Think of someone who epitomizes or denotes success. I’m sure the likes of Bill Gates, Obama, Mark Cuban, Jack Ma, Oprah Winfrey, and Elon Musk must have flickered across your mind. Now, what is common between these people who work in widely different fields?  This healthy chunk of successful people do have something in common, and it is this shared feature that led to the top: the Five-Hour Rule. While following this rule might not make you the next Warren Buffett or Mark Zuckerberg, it’s a great place to start. Jack Ma, the multi-millionaire founder of the Chinese group Alibaba, has credited the Five-Hour rule with his success and swear by it. So here’s a look at everything you need to know about the Five-Hour Rule and why it helps.

Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba, says,

“Reading can give you a good head start; this is often what your peers cannot obtain. Compared to others, readers are more likely to know other industries’ strategies and tactics.”

What’s the Five-Hour Rule?

The Five-Hour rule was minted by Michael Simmons, who is the founder of Empact.  Benjamin Franklin is the first known user of this rule because he diligently used to set aside time every day to pursue new things. The rule in itself is pretty straightforward and easy to understand, but it isn’t the easiest to follow. In all fairness, if it were easy to follow, the world would never run short of Jack Mas and Buffets. Every weekday, find a way to keep aside one hour to dedicate to conscious practice and training. Whether it be reading, studying, practicing something you know, or implementing, make sure you put in something related to skill development in this one hour.

Why does it work?

The reason why the rule has been so effective in improving and nurturing successful people is due to two factors. The first one being that no longer is it the best thing to work harder and for longer hours. Employers are looking for people who can get the job done, quickly and with minimum effort. 

Smart working requires you to learn while you work, and it is here that the Five-Hour Rule becomes crucial, as it lets you do both efficiently. Not only will this help you get your work done, but it will also help you in long-term self-improvement. Bill Gates does not read 50 books that focus on his project every year; rather, he focuses on bettering himself, which in the long run, helps him improve his plans. 


Also, secondly, expertise is vital. Nothing can substitute really knowing the subject matter, and so learning every day helps you grow as an individual and brings you closer to being an expert every single day. 

The acquisition of skills has become dramatically underrated. But in practice, having encyclopedic knowledge in their respective fields is how entrepreneurs like Jack Ma carved out space for themselves in a highly competitive market.

Five Hours a Week in Three Ways

Here’s how you split your five hours to maximise learning.

Reading Time:

Utilize this time to go through a book that you think can help you grow as an entrepreneur and as a person. Bill Gates, Oprah, Mark Cuban, and Nike founder Phil Knight, did not spend their time reading novels. Instead, they focused on non-fiction books which taught them a new skill or gave them a new idea. Pick out a field you are interested in and handpick five books that can explain the workings of this field to you. Spend time daily reading and analysing these books till you have understood the concepts explored in them.

Thinking Time

There’s no point in reading a million books if you don’t truly understand what it is about. Hence, use this time to reflect on what you have learnt and keep analysing those concepts. Thinking helps you concentrate on what you have studied, and you might even learn something new in the process. It is also an excellent way to test yourself and see how much of the knowledge gained has been retained by you.

Experimenting time

Don’t just keep reading and thinking. Instead, get out there and put those concepts to use. Experiment with your ideas to truly understand them and figure them out. Doing so will not only teach you the concepts but will also help you see how it is that we can implement ideas and concepts. This gives you valuable real-world experience and enables you to gain insight into the things you have picked up. Jack Ma recommends applying the new knowledge you have acquired to real-life situations.

When Thomas Corley interviewed and studied 200 millionaires, he found that a staggering 86 percent of them spent a reasonable amount of time reading. What’s more, 63 per cent even admitted that they listen to audiobooks while on the move. This proves beyond any reasonable doubt, just how important it is to keep learning if you want to be successful. So pick up a book, and start learning a little bit, every day. Make learning a habit, to become more successful and productive in life. Invest in a reading habit, and grow yourself and your company, a little bit, every day.

 Do you already use the Five-Hour Rule to boost your productivity and grow as an individual? Let us know in the comments if you have any queries regarding how to implement this rule.