Hack Your Productivity with The 5 Hour Rule From Mr. Robot
For starters, let’s not call it The 5 Hour Rule… If we call it that, then it sounds a little pretentious, so how about “Deliberate Learning”? Doesn’t that already sound better? Maybe it doesn’t, but let’s just go with it…
“What is a Mr. Robot and what exactly can it teach me about Deliberate Learning?”, you ask.
Mr. Robot is a Golden Globe winning TV show about a young, anti-social computer programmer named Elliot Alderson. Now, before you dismiss this tidbit of information, just know that Elliot is a little bit like Batman, maybe even Superman? I know, I know… It’s a long-shot.
So, Elliot works as a cybersecurity engineer by day and after meeting (or so we’re made to believe. Spoiler alert!) a band of tech misfits, he decides to become a vigilante hacker by night.
What does all this have to do with productivity hacking, when Elliot’s an actual hacker?
Well, it turns out, it has quite a fair bit to do with it.
Deliberate Learning, or “Productivity Hacking” as it’s also been dubbed means dedicating at least 5 hours of your week to retaining new information.
Not accessing new information.
Retaining new information.
This is usually accomplished in three ways: Reading, Reflecting and Experimenting.
Here’s exactly how Elliot, a vigilante hacker, deliberately learns (retains new information) at least once a week — although in TV land, a day and a week seem to all mesh into one, so who’s to say. You’ve (albeit cautiously) trusted me so far…
1. Thou shalt Read
Whether it’s reading people’s faces, emotions or between the lines, you have a lot to gain by dedicating at least five hours in your week to reading.
Some people, like Nike founder Phil Knight literally follow this rule by investing in libraries that house mountains of books that they find interesting enough. And once a week, they pay these rooms a visit and deliberately learn something new.
Elliot learns new information about people that he finds strange or interesting by hacking, but the one redeeming quality about this action is that he doesn’t do it with mal-intent. He does it as a way to relate to people better — to understand why people behave the way that they do.
2. Thou shalt Reflect
In Mr. Robot’s sophomore season premiere, Elliot journals every thought that he is having, as he is having it. This moment allows the viewer some incredible insight into how his mind works. We see the dichotomy between Elliot’s juvenile, almost teenage thoughts about simple books like the Bible, to Mr. Robot’s more sinister ideas and his need for self-preservation.
In many instances, self reflection gives you essential information about yourself that you simply would not have access to unless you sat down in silence. This new information, surprising as it may be, will give you many keys to learning.
3. Thou shalt Experiment
Elliot informs us that he has a “perfectly constructed loop” in which he has an almost mind numbing — and I guess that’s the purpose, routine where he does what he perceives “normal” people do daily. With a twist!
He’s living with his strict Mother in an analogue world.
He believes this loop will help him get his impulses in control. He writes, “I am in control” repeatedly in his journal, as if it were some kind of affirmation.
He’s also made a new friend. A guy called Leon, who Elliot likes because Leon himself has just started watching Seinfeld and can spend hours discussing its inconsistencies.
Anyway, the takeaway from this is disrupt your routine.
Get lost! I mean that literally. As in, take a different route to work, or maybe something different for a week. Experiment with new ideas, new concepts and never stay the same.
There’s probably a lot more that we can learn from someone like Elliot about The 5 Hour Rule, but as the series is still unfolding, for now, these lessons are enough to get you started!