26 November 2022

The 5am club is an interesting book about getting up early.

I have to admit I am not that into self help/productivity books as they have started to all sound very similar. The seem to focus on getting a lot of shallow items done rather than carving out time for deep focus. It probably helps many but for someone who likes to work on complex tasks their appeal is limited.

As most have noticed getting up early lets you get more done. Mostly because you get to choose what to work on before the day truly get going. I thought I would read a book to see deeper discussion on the topic.

To my surprise the book uses a fictional story to present the ideas. The story is slightly predictable and suffers a bit from having to weave in the self help topics. It does hold together in one coherent piece.

It doesn't take long to read and includes some great historic quotes.

If I rise early I usually use the time to get on with things, instead the book argues that you should use the first hour first to focus on yourself. Some brain awakening vigorous exercise should be followed what I tend to think of as mental health self care. Meditation, journaling, yoga and writing down 5 things you would like to get done today.

The last section of the hour should be learning. Podcasts, books, and so on.

A 20 minute split on each of them is suggested but apart from exercise being the first thing you should do and unskippable it advocates being flexible. A 20 minute split on learning does mean light learning as I think you would struggle to get into anything deep and you obviously cannot do all the things I mentioned in the the mental health self care section each day so pick just one or two.

After 6am you should start your most important project and do a 90 minute stint on it. A structure is suggested for the rest of the day but if you have an office job some of it may be difficult to stick to. Again a figure out what works is suggested.

Being ready to do things at 5am means getting up at 4:45am. Getting to sleep between 9 to 10pm should ensure enough sleep dependant on your needs but may be a hard sell to the night owls. I suspect it is worth it as you will be progressing on the most important project much earlier in the day when you brain is very fresh. Apparently.

I am often able to do things productive until midnight but that is only when I get all the variable perfect, so not all the time. The collection of techniques presented may give a more consistent way to have my brain at it's best. It may also help with the pointing in the right direction issues I have been having recently.

Figuring out if it will work within my constraints was difficult so I have not actually tried it yet but I think it would fit my lifestyle if I adjust a few things around. There is something nice about having done a lot of stuff before most people rise.

A factor mentioned in the book is if you try it do it then try a period of at least 60 days without fail. That's quite a big ask but needed to form the habit of rising early. This makes me slightly wary of trying it until I am in the right frame of mind. I think I may try it in the new year.

The author is from the USA so the language and parts of the book are a little too enthusiastic for my English sensibilities. You have been warned.

Perhaps my favourite quote from the book is Think of your past as a servant that shaped the present you but it may not be the best friend to take with you into the future. OK that's not the exact quote as I don't have the book with me as I write this but I hope you get the idea.