5am Club One Week In

May 7th, 2020

Last week I sort of joined the 5 AM Club. The term "5 AM Club" is coined by Robin Sharma, the basic concept being to wake up at 5 AM and do twenty minutes of exercise, twenty minutes of planning and twenty minutes of study.

It is better known as the 20/20/20 structure, based on the routine of getting up early to maximise productivity and kickstart a healthy regime. This exceptional morning routine is often reserved for top-performing leaders, vampires and deities but as a mere mortal, I wanted to give it a shot. Would getting up before 5 AM every morning by choice convert me into a true leader and millionaire? There was only one way to find out.

I did modify the 20/20/20 structure a little, in that I don't do it. For exercise, I'd rather go out on a 5km run and the planning bit is typically done the day before when I wrap up work for the day. This is more a 5 AM Free Pass than the exclusive club. This is only 1 week in and I've committed to 30 days, but already I can tell this morning lifestyle is suited to me.


My 5 AM morning routine is pretty simple. For the last 7 days, it has pretty much gone like this.

  1. Apple Watch alarm goes off at 4:50 am. I do NOT press snooze
  2. Get out of bed immediately when the alarm goes off.
  3. Drink a pint of cold water
  4. Do 100 press-ups (can't do them all at once right now)
  5. Sit down and do a Headspace exercise for 5 minutes
  6. Commence 1 hour of coding or writing
  7. My dog comes through to annoy me at 6:30 am
  8. Do as much coding or writing until 7:30 am before taking Fionn for a longer walk
  9. Commence workday around 9:00 am

Are you not tired?

By 8:30 pm, yes I am tired but not in the morning. Once you're up, you're up. I drink my water and start with press-ups, after that I've got a warm cup of coffee and the caffeine is beginning to flow. I can't vouch for winter, but right now it is bright by 5:30 am so my body feels awake. You would be surprised at your alertness this time in the morning. When do you go to bed? About 10:00 pm, winding down by around 9:30 pm. The only change here is that I was getting up about 8 hours of sleep compared to the avg 7 hours I'm getting now. Taking the 30 minutes to wind down and not having a phone in the bedroom means I fall asleep pretty quickly.

Does it feel good?

In June last year, Kate and I spend most of our honeymoon waking up before 5 am, particularly for the first 14 days. It was likely time zone adjustments, but something was liberating about getting up before 5:00 am, doing your daily exercise and sipping on your first coffee before 7:00 am. It also meant we maximised our day and got to experience more of each city we visited. It felt good. I remind myself of this daily at the moment. We seized the day back in June last year and there is no reason I can't be doing that every day here in Edinburgh. It feels good to know that by 7:30 am each day, I've pretty much completed all my daily habits, and everything else on top of that is either work or a bonus personal task.

Is it worth it?

Yes, 100%. I'm already understanding the power of having that one extra hour every day to focus on myself, interruption-free. This isn't about the 20/20/20 ritual Robin Sharma suggests. This is my routine for transmitting what is in my head, on to digital format in the form of writing and code. I've created my own 'Power Hour'. I think it is important to use this time for yourself. That means no work, emails or social media. Try and resist your phone as much as possible during this time, and concentrate on the task at hand. It is worth a try. If your schedule allows it, try it for 3 days. Plan the night before and wake up with intent and see where it gets you.