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Product Insights: The 5-Hour Rule for Career Advancement and Overall Life Satisfaction

Introduction

Some people aimlessly progress through careers and life, gaining little progress or satisfaction. They are nearly the same place at the end of their careers as they were at the beginning. Lack of progress or satisfaction is most likely caused by not setting clear goals and not knowing how to make smart goals a reality. Once formal education ends, many people invest little time honing and developing new skills. Excuses include not having enough time (we are all busy working 40+ hours per week) or not knowing what to study. If this situation sounds familiar, read on. The solution, the 5-Hour Rule, is a simple concept many successful people use. Benjamin Franklin, one of the United States’ most famous founding fathers, developed the 5-hour rule, investing roughly one hour a day, five days a week, in deliberate learning. As Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

What is the 5-Hour Rule?

In short, the 5-Hour rule is a very simple rule that means dedicating at least five hours per week (one hour per day, during the weekday) to developing a new skill or learning something new, something that helps you meet (or get closer to meeting) one or more of your smart goals.

Benefits of Practicing the 5-Hour Rule

A couple of old sayings go: “The more you learn, the more you’ll earn” and “When you stop growing, you start dying.” The more you can contribute to your profession and others, the more you will receive back. Once you master any skill, you can create consistency in your life, improve your time-management skills,  increase your long-term productivity, and take on new opportunities as they happen.

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How Do I Make the Time for the 5-Hour Rule?

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who are “early risers,” people who do their best work (or study) early in the morning, or those who are the “night owls,” the ones who are more inclined to have their best brain activity later in the day or evening. Determine which camp you belong to and when you should fit in an extra hour of study time each day during the week. It’s easy for an early riser. They need to get up an hour early each day.

If you have done everything you can and still cannot find the time to devote to learning an hour daily, consider reducing time spent on social media, watching television, or spending your hour on some other nonvalue-added activity. Focus on learning first, and then only when you are ready to take it easy, participate in these other activities.

What Should I Learn?

The topics are endless, and you will never complete everything you want in a lifetime, so it is best to concentrate your study time on a topic that interests you the most and gets you closer to meeting your career goals. For someone working in compliance, perhaps there is a new standard you want to learn or a better way of performing it (if it is a test standard). How about understanding RoHS, WEEE, or REACH regulations much better than you do now? Or maybe you want to improve design for product safety, signal integrity, or EMC? How about improving general skills, such as public speaking, writing, programming, or office productivity tools (word processing, spreadsheet, or drawing software packages)? It is up to you, and you get to decide, but the most important thing is getting started and committing to continual learning throughout your career. Set small goals and practice the 5-Hour Rule to achieve them!

Follow-up Activities

Once you have learned something useful, do not just sit it aside and move on. Ruminate on it for a while. Try deliberately practicing what you learned and try to solve problems as they arise. Make what you learned a part of your daily professional life from that point forward.

Summary

Practice the 5-Hour Rule and go to bed each night a little wiser than when you got up that day. Practice the 5-Hour Rule and experience constant growth and constant success. Seamlessly take on new opportunities as they arise. Become the compliance expert you always wanted to be.

References: Further Reading and Watching

  1. Simmons, M., 5-Hour Rule: If you’re not spending 5 hours per week learning, you’re being irresponsible.
  2. Management Consulted, 5 Hour Rule: A Learner’s Success Model (November 17, 2023).
  3. Frank, T., The 5 Hour Rule.
  4. The Art of Improvement, Why Constant Learners All Embrace the 5-Hour Rule.
  5. SUCCESS INSIDER, Why Successful People All Embrace the 5-Hour Rule.
  6. Develop Good Habits, The 5-Hour Rule: A Simple Technique to Master ANY Skill.
  7. Michael Simmons, Warren Buffett’s No. 1 Lifelong Habit: The 5-Hour Rule.
  8. Blue Chip Mindset, The 5 Hour Rule | Why Constant Learners Become Successful People.
  9. Vihan Chelliah, The 5 Hour Rule | Why Constant Learners Become Successful People.

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