The art of getting things done – The 5AM club

Wakeup, Exercise, Reflect, Learn

I got into this routine almost by accident but then I read Robin Sharma, the 5am club and the book really resonated with me. Getting things done, starts with a focused individual who is ready to deal with whatever the day holds. There is a tendency of modern life and especially modern projects to stress and over analyse things. The premise of the book is that the first and the last hour of the day are key to achieving better productivity and success in your chosen field.

20 / 20 / 20 rule

If you spend the first hour of the day getting your mind, body and soul in the right place you will have a successful day. This is characterised as the 20:20:20 rule.

Exercise

Body: The first 20 minutes of the day should start with some vigorous exercise that makes you sweat. When you sweat you not only stimulate your body but you get rid of cortisol which produces stress and anxiety. Sweat also stimulates your brain to repair its brain cells. Early in the morning is the best time to do this and though this is hard at first once you have exercised you get a release of dopamine and serotonin in your body that stimulates your body ready for the day.

Reflect

Soul: The next 20 minutes should be spent reflecting and meditating on your day. This could be simply looking at your schedule for the week or your life goal and reflecting on where you are going. If you have religious beliefs this is a perfect time to reflect on spiritual truths and wisdom. I find that as I exercise my brain gets to work and I start to think about problems and situations and where I am going with different projects it really helps my mind to be ready to face the day and know what should be the priority for this new day.

Learn

Mind: The last 20 minutes of the routine now that you body and spirit are ready for the day is self improvement. It is important to improve yourself by being a continual learner. Or if you are creative this might be the best time to do your greatest work. It enables you to get in the flow and be more focused and more productive for the entire day. Consider reading the biography of someone who inspires you. I really enjoy using Blinklist which summaries a book into 15-20 min easily digestible audible solution or text that can be read on a Kindle.

Trying this simple schedule for a few weeks will start to develop a good routine that will become a healthy habit. If you want to have exceptional results then you need to do what 95% of people are not willing to do.

Day stacking

A big part of the battle is to be persistent and self disciplined in your routines. This persistent confidence in your abilities allows you to capitalise on your talents incrementally and achieve mastery. You need to invest 2.7hour of daily practice in a skill for 10 year before showing any mastery in the skill.

Small things done daily are more important than big things done once in a while

Another benefit of getting up early is that you are free from distraction. Cut out addictive and unhelpful social media. Cancel pointless meetings. Gain a distraction free morning.

Reap the benefits.

All this will then have benefits in some key areas:

Health – it will help you live longer, you can’t be a titan industry if you are dead! Building a legacy, every day becomes far better with exercise.

Heart – Emotional life and well being, focus on a healthy heart set. Spending quality time with the people you love. Spend the last hour of your day building up the significant relationships in your life.

Soul – Spirituality pull away from superficial and temporary. Reflect on what is important for you – consider keeping a journal. Just the simple act of writing down your thoughts can crystallise your direction.

Sleep – Embracing sleep is one of the key factors in predicting life expectancy. Last hour of day is as important as the first hour of your day. The blue light from the screen prevents you have a relaxing sleep. Go to bed no later than 10pm.

Seasonality

Projects like life go through cycles and sometimes you can be working on a project and it’s keeping you awake at night. It could be a conversation that you had with a co-worker or that problem that no-one quite knows how to solve and somehow you have to get the right people talking to teach other to solve it. How you approach this challenge is key to any successful project.

In life there are different seasons and any approach needs a balance between passionate focused work and deep refuelling and fun. In the same way that a farmer has to sow in one season in order to reap in the next, you need to find the right balance for your projects and lifestyle.

Next steps

I’m enjoying the benefits of waking up early though admittedly at 6am with exercise, reflection and learning and find it to be really helpful start to the day. Though I realise this will not be for everybody and assumes you can get a good nights sleep without the interruption of little children breaking up the night.

But I’ve really found the combination of the peace and solitude of the early hours to make time for myself and get a focus on what I am doing long before I need to be ready for work to be really beneficial.

I use the seven minute workout combined with stretches then a short treadmill run and some rowing or cycling to build up a sweat. Whilst listening to Podcasts, Blinklist or Audible to give me inspiration I need to do better in what ever I do each day. Give it a try and let me know how you get on…

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