Looking to Read More? Follow the Five Hour rule!
What do Bill Gates, Barak Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Elon Musk have in common?
Well, they are all wildly successful people in their own domains; everybody knows that. What many people do not know, however, that they all follow a little ritual called the ‘five hour rule’ in their day-to-day life.
What is the Five Hour Rule?
It is the idea of setting aside one hour each day of the week – thus five hours per week – for reading and learning.
Our lives are busy, and between work and family responsibilities, it is increasingly difficult to find time for oneself, let alone for reading which a lot of people find tedious anyway. Even if we manage to find a gap hour, we are more likely to spend it with our families, or even putting in more work. If we do read, it tends to be light reading, designed to take our minds away from work.
But these thought leaders disagree. In fact, they would have you believe that one of the key element of their success is their insistence of routine reading. Thomas Corly’s five years study with more than 200 self-made billionaires all over the world found that a staggering 86% of them routinely read, and not just for fun. They read for knowledge gathering, skill building, and idea generation. They specifically invested that reading time into expanding their minds.
So how do they find time to read during their definitely packed-up daily schedules? They employ the five hour rule.
The term ‘five hour rule’ was coined by Michael Simons, founder of Empact, who credited Benjamin Franklin with the inspiration behind the idea. One of America’s most revered statesman, inventor, and author, Franklin deliberately and routinely set aside about one hour each weekday for reading up and learning. He continued this throughout his working life.
Giving your mind some space
The core concept of the five hour rule is giving your mind each day a window of empty space for self-improvement. This is very different from taking a rest from work. This is, rather, giving your mind some room to deeply contemplate and assimilate which it often misses out on in the rush of daily-life exigencies. This time is not for escape or entertainment, rather, for deepening your body of knowledge which is an essential but oft-ignored part of your work/life goals.
Following the five hour rule you can use your designated hour each day in various ways, but most of the activities are based around three activities:
Reading – This is a no-brainer really, but regular reading gives you an enormous advantage over your competitors in any sector. Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has pointed out that reading is often the difference between industry leaders and their closest competitors. Readers tend to be more familiar and up-to-date with strategies, innovations, and changes in their respective fields than non-readers, and that gives them a huge advantage. Also, reading non-subject books and materials in a deliberate and planned way is almost as important as reading industry-subject material. A varied interest and knowledge base feeds our creativity and allows us to connect more ideas, producing more innovations.
Reflecting – Assimilating what you have read is equally important, and the five hour rule should accommodate a time for reflection as well. When you gather knowledge, it is crucial to assimilate and evaluate that gathered knowledge against information you already have and help your brain to connect the new ideas to the old ones. Only by assimilating your ideas you can hope to start innovating.
Applying – You have gathered knowledge, you have weighed it against your existing knowledge base. Now it is time to apply those ideas. Use the five hour framework to apply your ideas and knowledge to applied work like writing and experiments.
The five hour rule is not a reading break, and should not be treated as such. Use this rule to deepen your knowledge base and to hone your skills and strategies. Purposeful reading is what gives the successful their competitive edge. Following this simple routine might give you yours in your life. happy reading!