The five-hour rule is a process first implemented by Benjamin Franklin for constant and deliberate learning. It involves spending one hour a day or five hours a week learning, reflecting and experimenting.
According the CEO Magazine, many of the world's top leaders, like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Barack Obama, Richard Branson, Jack Ma and Elon Musk follow this rule.
First used by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, the concept focused on increasing his knowledge through one hour of deliberate learning a day. The American polymath also dedicated time to reflecting and experimenting for self-improvement.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest," Franklin said in 1758.
Reading is just the starting point for learning
From waking up early to read and reflect and setting personal goals to answering self-reflection questions in the morning and evening and turning his ideas into experiments, Franklin's golden rule led him on a successful entrepreneurial journey with many inventions to his name.
Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates is one of the most well-known voracious readers churning through about 50 books every year.
"If you read enough, there is a similarity between things that make it easy, because this thing is like this other thing," Bill Gates told Quartz in 2016.
"If you have a broad framework, then you have a place to put everything."
Lauded as being one of the greatest investors of all time, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett spends as many as six hours a day reading. To compare, on average, adults in the US spend just 20 minutes a day reading.
"Read 500 pages like this every day," Buffett said.
"That is how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it."
Inspired by Franklin, the five-hour rule was coined by Michael Simmons, Founder of Empact.
"The long-term effects of intellectual complacency are just as insidious as the long-term effects of not exercising, eating well or sleeping enough," Simmons wrote.
"Not learning at least five hours per week is the smoking of the 21st century."
Invest one hour every day
Franklin used to etch out an hour in the morning before the day began.
Dedicating an hour a day or five hours every week in learning or practicing will eventually cultivate into greater knowledge.
People commuting to work can listen to audio books or read on the journey, or simply find 30 minutes at the start and end of their day for dedicated learning.
Take time to read
Former US President Barack Obama would make time to read an hour a day in the White House.
"Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible, from complex word problems and the meaning of our history to scientific discovery and technological proficiency," Obama said.
More often than not, thought leaders spend time turning the pages of non-fiction books, biographies and news reports, with very little time spent on works of fiction.
Spend time reflecting
From Spanx Founder Sara Blakely and Virgin Group Founder and CEO Sir Richard Branson to history's greats including Aristotle Onassis and Frida Kahlo, reflecting on your learnings, thoughts and mistakes is an effective processing tool.
"I keep a dream diary, a yoga diary, I keep diaries on people I have met and things they have said to me, advice they have given me. I keep an acting journal. I keep collage books … it allows me to get things out of my head and work them out in a way that feels safe," actress Emma Watson said.
Once you've become a magnet for knowledge and have processes in place to think through mistakes and challenges, experimenting is the logical next step.
Experimenting and testing is a fundamental part to the five-hour rule - showing what is and isn't working, Whether one has finished a book about leadership lessons or reflected on a mistake they keep making, trying new solutions will drive further.
The World Economic Forum predicts some 85 million jobs will be displaced by 2025. It's also believed 54% of employees will require up skilling by 2022.
"In the future, we will see the most competitive businesses are the ones that have invested heavily in their human capital – the skills and competencies of their employees," Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, said in late 2020.