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How Real Estate Agents Can Apply Ben Franklin’s “5-Hour Rule”

In my last post, I talked about the importance of lifelong learning. Today, I'm reflecting on how real estate agents can apply Ben Franklin’s “5-Hour Rule”!

Curiosity—or an insatiable thirst for knowledge—is one of the key characteristics of successful business leaders. For some, it comes naturally. If it doesn’t for you, no worries. This is a trait you can learn to adopt. And in today’s blog post, I have some tactical advice for how you can structure your day to transform yourself into a lifelong learner.

"Ben Franklin made it a habit of dedicating one hour a day (five days a week) to intentional learning. Are you applying the 5-hour Rule?" - Michael Simmons twitter icon 2

The 5-Hour Rule

Being a lifelong learner is a commitment. It’s not haphazardly picking up a book and reading from time to time—it’s much more intentional.

The key is deliberate learning. And that’s where Benjamin Franklin comes in.

In an article for Inc.com, entrepreneur Michael Simmons wrote about Franklin’s habit of dedicating one hour a day (five days a week) to intentional learning. Simmons dubbed this the “5-hour rule.” It’s a habit that many of today’s business leaders have adopted, too, including Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Elon Musk.

We spend so much of our day doing—trying to be as efficient as possible so we can cross off every item on our To Do lists—that we often forget to take time to expand our minds and come up with better ways of doing business. Or we feel that it’s a waste of time (I assure you, it’s not). Generating new ideas and becoming better versions of ourselves is what allows us to create a sustainable real estate business.

So, as a real estate agent, how can you apply the 5-hour rule to your workweek? Add 1 hour of deliberate learning per day!

Here are some starting points:


There’s a world of knowledge out there, both online and in print. Since we spend so much of our days staring at screens, I recommend spending one hour a day reading an actual book. In addition to reading books on real estate and business strategy, try cracking the spine of something inspiring. The first step to improving your real estate business is focusing on your personal growth.


Sometimes, new knowledge can be discovered simply by looking within yourself. By taking time to reflect, you might uncover a solution to that one client’s problem, come up with a new idea for prospecting, or realize that you haven’t been prioritizing exercise and that’s why you’ve been so sluggish the past week.

A 2014 study performed by professors at Harvard, UNC, and HEC Paris revealed that “learning from direct experience can be more effective if coupled with reflection—that is, the intentional attempt to synthesize, abstract, and articulate the key lessons taught by experience.”

With that in mind, here are some tips for purposeful reflection:

  • Go on a walk, alone. The physical activity will get your mind fired up.
  • Ask yourself these 10 questions for self-reflection, or these.
  • Join this Facebook group for constant learners.
  • Plan a brainstorming session with a colleague. Lock yourselves in a room with a white board for an hour, talk out your frustrations and challenges, and let the ideas fly.


Experimenting is the perfect companion to reading and reflecting. Once you’ve generated new ideas, put them to the test!

Try out that new Facebook messaging tactic. Tweak your elevator pitch and practice it on your family members. Tinker with a few different CRM software demos to see if you can find a better system for your business. Watch a YouTube video on interior photography, then practice honing your skills by snapping photos of your own home.

By setting aside time to experiment with new ideas, they won’t just remain ideas scratched on a notepad, destined for the trash bin. You’ll have the opportunity to test them out and see if they work. This allows you to learn whether or not these new ideas should become a permanent part of your business.

Build A Sustainable Real Estate Business With The 5-Hour Rule

You might be thinking, I don’t have time to read, or reflect, or experiment. I have a real estate business to run!

Don’t let yourself get stuck on the treadmill of always going going going, never stopping to think What could I be doing better?

To grow your real estate business, you must dedicate some time to focus on improving your business, whether that's diving into your real estate and transaction management CRM... or simply improving yourself. It just takes one hour a day.

Do you dedicate some time each day for intentional learning?

What do you do during that hour? Please share in the comments section below.

Dave Crumby

Dave is the Chairman of Firepoint / Realvolve, a state-of-the-art customer relationship management (CRM) platform built expressly for real estate agents. Dave began his real estate career as an agent in 1996. Dave authored in 2013 the book titled 'REAL: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits in Real Estate’ that has since become a best seller. The book features Dave's experience and the wisdom of other successful real estate leaders, such as the CEOs of Zillow, Trulia, Better Homes and Gardens, and many others.


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