• Anca Petre

How to join the 5am Club? My first week

Last Monday I joined Robin Sharma’s 5am Club. So far, it has been amazing. Do I recommend you do the same? Not necessarily.

More than a group of people waking up at 5am each morning, the 5am Club is in fact a concept, designed to help you improve in many aspects of your life. In its book, The 5am Club, Robin Sharma gives a set of practical tips to « own your morning and elevate your life », in order words, increase your productivity and wellbeing by investing in your morning activities.

“Take excellent care of the front end of your day, and the rest of your day will pretty much take care of itself.” — Robin Sharma, The 5am Club

One of the key concepts introduced by Robin Sharma is the 20/20/20 formula. It gives you a step-by-step guide into how you should organize the first hour of your day: 20 minutes to exercise, 20 minutes to reflect and 20 minutes to grow. Although I wasn’t very convinced that this type of routine would work for me, I decided to try it.

Waking up at 5am each morning. Easier said than done…

A few things you should know about me :

  • I usually wake up around 8am when I have nothing planned in the mornings ;

  • Although I admire those able to rise at 5am, I always thought it wasn’t for me ;

  • I’m not a big fan of exercising despite multiple failed attempts at changing my habits.

Starting my day at 5am with a 20-minute workout seemed way beyond my capacities. But Robin Sharma is quite convincing! After reading his book, I though I would try. How can I say it’s not for me if I haven’t even tried?

I set my alarm at 5am and went to bed at around 9pm. In one of the previous books I read, Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, the author presents strong evidence that we should never sleep less that 5 complete cycles of 1.5 hours which means we shouldn’t sleep less than 7.5 hours each night. If I wanted to wake up at 5am and not compromise on my sleep I had to be in bed by 9pm and sound asleep by 9.30pm. That was the theory. The practice was quite different. It turns out that the sun doesn’t set until after 9.30pm this time of the year and although my room has sun block curtains, I could still see a couple of sun rays pass through which made it really hard to fall asleep. It felt like I was forcing myself to go to bed in the middle of the afternoon. Luckily I had a busy day and by 10.30 I was out.

Adapt the 20/20/20 formula to your needs

I hadn’t slept very well, so when the alarm went off at 5am, I considered giving up on the experiment. But I somehow managed to gather some strength and extract myself from bed. Without much thinking I put on my sports shoes and jumped on my hometrainer for 20 minutes of cycling. At first it felt amazing, I felt energized and fully awake. But after 10 minutes I started to get bored and realized that I should have brought something to listen to. The next morning I picked a Forbes podcast to keep me entertained and inspire me for the rest of the day.

After 20 minutes of cycling, which felt like an eternity, I started the second phase of the 20/20/20 formula: reflect. I use the Calm app that has 10-minute daily meditation programs that I find very easy to follow if you are a beginner like me. I spent 10 minutes meditating and the other 10 minutes eating my breakfast. Meditating after exercising actually felt really good. I was calm, relaxed and in a good mood.

Then came the last 20-minute segment: grow. I decided to go with a personal development and business book although it can be anything else that helps you learn and progress.

And just like that, I had finished my first morning routine.

Think of yourself before thinking of work

Robin Sharma doesn’t suggest you start working straight after you finish the morning routine. In fact, work shouldn’t really start before 8am. So what was I supposed to do for 2 hours?

I decided to follow the book’s advice and do something that would allow me to grow: I signed up for an online computer science class. Despite my best efforts, I have never been able to successfully complete any tech-related online course although it is something I desperately need for my everyday work. So I thought I had nothing to loose to include it in my morning routine and see if this time I would be able to go through with it. 7 days later, I can say that it has worked wonderfully. Not only have I been able to listen to the classes each single morning but I actually really enjoyed it. Much more that when I had tried to squeeze it in the middle of a busy day.

Don’t give up. It takes time to build a habit

After scrupulously following this routine for 7 days, I am definitely ready for another week. I ended up starting work at 7am because I felt my morning routine was complete and I didn’t want to add something else for the sake of adding.

The first half of my day, until lunch, has become incredibly productive. I prepare to-do lists the day before and follow through on most of the important thing I need to do before noon. My concentration is surprisingly high, so much that I rarely get distracted by my phone anymore. In fact, the time I spend on my phone has dropped by 43%. I use it for work-related things and don’t spend as much time scrolling through social media or watching youtube videos. I feel like I have other things to do that give me more satisfaction.

By increasing the productivity in the first half of my day, I don’t feel like I need, nor want, to work late. When I can, I stop work at 5pm but some days I go up to 7pm. After work is over, its time for diner and the night routine but I don’t have that bit very well figured out yet. Getting to bed is still pretty hard and I feel tired in the afternoon. Hopefully it will passed when I get used to the routine.

So, here I am. End of week 1, beginning of week 2. So far my biggest struggle has been falling asleep at night and because of that, I feel sleepy in the afternoons. I am curious to see if this will improve during week 2 and if the benefits I felt in week 1 will persist.

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