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The 5 AM Club: Mastering Early Productivity

Do you always feel like your chances for personal time are getting squeezed out? Robin Sharma's "The 5 AM Club" might be the game-changer you need

The 5 AM Club: Mastering Early Productivity

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Do you always feel like your chances for personal time are getting squeezed out? Robin Sharma's "The 5 AM Club" might be the game-changer you need. This popular self-help strategy is refreshingly simple: Rise and shine at 5 AM to carve out time for those self-care activities you've been neglecting.

You'll easily unlock those quiet, distraction-free morning hours by waking up early every day. That means you can finally tackle that exercise routine, get lost in a great read or find your center through meditation. You'll have time to enjoy the blissful silence before the world (and your inbox) wakes up and the kids start their daily circus before the bus arrives.

The 5 AM Club approach can be especially beneficial for busy parents who often struggle to find personal time in their hectic day-to-day. To help you kickstart this new routine, we've consulted a range of experts for their top tips on getting started.

What is "The 5 AM Club"?

Robin Sharma, a Canadian author and speaker, introduced the concept of "The 5 AM Club" in his bestselling self-help book, which has been translated into 92 languages and dialects. The core message? Rising early could be your key to self-care and success.

However, The 5 AM Club concept isn't just reserved for high-powered executives. According to Dr. Shelby Harris, a licensed clinical psychologist, clinical associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and director of Sleep Health at Sleepopolis, it can also benefit parents struggling to find opportunities for personal time.

She explains, "For parents, it's a way to carve out focused time before the chaos of the day starts. This can help parents boost personal growth and productivity by allowing for self-care and goal-setting before family duties kick in."

Summary of "The 5 AM Club" book 

The 5 AM Club" is a 336-page book that presents its core concept through the story of three fictional characters. At its heart, however, the book's main idea is straightforward: the secret behind many successful people is waking up at 5 AM every day.

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One of the key ideas in this book is the 20/20/20 formula. This involves dividing the first hour of your day (from 5 AM to 6 AM) into three segments that are 20 minutes long, each focused on a specific activity.

Harris explains, "This can include exercise, meditation, prayer or learning something new. It's about starting the day with intention and setting yourself up for success by focusing on what matters most to you. Plus, it's a chance to pursue your goals without interruptions."

Another crucial concept in the book is that of the four interior empires: mindset, heartset, healthset and soulset. According to Sharma, by dedicating the first hour of each day to activities that strengthen these aspects, individuals can significantly enhance their personal development and overall happiness.

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How "The 5 AM Club" can benefit parents

Increased productivity, focus and personal growth 

Aside from more personal time, Harris believes that waking up early at 5 AM rewards parents with increased productivity, focus and personal growth. "This routine can help parents get more things done efficiently and stay on track with both family responsibilities and personal goals," she says. "Giving parents time to focus on themselves before the busy day starts can make a big difference."

Modelling good behaviour 

Another perk of the 5 AM Club is that it sets a good example for your kids. According to Harris, "When you show your children that you are committed to growing personally and beginning the early mornings with intention, you are teaching them valuable principles about self-control and looking after themselves. This can establish a positive environment for your whole family."

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Additionally, The 5 AM also teaches your child the importance of self-care. Chanel Dokun, a certified life planner and relationship expert specializing in marriage and family therapy, explains, "By showing them this effective self-care routine, you're giving them a firsthand look at the kind of habits that build resilience and emotional strength in successful individuals."

Better focus and patience

Starting your day with a sense of accomplishment and mental clarity equips you with the tools needed to approach family time with increased patience and focus.

As Harris says, "When you begin your day feeling productive and clear-headed, it sets a positive tone that can carry through to your family interactions." This helps create a foundation for better engagement with loved ones throughout the day, potentially leading to more meaningful and harmonious family experiences."

Implementing "The 5 AM Club" strategies 

Start small

Getting up early every morning might seem scary at first.  That's why Rosanne Zeisel, MPA, NBC-HWC, a mental health coach at Headspace, suggests taking small steps when beginning the 5 AM Club.

She advises starting by waking up just 15 minutes earlier than usual. "You can use this extra time to try simple activities like breathing exercises for five minutes or reading something enjoyable while having your morning coffee," she says.

Habit stack

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Once you've eased into waking up early, Zeisel recommends habit stacking, which is when you link a habit you want to build to a habit you've already built. "For example, brushing your teeth in the morning is likely a habit you already have ingrained," she says. "If you'd like to add in a gratitude practice, you could use the time brushing your teeth to think about what you are grateful for."

Don't try to do it all

The 5 AM Club can give you extra time for yourself but don't think you must do it perfectly every day. Zeisel says you can try different ideas from the book and choose what suits you best. Your morning routine doesn't need to be the same every day. "The key is to find what works for you and be flexible."

