Unlock the power of the 5-hour rule used by Bill Gates, Elon Musk

Spending hours on social media and streaming services might boost our happiness for a short period of time but these channels do nothing to increase our long-term happiness. Try the five-hour rule to improve your mindfulness and creativity.

Unlock the power of the 5-hour rule used by Bill Gates, Elon Musk

Sunday August 14, 2022,

4 min Read

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” - Benjamin Franklin.

In today’s fast-paced life, the attention span of an average person is less than a minute. Our hands are so full of multitasking that we do too many things at a time and mindlessly keep scrolling reels after reels. Or, we don’t do anything at all and just binge-watch a trending series. 

While some of this content might be informative, it does not contribute to self-development in the long run. You see, being successful is a choice. And the choice is made up of simple different habits which we inculcate in our day-to-day lives. 

The same time which you spend on social media can be spent on the ‘5-hour rule.’ Now, this 5-hour rule is a daily habit of some of the most eminent personalities like Bill Gates, Jack Ma, Elon Musk, and even Benjamin Franklin. 

Benjamin Franklin was a firm believer in the 5-hour rule though the concept was coined by Michael Simmons. The rule is that you dedicate at least one hour every day- five hours a week to learning and reading. This one hour can be at any time of the day. 

You can wake up in the morning and read a book while sipping hot coffee or just listen to an audiobook while commuting to work. Be mindful that this time is only to be used for learning and self-development without getting distracted. So, how can you implement this rule?

Read: Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, learned how to build rockets by reading. Bill Gates, on the other hand, is known to read at least 50 books a year and it is said that he carries books with him even on vacations! Just pick up a book and start. Not a fast reader? Read a chapter. New to reading books? Go for books with simple language. But just start. 

Reflect: Consuming too much knowledge without reflecting can get overwhelming. Reading or learning should always be followed up with reflection. Try to write down your thoughts after reading the book. You can also write down any questions you may have in your mind and you will notice in the long run that you can successfully reflect on the events of the day and take action accordingly. 

Experiment: One of the common things which all successful people have is the confidence to experiment. If Elon Musk wouldn’t dare to experiment, SpaceX wouldn’t be the first private company to launch a rocket into space and return to Earth intact. If Jack Ma didn’t experiment with Alibaba, he wouldn’t have been able to secure Goldman Sachs and Softbank as its initial investors. He even recommends applying the knowledge gained from books to real-life scenarios. 

Working and learning are two different things: We may learn a few things while we are on the 40-hour work shift. That’s called learning at a job which teaches us how to deal with mundane work problems. 

However, this cannot be confused with the learning which we do during the 5-hour rule. One of the absolute necessities of the rule is that you should only focus on learning during that particular time. 

Dedicate this time to self-improvement, setting up goals, and being successful. If you are working or doing other things at the time of learning then you are not doing it right. 

Focus on improvement: Like mentioned earlier, success is made up of multiple small habits and improvement is one of them. Self-improvement to be precise. Now, many of us might confuse self-improvement with productivity. 

Yes, being productive throughout the day is important but being productive without learning, reflection and experimentation is not so useful. It can be challenging to be consistent with learning when you don’t get any immediate rewards. But self-improvement doesn’t happen in a day. It’s a time-consuming process that is sure to delight you in the long run. 

Understandably, some of you might struggle with getting into the habit of the 5-hour rule at first. If one hour a day is overwhelming, start with fifteen minutes. 

Bill Gates shares his book recommendations every year and our top tip is you pick one. It may be challenging to be consistent at first but you will surely love all the knowledge that will come to you over the due course of time. Give the 5-hour rule a try and who knows you can well be on your way to becoming the next most successful person the world has known!

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti