of knowledge that applies across every field. So when you jump into a new field, you have preexisting knowledge you can use to learn faster.
- Communicate the value of your skills to others. People with the same skills can command wildly different salaries and fees how well they’re able to communicate and persuade others. This ability convinces others that the skills you have are valuable is a “multiplier skill.” Many people spend years mastering an underlying technical skill and virtually no time mastering this multiplier skill.
- Convert knowledge into money and results. There are many ways to transform knowledge into value in your life. A few examples include finding and getting a job that pays well, getting a raise, building a successful business, selling your knowledge as a consultant, and building your reputation by becoming a thought leader.
- Learn how to financially invest in learning to get the highest return.Each of us needs to find the right “portfolio” of books, online courses, and certificate/degree programs to help us achieve our goals within our budget. To get the right portfolio, we need to apply financial terms — such as return on investment, risk management, hurdle rate, hedging, and diversification — to our thinking on knowledge investment.
- Master the skill of learning how to learn. Doing so exponentially increases the value of every hour we devote to learning (our learning rate). Our learning rate determines how quickly our knowledge compounds over time. Consider someone who reads and retains one book a week versus someone who takes 10 days to read a book. Over the course of a year, a 30% difference compounds to one person reading 85 more books.
To shift our focus from being overly obsessed with money to a more savvy and realistic quest for knowledge, we need to stop thinking that we only acquire knowledge from 5 to 22 years old, and that then we can get a job and mentally coast through the rest of our lives if we work hard. To survive and thrive in this new era, we must constantly learn.
Working hard is the industrial era approach to getting ahead. Learning hard is the knowledge economy equivalent.
Just as we have minimum recommended dosages of vitamins, steps per day, and minutes of aerobic exercise for maintaining physical health, we need to be rigorous about the minimum dose of deliberate learning that will maintain our economic health.
The long-term effects of intellectual complacency are just as insidious as the long-term effects of not exercising, eating well, or sleeping enough.
Not learning at least 5 hours per week (the 5-hour rule) is the smoking of the 21st century and this article is the warning label.
Don’t be lazy. Don’t make excuses. Just get it done.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Before his daughter was born, successful entrepreneur Ben Clarke focused on deliberate learning every day from 6:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. for five years (2,000+ hours), but when his daughter was born, he decided to replace his learning time with daddy-daughter time. This is the point at which most people would give up on their learning ritual.
Instead of doing that, Ben decided to change his daily work schedule. He shortened the number of hours he worked on his to do list in order to make room for his learning ritual. Keep in mind that Ben oversees over 200 employees at his company, The Shipyard, and is always busy.
In his words, “by working less and learning more, I might seem to get less done in a day, but I get dramatically more done in my year and in my career.” This wasn’t an easy decision by any means, but it reflects the type of difficult decisions that we all need to start making.
Even if you’re just an entry-level employee, there’s no excuse. You can find mini learning periods during your downtimes (commutes, lunch breaks, slow times). Even 15 minutes per day will add up to nearly 100 hours over a year. Time and energy should not be excuses. Rather, they are difficult, but doable challenges.
By being one of the few people who rises to this challenge, you reap that much more in reward.
We often believe we can’t afford the time it takes, but the opposite is true: None of us can afford not to learn.
Learning is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity.
Start your learning ritual today with these three steps
The busiest, most successful people in the world find at least an hour to learn everyday. So can you!
Just three steps are needed to create your own learning ritual:
- Find the time for reading and learning even if you are really busy and overwhelmed.
- Stay consistent on using that “found” time without procrastinating or falling prey to distraction.
- Increase the results you receive from each hour of learning by using proven hacks that help you remember and apply what you learn.
Over the last three years, I’ve researched how top performers find the time, stay consistent, and get more results. There was too much information for one article, so I spent dozens of hours and created a free masterclass to help you master your learning ritual too!
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The 5-Hour Rule That Turns Ordinary People Into Successful Ones
Last Updated on March 25, 2020
Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.
However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.
Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.
Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.
Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.
In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.
What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?
To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior. Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get .
Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.
Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.
The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.
A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.
Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.
So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.
Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.
Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.
Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.
Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.
Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.
Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality. A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.
Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit. By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.
Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.
What Can You Do To Change a Habit?
Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.
Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:
1. Identify Your Habits
As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.
2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit
Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?
It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.
3. Apply Logic
You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.
Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.
4. Choose an Alternative
As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.
Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.
5. Remove Triggers
Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.
Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.
6. Visualize Change
Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.
For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.
7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking
Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.
Believe you can get it and assert yourself the same.
Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!
Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.
More About Changing Habits
Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com
Why you should spend 5 hours a week on intentional learning
You try hard ever day, but never see any long-term improvement. You feel trapped where you are, unable to move forward or progress. You see other people moving on and improving in all aspects of their life, and wonder what’s different about you.
Read on to find out exactly what this rule is and how you can implement it in your life.
Spend 5 Hours a Week on Intentional Learning
The 5-hour rule involves spending at least 5 hours a week on deliberate learning. This means setting aside time to give your full concentrated attention on learning and development. You could do this for one hour a day, or however long you want, as long as you spend at least 5 hours a week.
This learning can take a few different forms. Below we go over what type of learning you can use to implement this rule.
Reading is a habit that is crucial to gaining new knowledge. It’s easy, enjoyable (depending on what you’re reading!) and a convenient way to learn.
Try keeping a book in your bag at all times and setting yourself reading goals each week. You could aim to read a certain number of pages a day or a certain number of books a month.
The wide amount of eBooks on every single topic you can dream about makes learning about almost any subject quite easy. Bill Gates is someone who reads avidly, and credits it as one of the main ways he learns.
This is a key part of learning that is often forgotten about. Consuming too much information in a short period can leave you feeling overwhelmed. It’s important that you have reflection time sorted.
A great way to do this is to keep a journal and write about what you’re learning. This will help clear your mind and properly structure the information you’ve learned.
This is perhaps most important if you want to progress in life. Set aside some time each week to test our new theories or ideas, no matter how crazy they are.
Innovation and learning never comes from doing the same thing over and over. Even if what you’re trying fails, you will have learned some valuable lessons.
It’s easy to confuse working with learning, which can cause you to remain stuck. Just because you’re working 40 hours a week doesn’t automatically mean you’re improving.
The 5 hour rule works because it is all about intentional learning, rather than going to work and assuming you’re going to learn something. Set yourself specific goals and you give yourself time to achieve them.
Focus on improvement, not just productivity
Most people believe that the more productive they are, the more they’ll see improvement. But this isn’t necessarily the case.
If you’re constantly focused on your current work, you might do a good job, but you’ll never see long-term improvement.
The reason most people don’t see long term progression is because setting aside time to learn doesn’t offer any immediate benefit. Try looking beyond your daily paycheck and dedicate time to become the best possible version of yourself instead.
If you take inspiration from some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, and spend 5 hours a week learning something new, you’ll start to see dramatic improvement in your life.
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The more I ponder about life, the more I come to one solid realisation: The biggest curse and predicament of modern Man is forgetfulness. a creeping malaise, forgetfulness has seeped through all of Man’s being and doing. Individually, collectively, historically or culturally, we are spellbound to forget.
We haven’t only forgot our past but also our place in the present and our responsibility of the future.
On a personal level, our ego-based state of consciousness is on a mission to keep us in this state of forgetfulness – to break the link to our being as a whole and to the interconnected web of life and universal consciousness.
On a collective level, this forgetfulness is perpetuated and reinforced by social and cultural means – mainly by being tranced into a reality of unconscious consumerism, inauthentic lifestyles and a materialistic mindset.
The brighter side of it is that we all have the chance to re-member and re-connect to ourselves and the universe at large. The power of remembering is at the centre of the spiritual path to self-discovery and realisation.
Here is a list of what I believe we have forgotten, or more importantly, a list of things to remember:
1. We forgot our place in the natural world:
In the last couple of hundred years we have detached ourselves from nature. We have exploited, ravaged, consumed and attempted to control nature to appease our greed driven by self-absorbed madness.
