Since I’ve read some of his best selling books including The Monk who sold his Ferrari and The Greatness Guides (Part 1 AND 2), I’ve been following Robin Sharma – in his newsletters, he talked about this upcoming book talking about the 5 AM club. Honestly, I was expecting something like the Greatness Guide – short chapters of great advice around how waking up at 5 AM has changed and transformed people’s lives but I was happily surprised to see that the book is written in one of my favourite genres – a parable where he slowly doles out advice to the protagonists (and the reader). The story starts off with an entrepreneur who is having trouble with her companies and she goes to this conference after thinking about ending her life several times – in short, she has lost her way and trying to re-discover the joy of living life – perhaps something that we can all identify with in some way or another.
Throughout the book, the entrepreneur is taken on an adventure where she slowly learns about the 5 AM club philosophy and the specific tactics and strategies to take full advantage of waking up at 5 AM (and probably some of the best content in the book was around the specifics of what a day waking up at 5 AM would look like). While I cannot honestly say that any of the content in the book was revolutionary or new to me, I can shamefully admit that a lot of these practices are things I know I should be doing but haven’t quite implemented in my life — with that, here are some of the things that I want to do more of in my life.
Waking up early
I have a hard time waking up early although I do find it easier when I travel (either for work or pleasure) – perhaps because there’s fewer things to do in the morning such as making breakfast, making sure that I get to the bus on time, etc. Waking up early is a keystone habit – it’s a habit in which many other great things in your life will fall into place as a result of waking up early – things such as developing willpower and discipline, having time for exercise, reflection and planning your day, and being able to concentrate on your biggest tasks for the day early on when your willpower is at its highest.
Having technology-free time zones in your life
If you’ve ever left home without your smartphone and had to race back, you probably realized that you are more tied to your smartphone than you should be. About a few months ago, I installed an app to see how much time I was spending on my various screens and the numbers were shocking – a few hours every day on my smartphone or various devices which is time I could be spending writing, reading, exercising or other self development activities. The book describes the perfect day as having five or more hours of technology-free time zones in your life – a few hours in the morning after you wake up and a few hours at night just before bed. This is something that I have tried to do in the past unsuccessfully given that my smartphone is also my alarm clock but I’m starting to think that there’s something to going technology free for a few hours – it helps you connect with others better and it means that you can concentrate on tasks more fully.
Applying dedicated focus towards the tasks that make you, you
In Brendon’s book High Performance Habits and in Cal Newport’s book Deep Work, they both espouse the idea that high performers focus on the outputs that make them the best. Robin talks about this concept of 60/10 and 90/90/1 – that is, focus on an activity for 60 minutes and then rest for 10 minutes and another idea of spending your first 90 minutes, for 90 days, on one single goal or objective (whether it’s writing a book or launching a business). These two, in combination, will help you get into the habit of focusing on the important tasks (and not just doing busy work for the sake of doing work).
Exercise twice a day?
If exercise has that many benefits and it works so well for world class performers first thing in the morning, why not do it twice a day? You can beat that afternoon / evening dip and get additional energy going into the evening. What Robin is saying here is not getting in an intense workout like in the morning but going for a walk, yoga or a light swim (light exercise) as your second exercise activity. I know when I exercise twice a day, I am left exhausted at night but I feel really great the next day (although I wouldn’t suggest to be like me in doing two intense work outs on the same day a few hours apart).
Exercise, reflect and grow – in that order
Between 5 AM and 6 AM, Robin suggests putting into practice the 20/20/20 concept – that is, spend 20 minutes doing an intense work out – this helps you get your energy going, improves your health and gets you sweating, then spend 20 minutes to journal and reflect – really to get into the habit of writing and getting your emotions, thoughts and feelings down on paper, and finally, the final 20 minutes to grow – write down what you have to do for that day, read, listen to an audiobook, whatever it is that can help you grow.
The 60 minute student
This tactic of world class performers is about developing a habit of devoting 60 minutes every single day into learning something new – it can really be anything – a new language, reading a book, taking a course but devoting that time every single day will make you grow leaps and bounds, especially over those that aren’t taking the time to learn and grow every day. I myself don’t devote 60 minutes but I do try to devote as much time as I can into reading among various other things that I do – the reading is unfortunately sporadic (waiting in line for things, waiting at restaurants, etc.) but it makes me think that I need to carve out some more time, and to focus on a singular objective to get ahead.
It all starts with waking up at 5 AM ! As the book says, own your morning, elevate your life! How do you get up so early? Sleep early and keep on doing it. I like one of the quotes in the book which says “all change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end”.
About the author:
Wang is a management consultant, self-published author, Distinguished Toastmaster, co-host of a podcast, Udemy teacher, former Uber driver and all around hustler. He is also obsessed about books and he reads books so that you don’t have to. Want a list of Wang’s top ten formative books in his life and career? Interested in book summaries and recommendations every month? Subscribe to Wang’s e-mail newsletter!