At a Glance: Block off five hours on your calendar every week for focused, intentional learning. That means time spent actually expanding what you know.
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Have you ever heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000-Hour” rule? It’s the idea that people who excel at what they do typically spend at least 10,000 hours practicing their craft. Peyton Manning wasn’t just born one of the best quarterbacks of all time and Yo-Yo Ma didn’t spontaneously become the greatest cellist.

Lucky for you, researchers have discovered that this number doesn’t ring true for every craft. In fact, Anders Ericsson — the man who led the research that inspired Gladwell’s “10,000-Hour” rule — says the deliberateness of practice is more important than the number of hours practiced.

What do Gladwell and Ericsson both agree on? Persistent practice is key to mastering a talent.

That’s why the “Five-Hour Rule” is a great approach to learning new skills. Practiced by Benjamin Franklin and many other notables, this approach to learning recommends setting aside time each day for intentional learning. Want to give it a shot? Block off five hours every week on your calendar — that’s one hour each work day — for deliberate practice or learning. Here are three things to keep in mind:

1

Recognize the difference between deliberate practice and hard work

Going through the motions can help build memory, but you’re not actually learning anything new. When you’re taking notes, are you just copying down information verbatim? Try reading course material then writing down what you just learned in your own words.

2

Pinpoint how you can improve, not how you can increase productivity or efficiency

Expand your knowledge. What do you not yet know? Pay attention to what piques your curiosity, and ask your mentors if you feel stuck. They can help identify the next step in your development. 

3

Give yourself a minimum dose of required learning

Similar to how we have minimum requirements for nutrients and exercise, think of learning as a lifelong necessity. We need to continuously challenge our minds to stay sharp.

Whether for school or for life, continual learning is worth committing to. Make it a part of your weekly routine.


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