"Take excellent care of the front end of your day, and the rest of the day will pretty much take care of itself. Own your morning, elevate your life."

For most of us, waking up at 5am sounds very unappealing. We would rather spend more time rolling around in the comfort of our bed in the mornings, and not have to force ourselves to get ourselves up and running during the wee hours of the morning. It can be hard to break your routine and get used to waking up at a different time, but choosing mind over mattress has its benefits.

Photo by Jodie Cook / Unsplash

Robin Sharma posits that waking up early is the key to success. He takes readers through the belief that waking up early is the key to productivity and success in his book.

What Is The 5am Club?

The "5 AM club" is a concept coined by Robin Sharma, in in his book "The 5AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life."

This concept outlines a time management code, where you wake up at 5 AM to execute a twenty-minutes exercise, twenty-minutes planning and twenty-minutes study morning routine to start your day.

Photo by bruce mars / Unsplash

The rationale behind waking up at 5 am in the morning lies in not being distracted and as a result, being more productive. At this hour, most people are not awake. There is nothing going on on social media, your devices are most probably not constantly buzzing, and work does not start until another few hours. This solitude allows you to really just accomplish what you set out to do.

Robin Sharma outlines 4 key concepts that would allow you to successfully join the 5AM club and win in the morning:

  1. The Victory Hour
  2. Habit Protocol
  3. The 4 Focuses
  4. 10 Tactics

The Victory Hour

Waking up at 5am would be no good if you waste time until 7am or 8am not doing anything productive.

Sharma presents a planned 20-20-20 structure for the hour between 5am and 6am. He assures that if one nails this hour, everything else in the day would have an easier time falling in place. During this "victory" hour, the 20-20-20 structure breaks down the hour into 3 phases.

The first phase from 5am to 5:20am is about moving. This can be a quick cardio workout, yoga, or a brisk walk, and the point is to get your heart rate up, for you to sweat, and your body to release cortisol upon waking up. This 20min morning exercise gets you into the perfect cognitive state to take on the rest of the day.

The second phase, 5:20am to 5:40am, is for you to reflect. Use this time to write down what you need to accomplish in the day, or journal about what is on your mind or troubling you. This block is all about focusing and thinking clearly.

Morning coffee and alarm clock
Photo by Jessica Delp / Unsplash

The last part, 5:40am to 6am, is time for you to focus on learning. Read a book, listen to a podcast about something that interests you, and get your brain kick started to keep yourself in a focused state for the rest of the day.

Sharma also reiterates that the 20-20-20 breakdown of the first hour is not a hard and fast rule, so there is no need to pressure yourself to stick to this strictly. You can swap around the timings and customize the timings to your personality and needs.

Habit Protocol

Habit creation and cultivation comes with a significant amount of will-power and consistency. You will need them to get them started, and eventually make these habits more make them automatic as well. With consistency, healthy habits would then become a part of your routine and lifestyle.

Turning new habits into a lifestyle and cementing them can be done with being intentional about the what's, why's and how's of these habits. Intention can be inculcated by keeping track of your milestones and progress with a habit tracker, or by reflecting on how you feel throughout this period of change in a diary; both tools that can be found in one place on Journey.

Journey's Habit Tracker allows you to take note of your daily routine and add tags to organize them.
Journey's Habit Tracker allows you to take note of your daily routine and add tags to organize them.

Habit trackers can be used to mark off the days you've stuck to your plans and to your goals, and having a personal diary can provide you a space to reflect and recalibrate whenever need be when you set foot on a transformative path.

The Habit Tracker template allows you to plan and track your daily habits efficiently.
The Habit Tracker template allows you to plan and track your daily habits efficiently.

We may not know exactly how long it will take for us to develop a habit, but it is key to remember that habits are not a finish line to cross but a lifestyle to live.

The 4 Focuses

1. Capitalization Focus

Sharma explains that we all have gifts that we are born with and that would come naturally to us if we allow them to. But he also mentioned that we must search for them and cultivate them. This does not happen automatically, but the benefits of finding things that we are naturally good at and enjoy, and spending time to develop these skills and talents would being more satisfaction to your life.

2. Eliminating distractions

In a world of social media, it is easy to be distracted. Having your devices constantly buzzing with notifications and giving in to temporary gratifications takes focus away from the things that you would add value to your life and help you grow. If you master being able to eliminate these and focus on just few things at a time, you can

3. Personal mastery

This refers to the need to acknowledge that you will always be a work in progress, and that you will never be perfect. Sharma recommends that we focus on the 4 interior empires to attain personal mastery : mindset which is self-talk, heart set which is your emotions,  health set which is your physical fitness, and soul set, which is contemplation and meditation about who you are.

4. Day stacking

This refers to your "victory" hour coming into play, and focusing on making each day count, and making it better than the previous one, habits and consistently will work and not short

10 Tactics For Lifelong Changes

Together with the above 3 concepts that make joining the 5AM club valuable, Robin Sharma also outlines 10 key tips and steps you can take for making lasting, lifelong changes:

1. Create a tight bubble of focus

Find a creative place to work that allows productivity and creativity; place free of distractions, with no negative energy, and thus makes focus easy.

2. The 90-90-1 rule

Spend 90mins each across the next 90 days on the single most important project of your life to allow it enough time.

3. The 60-10 method

After the 90mins is spent on the important project, break the rest of the day into 60mins of work and 10minsof relaxion chucks.