We tried to distance ourselves from the natural circle of life. We forgot how to listen to and understand the natural rhythms and cycles of the earth – its signs and languages.
We forgot to follow nature’s path and live in balance with it.
2. We forgot our connection to life and the cosmos:
By detaching ourselves from nature, we forgot that we are deeply connected to it and to the cycles of the universe.
Some tribes on the outskirts of ‘civilisation’, and who still follow ancestral ways, have preserved this connection with respect and reverence.
We, on the other hand have instilled a sense of separateness which drove us balance and in dis-ease. We forgot how all consciousness is interconnected and weaved into a delicate and beautiful dance.
3. We forgot our ancient wisdom:
We forgot our ancestral wisdom. In the quest to gain scientific knowledge through the rationalisation of our mind, we forgot the wisdom through the opening of our heart. We forgot the ancient stories and folk wisdom that was handed down from from seers and wise men of antiquity who lived in harmony with the universe.
4. We forgot our path and our dreams:
By stirring away from our inner path we forgot to dream the dream of life. More importantly we forgot how to awake in that dream and see our true nature as co-creators of life – as the dreamers. We forgot that we have the power to weave dreams and use our power of intention to direct those dreams into manifestation.
With too much chatter, noise and distraction in this dense reality we forgot what we came here to do. We forgot our purpose. We are caught in the mass trance of fabricated consensual reality.
We lost sight of our authenticity, that inner spark that drives us towards our happiness and self-realisation.
We forgot that we are here to be realised as spiritual beings embodied in a physical form and embedded in a congenial universe.
6. We forgot that everything is Love:
This is perhaps the deepest mystery of all that only some seers came to understand it as an all-embracing truth. That truth however is hidden somewhere deep inside of us.
We knew it at some point but have lost touch with it.
We forgot that everything is ultimately energy and consciousness and that love is the fundamental fabric of existence that runs through all energy and consciousness.
7. We forgot to Forgive:
By being made to believe that we are separate and disconnected from the others and from everything else, we forgot to forgive. In its deepest sense forgiveness is the act of reminding ourselves that we are one with everyone and everything and that there is no victim or perpetrator. It’s just all of us together moving together in a dynamic web we call life.
8. We forgot to be Free:
Remind yourself one thing everyday: You were made to be free.
We were born and raised in a ‘reality’ where freedom is only a concept. We were bound to the shackles of fear, misconceptions, false ideologies, material reward and held ransom to rules and laws laid down to safeguard the interest of the few. We were made to forget that we are free agents of change. We are free to be who we are without fear or guilt.
9. We forgot our real power:
Living in fear has made us forget how powerful we are. We forgot the massive power of our will and intention to change our reality. We have been tranced into sleepwalking and following the ready made signs automatons.
10. We forgot our lessons from history:
If there is something that history has taught us is how fast we are at forgetting our lessons.
Time and time again we keep on repeating the same mistakes, stuck in the same patterns of greed and self-destruction.
We cannot be blamed individually for the mistakes done by humanity in the past but we are responsible as individuals to to remind ourselves of the past mistakes and pass it on to the collective psyche.
Human life got more complex and complicated. We are seduced by the glitter of more and not by the power of less. We forgot to be simple and the meaning of simplicity. Life is simple really. Simplicity means discarding all the inessential stuff and ideas that clutter the view to our life purpose and the other truths we have forgotten.
12. We forgot to trust, believe and wonder:
We lost our enchantment with the world. We forgot to be wondered by the miracle of life. We do not stand in awe at the majesty of it all anymore. Our skepticism and cynical view of the world has made us lose trust in ourselves and the magic of the universe. We forgot how to believe. This is perhaps the biggest tragedy of all. It weakened our spirit and impoverished our soul.
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Why Constant Learners All Embrace the 5-Hour Rule
This is a post from Michael Simmons, co-founder of Empact.
At the age of 10, Benjamin Franklin l eft formal schooling to become an apprentice to his father. As a teenager, he showed no particular talent or aptitude aside from his love of books.
