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Working hard is a no-brainer, most of us work hard day after day, we all have targets to hit and when we hit them we keep pushing to get better and stronger. It can seem though that long-term improvement eludes you, that no matter how hard you work you don’t progress in what you’re doing.

It could be that you’re not devoting enough time to purposefully learning to grow your skillset, reset your thinking and relax; I’m not talking hours a week…just five! Yes, the much talked about five-hour rule – Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are advocates and split it into one hour, five days a week and give that hour 100% of your attention.


Reading, whether fiction or non-fiction, is a fantastic way to learn and is super convenient. I love my Kindle and take it everywhere with me in case I can catch a few minutes of reading. You should set yourself reading goals each week and set yourself targets of volume for the month; mixing up the genre of books from sci-fi to history. Reading broadens vocabulary and understanding of different situations, leading to higher emotional intelligence in experiences in life.


Reflection is important for learning; having the ability to soak in all information and then being able to take the time to reflect on it keeps you feeling in control as well as being able to learn from experiences. Not taking this time will leave you feeling overwhelmed and will lead to you not retaining important learnings from past experiences. I keep a weekly planner for my career, it means I can look back on past experiences, projects and see just how far in my career I have come – it allows me to develop ideas and realign different projects to each other to get the most efficient outcome.


Google allows their employees 20% of their time to work on extracurricular projects that make them happy, and while you may have to set your time outside of working hours you should also experiment with projects. Whether it’s learning to play the guitar, host a charity ball or having your own allotment, get a project and a goal in mind and give yourself enough time to actually achieve it. It will give you a sense of accomplishment, a new skill and if nothing else, an anecdotal story to tell.

Improvement not productivity

While being productive is important, it is not everything and most of us who think we are productive could actually learn a few tricks from learning new techniques to make us quicker and therefore more productive. Learning self-improvement and self-motivation techniques, slowing down and taking the time to strategize could make you more productive in the long run. Have a look at my other blog ‘Why slowing down may be key to better productivity’ to discover more.

Try to channel your inner Oprah and see if spending five hours a week on deliberate learning develops your skill-set and has you light-years ahead of your peers



Catherine works in international marketing and events, she has a passion for sharing her knowledge to help others in their career. A keen traveler she has lived in New Zealand, China and England, and explored a lot more of the world; Catherine describes herself as a cup half full and embraces her busy life at 100mph.

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