The five-hour rule for success

woman sat on living room floor eating pasta from a pan while reading textbooks

Amrit SaroyaIf I asked you to carve out five hours a week for learning your immediate response might be ‘nice idea but I don’t have the time’. It would certainly be my reaction. But what if I told you that some of the world’s most successful leaders regularly take time out of their day for learning. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey throughout their careers have set time aside for learning. They’re incredibly busy people. Busier than you or me I would guess. And yet they made the time and you can’t deny their success.

For me this demonstrates that learning is the best investment of our time that we can make.

So how do we find the time? Listed below are just some of the ways that I’ve found to fit in learning:

On the job

In your workplace, you are surrounded by individuals that all have different types of knowledge and skills. These are all people that you can learn from. Take the time to sit down with them and find out what they’re working on. See if you can sit in on some of their meetings or workshops. Recently I was asked to facilitate a development workshop for ITIL®. It really was the most fascinating day and I learned so much about the product development process as well as deepening my understanding of ITIL.


I used to hate the idea of networking. Going into a room with a bunch of strangers and making small talk. That was 10 years ago. Networking events have evolved. The events that I go to bring together people who have a shared interest, listen to an informative speaker and then discuss ideas based on that, and usually over a glass of wine! I have learned so much from these events and I genuinely enjoy them.

On my daily commute

According to the transit app Moovit, the average commute in London is 84 minutes. Thank goodness, my commute only takes 30 minutes each way. But that is an hour of time where I’m sat on the train with time on my hands. In the past I might have spent that time on a mindless activity like Candy Crush, but these days I use that time to read a book. As a result, I’m getting through a new book once a week.

Household chores

Every day I spend at least 30 minutes on household chores. That includes cooking, washing up, ironing, tidying etc. To make it more fun I would have had my favourite music playlist. Recently I’ve switched from pop to podcasts. There are thousands of podcasts available for free that cover every subject under the sun. My favourite is The Guilty Feminist and through that I have learned so much about feminism and equality. I’ve recently been recommended No Such Thing as a Fish and I’m hoping it will improve my general knowledge in an easy, comedic fashion.

Resist Netflix

After a long day at the office it is so tempting to come home and binge watch a few episodes of your favourite show. I pride myself on how many Netflix shows I can get through. However, it is the best use of my time. Yes and no. There’s no reason why I can’t come home and watch just one episode instead of three. That frees up a couple of hours for other activities. Sometimes I’ll go to the gym. Other times I will catch up on a webinar or sign up to a MOOC.

Now you may have read this blog post and think that I’m stating the obvious. But honestly ask yourself how much time do you put aside for your own learning. I’ve shared with you my experience and by combining all of these activities I’ve found the time to fit in five hours of learning a week and I am benefitting both personally and professionally. Life-long learning can seem like a cliché or even a chore but it’s essential for everyone if you want to remain relevant in your professional career.

 This week, AXELOS is celebrating Learning at Work Week. Take a look at our Learn While You Earn campaign page to see how we support professional development.

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22 May 2018 Kai Dunna
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Apps like Audible and Blinkist has undoubtedly made my commute more comfortable. I am driving at least 2 hours every day and I have learned a lot by listening to books and podcasts.
24 May 2018 Karabo Matome
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I am going to try this maybe instead of novels read different books rather than the manual that will increase my knowledge of project management. Any suggestions??
7 Apr 2021 Lubica Brnova
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Like the note about household chores...doing the same, using the playlist during cooking, washing..etc Will try to use podcasts instead now, to utilize the time more efficient. Thank you!
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