4. The Daily 5

List out the 5 things you can achieve each day. Make sure to write them down and cross them off once you complete them.

5. The 2nd Wind Workout

When your workday is complete, spend about 30min to 1hr completing a second workout to catch the 2nd wind.

6. Two massages

Schedule 2 massages a week for proper relaxation. If this is too much or you don't like massages, schedule 2 activities a week that you enjoy outside your schedule.

7. Traffic university

If you commute, use this time for podcasts or audio books rather than radio chatter and idle chit chat.

8. The Dream Team

Find, build or create a team of people that can help you complete tasks that don't need your specific attention.

9. Weekly Design System

Spend some time on Sunday giving your work week a general outline with the above 8 and chores, errands, and meetings.

10. Daily Learning

Spend at least 60mins each day learning and challenging your brain to learn something new.

Photo by 2H Media / Unsplash

Benefits of Joining the 5AM Club

The quiet time and alone time that comes from getting up at 5 AM has many benefits.

People have limited cognitive bandwidth. As the day goes along, we reach our limit and therefore become less focused. The idea to start your day at 5 AM is to allow focus on one high-value activity without your brain getting distracted.

Some of the benefits that come along with getting a kick-start during this period include:

  • It correlates to with better quality of grades or work
  • It pushes you to maintain a healthy diet with a consistent breakfast timing
  • It enhances your productivity as there are less distractions early in the morning
  • Assists with better mental health by eliminating the stress of rushing for time in the morning
  • Gives you more time and energy to fit in some exercise
  • Improves the quality of your sleep by putting you in more of a consistent routine of sleeping and waking up at the same time

Practical Ways To Prepare For The 5AM Club

Appreciating the concept is one thing, but actually being able to pull yourself out of bed at 5 am everyday can be challenging. Here are some practical steps you can take to become part of the 5 AM Club, and start making positive changes in your life.

1. Start off by waking up just 30mins earlier each day.

In the mornings, you most definitely will dread getting out of bed without enough sleep. Adopting Sharma's 20/20/20s routine will only use an hour of your time. If you weren’t getting up at 6 am before, you’d be left with additional free time and potentially not know what to do. Inversely, doing this might be setting yourself up for failure as you fall out of the belief in the idea of being part of the 5 AM Club before you even get to meaningfully experience it.

Instead of forcing yourself to wake up at 5 am tomorrow, you could consider easing into the new routine by waking up 30 minutes earlier every few days to give yourself time to adjust and consider the most valuable ways to spend your free time each morning.

2. Sleep slightly earlier every night.

The other major transition in your daily routine is having to clock in your seven hours of sleep each night. Working backwards, you need to go to bed at 10 pm if you still want to have enough sleep every day. Forcing yourself to wake up at 5 am each morning would very likely mean not having sufficient sleep the night before as well as sacrificing a large part of your “winding down” time. Even if you went to bed early, your body clock may keep you awake in bed.

Similar to waking up just 30 minutes earlier each morning, head to bed earlier each night. Denying your body enough sleep could be worse than any benefit you may get from waking up at 5 am each day to accomplish what you set your mind to.

3. Have purpose.

Often, if you don’t have enough or the right motivation to stick to doing the tasks you’ve set out to do on a daily basis, you would abandon it. This requires you to carefully think ahead, about more than just the task you want to complete in each of the 20-minute slots each morning.

Photo by Olena Sergienko / Unsplash

Establish a vision for what you want to achieve with each of the things you do in the 20-minute spells. Ask yourself “what’s your why?”. This could be about wanting to live healthier or increasing your energy levels to spend equal amounts of time on the different areas of your life. The tasks that you do during your "victory hour" and after should contribute towards achieving your grand vision in the long run.

4. Modify the advice to suit your lifestyle.

The 20/20/20 rule of spending an hour at 5 am is one person’s recommendation. If it doesn’t seem to be working for you, you can modify it to suit your preference or needs.

If you don’t get up at 5 am, you could simply get up at 6 am or 7 am. If spending 20 minutes on exercise, planning for your future or learning a skill is too short, there’s nothing to stop you from spending 40 minutes or an hour on an activity. There’s no rule about how you can use your time to improve your lifestyle. If you think this time is best served working out or planning with your partner, then rope in the other person. This way, there’s another person to motivate you to wake up earlier every day.

Doing what serves you best and gives you the most of your time is the greatest motivation that will keep you waking up earlier and help you stay the course to improve your life.

Summarizing Robin Sharma's 5AM club and what it can do for your life,

  1. It establishes a regular wake-up time of 5am to ensure a productive start to the day.
  2. It gives you time to set specific goals during the 20 minutes you have to plan, to be achieved by the end of the day.
  3. It allows you to utilize extra time to focus on personal development and growth during the 20 minutes learning phase.
  4. It allows you to take advantage of the quietness of the early morning to practice mindfulness and meditation.
  5. It pushes you to make a commitment to the 5am club and hold yourself accountable for achieving your goals.

Proper and consistent time-management, having the will to work towards healthy productivity, and being committed to self-care at the same time can be a lot to ask for. If you manage to successfully join the 5AM club, the extra time can help you strike a balance between these and allow you to reap the benefit of being an early-riser. With more time on your hands, giving importance to your physical fitness, your hunger to learn, and setting time aside to plan ahead, you can be happy and productive at the same time.

Here's to being the healthiest, happiest, and most successful version of yourself!