A few years ago, Malcolm Gladwell wrote about 10,000-Hour Rule. Then I read that the researchers who came up with that rule said he got it a bit wrong.  Gladwell made it seem that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a world-class expert at anything.

Does 10,000 hours seem daunting? If you’re doing 8 hour work days, that’s 1250 days or 250 work weeks or 4.8 years. Seems like a long time, but 5 years to really become expert at something sounds reasonable.

The clarification is that different fields require different amounts of practice to become expert.

I found a more encouraging plan, that might be called a 5-Hour Rule.  This idea is based on a number of famous and busy people who set aside at least an hour a day (five hours a week) for something that they might classify as a deliberate practice or learning practice.

Three of these practices which we can all try are reading, reflection, and experimentation.

This doesn’t mean that you sometimes read. It needs to be a kind of discipline in the way that a musician or athlete practices  certain number of hours every week for set times. Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, reads two hours a day.

The reflection practice sounds too easy. Set aside an hour a day just to think?  Yes, but this is not an hour nap or staring at people passing from a park bench. But it’s not a mediation session either. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner schedules two hours of thinking time per day. More sophisticated is billionaire Ray Dalio who logs into a system any business mistake he makes. The entry is public to all employees at his company, and then he schedules time with his team to find the root cause. Entrepreneur billionaire Sara Blakely is a journaler and has more than 20 notebooks in which she records and reflect on the good and bad things that happen in her life.

You can go back to Ben Franklin, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison to find people who deliberately set aside time for experimentation. They were inventors, but most of us aren’t looking to invent for ourselves. Google was known for allowing employees to experiment with their own new projects during 20 percent of their work time.  Some of that led to new products like Gmail and Google Maps, but some of it may have led to new ideas but no new products. And that’s okay.

What might you experiment with?  Art, music, craft, a new language, a sport?

These five hours are not about productivity as much as being about improvement. All of us do some degree of “lifelong learning” every week, but it is probably more “just-in-time learning” than deliberate blocks of time for improvement without set products at the end.

The author of that article compares this to have minimum recommended dosages of vitamins, or step goals on your fitness monitor or on the machine at the gym.

I wonder if I can count the hours I spend each week writing on my blogs?