Make it easy

Zeisel advises preparing in advance to make things easier when planning your personal activities. She explains, "For example, if you plan to read in the morning, place your book near your bed the night before. If you intend to exercise, lay out your workout clothes and decide what type of exercise you will do beforehand. By making these decisions ahead of time, you reduce the number of choices you have to make in the moment, making it simpler to get started."

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The 5 AM Club in real life 

Christine Landis, former CEO of a global fintech company, current founder of Peacock Parent Inc. and a mother of two, believes the 5 AM Club idea is effective.

She says that while it might feel addictive at first, the key is to keep waking up early for a whole month. "I started by waking up at 5 AM from Tuesday to Friday, so Monday felt like a gentle start to the week, and I treated myself to an extra hour of sleep," Landis explains. "Weekends were optional, but I often chose to wake up early on at least one weekend day because it felt so rewarding. At least four days a week, I wake up at 5 AM because it's guaranteed time for myself."

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Landis says you can spend this personal time however you like. "I spend the first 15 minutes putting in my contacts, making coffee, taking vitamins, feeding the dog, and getting settled. That leaves 45 minutes for pure joy, on my terms."

However, she advises against using this time for chores. "Don't start the laundry, empty the dishwasher, clean the kitchen counter or tidy up. That's not the point of this time," Landis says. "You're not awake to 'do' things but to 'be,' and your kids, partner, and even work colleagues will notice a positive change in your energy."

Downsides Of "The 5 AM Club"

The 5 AM Club can be good for parents who want some self-care time. But Zack Goldman, LCSW, a clinical social worker and therapist, warns that it can have downsides, especially affecting sleep quality.

"If parents don't go to bed earlier or nap during the day, waking up at 5 AM can be harmful," Goldman says. "Lack of sleep can lead to health problems like cognitive issues, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, a weak immune system, and metabolic issues."

To ensure enough sleep, Goldman advises going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. He also recommends creating a calming bedtime routine, avoiding screens an hour before bed, exercising daily, and making your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.

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However, Harris emphasizes listening to your body. "If 5 AM is too early, find a wake-up time that keeps you productive and well-rested," she says.

woman drinking coffee LaylaBird / Getty Images

FAQs

How can single parents benefit from joining the 5 AM club?

Kristin M. Papa, a licensed clinical social worker and certified health and wellness coach, suggests that the 5 AM club concept can work for single parents. However, she advises parents to be gentle with themselves and set reasonable expectations about when they can actually start their day.

"The 5 AM Club is meant to help parents focus on personal growth, and 5 AM might be the most convenient time as children are usually asleep," she explains. "However, single parents should choose the best time for themselves — whether it's the 8 PM Club or the 6 AM Club — and still follow the club's principles to enjoy the perks."

How can parents get their partner involved in the 5 AM Club routine for more support? 

Papa recommends that parents include their partners in the 5 AM Club routine. This way, they can lean on their partner for support and encouragement.

"When we share our plans and goals with others, we tend to stay more motivated than when we keep them private," she says. "Also, requesting your partner to care for the children if they wake up early can ensure an uninterrupted hour."

What are some recommended activities to kickstart your day at 5 AM?

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To stick to the 5 AM club idea, Papa recommends choosing activities that excite you, whether it's immersing yourself in breathing exercises or getting creative with painting or knitting.

She also suggests mixing things up in your morning routine as part of the 5 AM Club to keep things interesting. "For example, during the colder months, you could kick off your day with some yoga and journaling, followed by indulging in a book on a subject you love," she explains. "When summer rolls around, consider starting with an energizing walk or run, incorporating meditation and stretching and wrapping up by jotting down your goals and aspirations."

Are there alternatives to the 5 AM Club for parents who aren't morning people?

If you struggle to wake up early and never get out of bed before 8 AM, trying to wake up at 5 AM might be too difficult and lead to disappointment. Instead, Papa says it's better to choose a wake-up time that suits you. "Even if you start your day at 8 AM, you can still benefit from spending the first hour on exercise, thinking, and personal development," she explains.

Experts: 

  • Dr. Shelby Harris, a licensed clinical psychologist, clinical associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of Sleep Health at Sleepopolis
  • Kristin M. Papa, a licensed clinical social worker and certified health and wellness coach
  • Zack Goldman, LCSW, a clinical social work/therapist and founder of Solid Ground Psychotherapy
  • Chanel Dokun, certified life planner and relationship expert trained in marriage and family therapy
  • Christine Landis, former CEO of a global fintech company, a parent of two children and current founder of Peacock Parent Inc.
  • Rosanne Zeisel, MPA, NBC-HWC, a mental health coach at Headspace

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Courtney Leiva has over 11 years of experience producing content for numerous digital mediums, including features, breaking news stories, e-commerce buying guides, trends, and evergreen pieces. Her articles have been featured in HuffPost, Buzzfeed, PEOPLE, and more.

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