Last updated: 06.02.19

The 5 Hour Rule - Learning 5 Days a Week

In this article we continue to explore our current theme – growth mindset – introducing the concept of ‘the 5-hour rule’, a method which can help develop a growth mindset.

What is the 5-hour rule?

It is said that the 5-hour rule was developed by Benjamin Franklin, so, as a concept, it has been around for quite a while. The idea is that we should take an hour of our week days to do some directed, purposeful learning, using the time to either learn a new skill, read, practise, reflect, determine goals or experiment. As this acknowledges there is always something new to learn or develop, therefore encouraging lifelong learning, it is very much in line with a growth mindset and can be a way of developing a change in mindset.

The 5-hour rule has been said to play a big part in people’s success from professional investor Warren Buffet, to Microsoft’s Bill Gates, because it helps expand your mind, knowledge and helps build valuable insights. In today’s world, which is changing so rapidly with new technologies, concepts and thinking being introduced all the time, it is necessary more than ever for us to take that time to keep up to date.

How can you implement the 5-hour rule?

We recently recommended using L&D to encourage a change in mindset, and this is a great opportunity to do just that. You can introduce this hour a day of purposeful learning into your learning culture and in the long run it will help employees develop and grow, leading to better productivity.

There are various ways to use this hour, which encompass all different stages of learning, whether that is planning, learning, doing or reflecting.


This is probably the method that will first come to mind for most people. Finding the time to complete any training is always hard, and this is where an hour of learning comes in useful, whether it is training you have been assigned or an area you have identified yourself.

Feed your curiosity

Is there any area of the business or a role that you want to know more about, or that you feel would help you in your role? This hour could be the perfect opportunity to do just that, whether it is shadowing someone or arranging a meeting to learn more.

Take the time to read

Lots of successful leaders say that reading plays a significant part in their success. Therefore, we recommend using this hour to take the time to read up on the topic you want to explore; we also expand this to listening to webinars, podcasts, or watching videos. Anything which informs you about a new topic or expands on one you want to explore further.

Practise and reflect

Research has shown that if knowledge learnt isn’t acted on or reflected upon, the knowledge is rapidly lost; therefore, you need to make the time to both try out your newly acquired knowledge and reflect on it. This could be applied to any skills, but let’s take presentation skills as an example. Imagine you have identified a new presentation technique you want to practise and take the chance at your next opportunity. Rather than just leaving it at that, you would then consciously take the time after to reflect on how it went. This doesn’t have to be an isolated activity either, it may include asking for feedback from honest colleagues, or filming it and watching it back.

Reflection can be applied to anything, though, not just what you have practised. It might be what you have learnt in a training session, or read about in an article. Research is showing that deliberate, disciplined reflection is a vital part of our acquisition of knowledge, and one that is often over-looked, with the time-factor often being the reason. But now, with this hour, you can make sure you have the time to carry out the necessary reflection.


One of the most underrated ways of learning is through discussion, and this could be in person or via a social learning platform. There may be a topic that you and a colleague both want to learn about, so discussing your ideas and thoughts would be fundamental to the learning process. Walking meetings are also becoming more and more popular, and we believe that is partially because they provide space to fully focus on the topic at hand without any distractions.


It can also be a space to get creative. There may be ideas you have wanted to try but haven’t been able to implement or worried that they might turn out to be worthless. But whether they are successful or not, there will always be something to be learnt – facing the unknown full-on is an important part of growth mindset.

Goals and ideas

You can also use the hour to think about what goals you want to achieve, and how you might get there, or use it to track goals you have already made. This ties in with reflection and can spark ideas for how to use further hours.

If you’re interested in learning more about growth mindset, we have a wealth of resources. Whether it is a free bite-sized course (which is also available in our Personal and Professional Development Training Package), or a range of articles, videos and recorded seminars – we’ve got the topic covered.