When he died a little over half a century later, he was America's most respected statesman, its most famous inventor, a prolific author, and a successful entrepreneur.
What happened between these two points to cause such a meteoric rise?
Underlying the answer to this question is a success strategy for life that we can all use, and increasingly must use.
The five-hour rule
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.
Franklin's learning time consisted of:
Waking up early to read and write
Setting personal-growth goals (i.e., virtues list) and tracking the results
Creating a club for “-minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community”
Turning his ideas into experiments
Having morning and evening reflection questions
Every time that Franklin took time his busy day to follow his five-hour rule and spend at least an hour learning, he accomplished less on that day. However, in the long run, it was arguably the best investment of his time he could have made.
Franklin's five-hour rule reflects the very simple idea that, over time, the smartest and most successful people are the ones who are constant and deliberate learners.
So what would it look to make the five-hour rule part of our lifestyle?
The core concept of the five-hour rule: empty space
To find out, we need look no further than chess grandmaster and world-champion martial artist Josh Waitzkin. Instead of squeezing his days for the maximum productivity, he's actually done the opposite.
Waitzkin, who also authored The Art of Learning, purposely creates slack in his day so he has “empty space” for learning, creativity, and doing things at a higher quality. Here's his explanation of this approach from a recent Tim Ferriss podcast episode:”I have built a life around having empty space for the development of my ideas for the creative process.
And for the cultivation of a physiological state which is receptive enough to tune in very, very deeply to people I work with … In the creative process, it's so easy to drive for efficiency and take for granted the really subtle internal work that it takes to play on that razor's edge.”Adding slack to our day allows us to:
1. Plan out the learning.
This allows us to think carefully about what we want to learn. We shouldn't just have goals for what we want to accomplish. We should also have goals for what we want to learn.
2. Deliberately practice. Rather than doing things automatically and not improving, we can apply the proven principles of deliberate practice so we keep improving. This means doing things taking time to get honest feedback on our work and practicing specific skills we want to improve.
3. Ruminate. This helps us get more perspective on our lessons learned and assimilate new ideas. It can also help us develop slow hunches in order to have creative breakthroughs.
Walking is a great way to process these insights, as shown by many greats who were or are walking fanatics, from Beethoven and Charles Darwin to Steve Jobs and Jack Dorsey. Another powerful way is through conversation partners.
4. Set aside time just for learning.
This includes activities reading, having conversations, participating in a mastermind, taking classes, observing others, etc.
5. Solve problems as they arise.When most people experience problems during the day, they sweep them under the rug so that they can continue their to-do list. Having slack creates the space to address small problems before they turn into big problems.
6. Do small experiments with big potential payoffs. Whether or not an experiment works, it's an opportunity to learn and test your ideas.
The difference the five-hour rule makes
For many people, their professional day is measured by how much they get done. As a result, they speed through the day and slow down their improvement rate.The five-hour rule flips the equation by focusing on learning first.
To see the implication of this, let's look at a sales call (note: replace “sales call” with any activity you do repeatedly).
Most professionals do a little research before the call, have the call, and then save their notes and move on.
Somebody with a learning focus would think through which skill to practice on the call, practice it on the call, and then reflect on the lessons learned. If that person really wanted an extra level of learning, he or she would invite a colleague on the call and have the colleague provide honest feedback afterward.
Embracing a learning lifestyle means that every time we make a sales call, we get better at doing sales calls. Focusing on learning un-automates our behaviors so we can keep improving them rather than plateauing. Every event is an opportunity to improve.
By focusing on learning as a lifestyle, we get so much more done over the long term.
So, are you ready to embrace the five-hour rule?
How about reading a book a week to get started? Even though he's the richest man in the world and could afford to hire an army of teachers and consultants, Bill Gates still reads a book a week. In a 2016 New York Times interview, he said, “Reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.
“Want to read the most-recommended books by top leaders Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and Elon Musk? Here's our report on the six highly recommended books you should read, along with 460-plus of their other book recommendations.
Thanks to Shizuka Ebata for being an integral part of putting this article together.
Published on: Jun 20, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.