How you spend your time each day determines how your life unfolds. It determines, among other things, whether you end up rich or poor.

A researcher has looked at how the rich spend their time, and it’s only 4 hours each day that set the rich apart from other people.

The rest of the day, the rich and poor spend their time on more or less the same activities: sleeping, eating, commuting, working, and being with their family.

If it’s only a matter of 240 minutes that sets the rich apart from everyone else, what happens during those minutes?

Five habits unfold during that daily slot, says Thomas Corley, who has written the books Rich Habits and Change Your Habits, Change Your Life.

These are the five habits that set the self-made rich apart from everyone else. How would your life unfold if you developed these habits?

Here they are:

1. They Take Action Every Day to Pursue Dreams (1 hour)

We all have dreams.

The difference is whether we do something to make them a reality.

Rich people are constantly working on making their dreams come true. They spend at least 60 minutes every day taking concrete action that gets them a step closer to where they want to be.

Other people also have dreams, but many shake them off as being unrealistic or too hard to achieve. Some are simply too complacent to do the work.

The rich do the work.

But not only that.

They do the work very consistently every single day of their lives.

Day in and day out.

They understand the cumulative power of daily habits.

2. They Study and Learn Every Day (1 hour) 

They make sure to become better. Every day.

They study, learn, and practice. Every day.

The subject will differ, of course.

If your dream is to become a successful businessman, it could be working towards an MBA.

If your dream is to become financially independent, it could be taking a course in investing or reading new investment books.

The rich spend at least 60 minutes every day getting a little better at their profession or lucrative hobby.

The rich are not stingy when it comes to education.

They know that knowledge is crucial and that it must be prioritized. They are ready to pay to get the knowledge they need.

We all hit a plateau when we are learning something new, and we can be on that plateau for quite some time unless we make sure we get help from someone who is a step ahead of us and who can pull us up.

The rich are good at taking quantum leaps because they prioritize learning from someone who can help them learn faster.

If you are aware that you only have one hour a day to study, then you know that your time is precious, and you won’t spend it scouting for free information in YouTube videos.

3. They Take Care of Their Health (30 min.)

They spend at least 30 minutes a day on some form of sport or activity that keeps them in shape.

What does health have to do with wealth?

The body is your house. Good health is the foundation upon which everything else is built. Without good health, there is not much to build a rich life on.

When you stay in shape, the following happens:

  • You improve your mental acuity.
  • You prevent lifestyle diseases (it’s harder to make money if you get sick).
  • You prevent stress and burnout.

4. They Nourish Rich Relationships (30 min.)

They spend at least 30 minutes each day nurturing important friendships and relationships.

They don’t spread their attention to random people like the stranger in the pub.

They carefully prioritize the ones they want to dedicate their attention to.

As a wise coach once said to me: Friendships and relationships need to be selected just as carefully as stocks.

Invest your time in the best relationships.

So what activities do rich people spend those 30 minutes on?

  • They participate in professional networks.
  • They meet in person to catch up.
  • They make a call to a friend to hear how it’s going.
  • They celebrate milestones such as anniversaries and birthdays.

There are plenty of other ways to nurture relationships. The value investor Guy Spier writes thank-you letters to people in his network every single day. He spends time writing down what he appreciates and what they have done that he is grateful for.

He says it has a cumulative effect as the results of his letter writing come back in surprising ways.

He also says it’s been the best investment of his life – and it doesn’t cost anything.

5. They Engage in Relaxing Activities    

Like everyone else, they also need to relax and wind down.

What that activity is differs. For some it might be reading a fiction book, for some it might be drinking tea and knitting, for some it might be watching a TV show.

The difference between the rich and many others is that the rich do it for a maximum of one hour.

Many others could spend all four hours of “free” time on Netflix.

They Have a Daily Routine

We all sometimes fall into the New Year Resolutions trap.

That’s when we decide with a serious attitude that we’ll change our lives starting tomorrow.

It’s when we decide that next year we’ll run Boston Marathon in less than 3 hours – even though we haven’t built a strong running habit yet. It’s when buy an expensive pair of running shoes, but when the weather changes, we postpone the daily run, and before we know it, the habit fades away.

What you actually need to look at is the micro habit. You need to decide that every morning you’ll put on running shoes first thing. Just that. The micro habit of choosing the right shoes.

The rich are really good at building daily micro habits, so they get to spend time every day on pursuing their dream, learning new things, staying in shape, nurturing rich relationships, and winding down in a healthy way.

It’s all about building the habit so you don’t have an internal debate about running, studying, or calling your best friend.

It becomes just as automatic as brushing your teeth.

The running shoes almost tie themselves on your feet.

Is there one micro habit that you can build today to free yourself in the future?

Don’t forget to download my e-book Free Yourself where you’ll learn to invest as one of the best – super charge yourself through the plateaus. You can download it here.