Written by Dylan Gerstley

Make learning a lifestyle with the 5-hour rule

As we move into the busy months of fall, fresh off a summer of fun, the days get shorter and schedules get more chaotic. Coming home from a long day of work and other responsibilities can mean relief. You’ve made it through another day, and now it’s time to veg out in front of the TV. A few deep breaths later and you’re more than just a few episodes into the latest Netflix Original.

Finding ways to decompress is important, but bingeing television isn’t always the healthiest way to go about it. In fact, Reader’s Digest found that adults who binged television shows for three hours or more a day increased their risk for major health issues, including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

It’s not always easy to find free time, but when you can, why not make the most of it? That’s where the idea of the 5-hour rule comes in, a philosophy utilized by great minds from Ben Franklin to Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey.

The 5-hour rule

The 5-hour rule was created by Michael Simmons, the founder of Empact, an organization dedicated to lifting individuals out of mental and financial poverty by helping them find their passion and purpose.

The simple concept of the 5-hour rule was borne out of the observation that no matter how busy successful people are, they set aside at least an hour a day to do some dedicated learning and practicing. Elon Musk and Warren Buffet join the names above; you name a successful person and they probably practice the 5-hour rule.

Turning your free time into time for learning can feel like a chore, but by embracing the 5-hour rule, each event in your life becomes an opportunity to practice and learn something new to help you tomorrow and into the future.

Curate your own content

The digital age has made a staggering amount of content available to us. Instead of being forced to watch the latest TV shows put out by NBC and the other big networks, we can find and consume any program that we want.

And the content doesn’t stop with television, either. Podcasts have made a roaring comeback, providing a digital audio experience similar to that of the radio. Amazon has helped popularize the audiobook, and Reddit, YouTube, and Twitch have championed the dawn of the at-home content-creator.

As long as you have an internet connection, you can access endless amounts of information. Take the reins of your own content exploration and push yourself to engage in documentaries, podcasts, and audiobooks that provide new perspectives and insights to consider.

Dive into cooking shows and find something that rocks your palate! The 5-hour rule doesn’t have to feel like homework. You can find enjoyable content that brings new joy to your life while still satisfying the need to decompress and relax.

 Consider loosening the schedule

Making time for learning can seem tricky at first, but the true beauty comes from finding the time and making it flexible. Yes, it’s important and strategic to have goals about what you would like to learn in that hour, but giving yourself some slack reduces stress and allows you to optimize the time to the day’s needs.

The 5-hour rule philosophy means that hour can be spent learning, but it also gives you the chance to find some clarity, or solve smaller problems before they turn into bigger ones. It’s more about the attitude of self-improvement and constant reflection. If your hour of learning turns into hectic back and forth emails, find the lesson in that experience. Work to implement it for the next time, and your hour, though not spent learning in the conventional sense, will have been worth its weight in stress, to help you improve in the future.

We often measure the professional day by how much work gets done, but that slows down improvement rates and cheats the learning lifestyle the 5-hour rule creates.

Each new event in daily life is an opportunity to learn, whether it’s a company-wide sales call or a conversation with a stranger, and by embracing a learning lifestyle through the 5-hour rule you can create long-lasting value, both in your personal and professional life.

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