When I get an idea in my head that I want to work into my life, I obsess about it for months.
I try it, then try it again, leave it, pick it back up again, and consistently daydream about it until my head hurts. It’s no surprise then that my latest book choice is called ‘Atomic Habits’.
But, this is exactly what happened when I first started reading Robin Sharma’s ‘The 5 am Club.’
The pandemic had just taken hold, I was working a little less than I was used to, and I wanted a new focus. I’d spent months revelling in my daily lie-ins and daytime pyjama parties that it was time for a change. A ‘new me’.
We’ve all been there.
Some of us succeed and some of us spectacularly fail.
We can all do something if we really want to and we put our minds to it — so maybe that’s the problem.
If you asked me do I really want to get up at 5 am every day, I’d tell you absolutely not.
Quite frankly, 5 am is the middle of the stinking night.
I wish it was a little more obvious during the summer months but as soon as it hits winter, it really will be the deepest depths of night-time at that time.
I’m going to be completely honest with you. I still have not made it to the exact time of 5 am, so maybe if I did, I’d have some different insights. But I have made it to 5.30 am — once.
I genuinely want to change my life, but I’m just not convinced that the precise time of 5 am is the way to do it, especially if I haven’t fallen asleep until the early hours.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree with the premise of the book. I believe that we should get up a little earlier and have time to ourselves in what Sharma calls our ‘victory hour’, in order to be more productive throughout the day.
The only problem is his ‘victory hour’ is between the hours of 5 am and 6 am.
That isn’t mine.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but if my victory hour is between 5 am and 6am, what am I supposed to do for the three hours before I begin work? By early afternoon, I’ll be zonked.
I found that when I’ve been getting up at 6 am, I’ve then been starting work at 7.30 am because I’ve done all my me-time bits and it makes sense to then dive into work whilst I’m awake and active.
But that’s not healthy — especially when I make myself available to clients until 6 pm.
So, what’s my solution?
Get up on your terms
If you’ve had a crappy nights sleep, or you’re not feeling too well, stop forcing yourself to get out of bed early. Listen to your body and get up when it feels right. I’m not saying you should laze in bed all day — you’re definitely not going to feel any benefits doing that — but do what feels right for you on any given day. Equally, if you’ve had an early night and feel energetic, get out of bed the minute you wake up and reap the productivity rewards. Life’s about balance after all.
Work around your schedule
If you don’t start work until 9 am, you’re not commuting to work, and you don’t mind mornings, getting up at 6.30 or 7 am is ideal. This way, you’ll get your ‘victory hour’ in and still have plenty of time to eat breakfast and prep for work. If you’re a night owl, schedule in your ‘victory hour’ later in the day — the time when you feel able to do your best work.
Commit to dedicating an hour of ‘me-time’ every day
The most important takeaway from ‘The 5 am Club’ is the 20–20-20 formula; 20 minutes of movement, 20 minutes of reflection and 20 minutes of learning. So for me, this might be 20 minutes of yoga, 20 minutes of journaling, and 20 minutes of reading. Starting the habit is what matters the most, not the time.
Wind down at bed-time
Whether you’re getting up early or not, I’ve found the key to being able to do anything productive the following day is a decent night’s sleep — and that begins with a solid bed-time routine. Get rid of technology an hour before you go to sleep and develop a consistent habit each night of winding down. For me it’s reading my book and then spraying my pillow excessively with pillow mist. Sounds daft until you try it and then you’ll never look back.
We all want to make positive changes in our life but sometimes the advice we receive can feel overwhelming — particularly if it doesn’t fit comfortably into our day.
Stop feeling like you have to be perfect and achieve beyond measure every single day. And if you’re struggling to schedule in your ‘me time’ every day, start with weekly, or even monthly.
Go at your own pace and do what works for you.
“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.” ~ Charles Duhigg