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Do you use the five-hour rule? If not, you may be missing out on one of the most useful techniques to increase your productivity and achieve your business goals. It’s a simple self-improvement method first described by author and researcher, Michael Simmons. Here’s how it works.
What’s the five-hour rule?
Simmons researched the workplace habits of successful entrepreneurs and noticed that the ones he tracked had a common habit that he says makes them intelligent and more successful. That habit is that they all spend at least five hours a week on constant and deliberate learning. The idea behind it is that by focusing on upgrading your skills for an hour each day during the five days of the working week, you can then apply what you have learnt in your job to improve your work, business and career over time.
Why the five-hour rule works
Many small business owners focus too hard on trying to increase productivity and efficiency rather than on their own self-improvement. It is all too easy to have a ‘task-based’ mindset rather than looking at things creatively and a little ‘outside the box’. Sometimes that’s just what we need to help us achieve our business goals. But in Simmons’ words, this effort is counterproductive because the obvious benefits of self-improving can’t usually be clearly transferred to the business.
“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,” Simmons
The five-hour rule takes an opposite approach in that by making learning the priority and focusing more on acquiring new skills, it allows those of us who are working in small businesses to improve knowledge, become more resourceful and better able to adapt their businesses processes for better productivity and efficiency.
Which entrepreneurs use the five-hour rule and what do they do?
Simmons points out how some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs use the five-hour rule to self-educate and thrive by being avid readers. Warren Buffett spends five to six hours a day reading five newspapers and 500 pages of corporate reports. Bill Gates reads 50 books a year and Elon Musk grew up reading two books a day. Oprah Winfrey has credited much of her success to her profound love of books.
Three ways you can harness the power of the five hour rule
- Set aside dedicated time just for learning: Make it a priority no matter how busy you are (at least one hour each working day).
- Prepare your learning time: Plan ahead what you will learn to avoid time wastage.
- Contemplate: Allow yourself time to mull over what you have learned and how you could utilise the knowledge.
Practical tips to put the five-hour rule into practice
- Set your alarm to wake up early and read or study before work.
- Set daily goals to acquire new knowledge. In a personal journal, ask yourself before the day begins: What will I teach myself today?
- Turn your ideas into experiments to achieve better outcomes at work. Wait for feedback about how your ideas turn out.
- Reflect on the day’s activities at the end of the day and set yourself the task of answering reflective questions about how successful your day was in your personal journal.
The Officeworks Mini Masterclass for Small Business is designed to empower you to achieve your goals. This free online course features eight video lessons and is hosted by leading Australian small business owners. Combining expert insights with practical little wins to apply across all facets of your business and life. Click here to get started.
This article was brought to you by Officeworks who know it is all about the little wins when it comes to kicking big goals.