It has been said that the world’s preeminent leaders and influencers all have one thing in common: they read constantly. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey — all have been known to be voracious learners and readers, and have been quoted at different times saying that this desire has ultimately lead to their astounding success.

Makes sense when you think about it. But in our busy times, how do you make a concerted effort to engage in this great practice? Many who make the time to invest in reading or developing themselves outside of their daily lives are practicing the 5 Hour Rule, something that one of our early leaders Benjamin Franklin was a strong proponent of.

 

5 Hour Rule

 

What is this 5 Hour Rule? Well, it basically says that you spend at least one hour a day on the weekdays focused on some sort of self-development or learning practice. This could be reading, writing, experimenting with a new idea, or just anything that expands your grey matter. We often get into habits, through our daily work or personal lives, that automate our thinking or the way we approach tasks. When we get into these ritualistic habits, oftentimes we begin to plateau and level out, and not do things at the top level.

Implementing the 5 Hour Rule, by just setting aside at least an hour a day reading or developing a new skill, will give you time to reflect and think about how to improve on your skills. If you’re thinking about a new way to approach and earn a customer, maybe reading “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie will give you the chance to see where you can improve your skills and get those creative juices flowing. Or maybe you’re an artist who is constantly seeking inspiration through various sources, so spending some time at a local park with your sketchbook could be just the time you need to experiment with a new thought without all the distractions of the day to day.

While we always focus on just getting a job or task done, we often don’t think about ways to improve and get better at what we do. By making a concerted effort to reflect and learn about the world around us, or just write down thoughts about a particular subject, we are actually making an investment into ourselves. Yes it may take time away from getting those other tasks done, but in the long run it’s a time investment worth making.

However you decide to practice self-development, know that the investment in yourself just a few hours a week will make an enormous difference in your business and your life over the long run!