Author and motivational speaker Robin Sharma, known for his bestselling business fable, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, has another ride for us in The 5AM Club. This is not just another self-help book—it packs valuable lessons on using our available cognitive resources to achieve extraordinary things.
Now, we’ve heard countless times that 5 a.m. is the golden hour to work productively, but is it really worth it—especially when the alternative is sweet, sweet sleep?
It’s perfectly normal for a discerning mind to wonder whether getting up early makes a real difference or is just one of those passing billionaire fads. Well, that’s exactly what our The 5AM Club summary is going to answer. 🕔
We’ll explore why the book defends morning hours, summarizing its philosophy, impactful quotes, and key takeaways for you.
Bonus: We will also introduce some handy functionalities within ClickUp, a free-to-use project management software tool that can help you apply the principles of this book and tailor an effective early morning routine.
- The 5AM Club Book Summary at a Glance
- Key Takeaways from The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma
- High-Impact The 5AM Club Quotes
- Apply The 5AM Club Learnings and Practice Personal Mastery with ClickUp
The 5AM Club Book Summary at a Glance
Author(s): Robin Sharma
No. of pages: 336 (print length)
Year published: 2018
Estimated reading time: 7–12 hours
The 5AM Club uses an endearing story to establish how the average person can do more in their daily life by starting their day at 5 a.m. It revolves around three main characters:
- The disillusioned entrepreneur
- The struggling artist
- The warm and welcoming billionaire (mentor)
The trio has an unexpected encounter at a conference, and the billionaire asks the other two protagonists to spend time with him at his beach house in Mauritius. The only catch? They have to arrive at five in the morning. 😅
In exchange, though, the billionaire would reveal his guru’s advice to the duo. As you can probably guess, the crux of the advice is about waking up at 5 a.m. and creating a schedule to finish your daily tasks without any distractions.
Sharma’s reasoning is that rising early gives you the cognitive resources required to undertake activities for self-reflection, physical health, and personal growth. And it’s science-backed—we sabotage many self-improvement efforts because of our ancient brain, which anticipates danger and keeps us in a state of fear, pushing us to embrace distractions and avoid action.
However, our brain’s prefrontal cortex, responsible for problem-solving and emotional processing, helps us fight back this behavior through rational action. At 5 a.m., our brain is wired to be in a calmer state, allowing us to rise above fear-induced stress and anxiety and take measurable steps toward building a successful life.
As the book continues, Sharma explores many themes to drive his point home. Let’s explore some standout discussions:
Four interior empires
Sharma encourages personal mastery practice by grooming our four interior empires, namely:
- Mindset: Our thoughts and beliefs, quality of self-talk, and attitude toward challenges shape our reality
- Heartset: Practice gratitude to nurture personal growth as a heart space weighed down by painful emotions takes us nowhere
- Healthset: Peak physical health gives you the vitality and freedom to pursue growth opportunities
- Soulset: We nurture our soul by being spiritual in our pursuits, often through meditation and contemplation
The 5AM Club addresses the elephant in the room: What should we do after getting up at five in the morning? It’s not like we can shove our heads inside screens this early, right?
Here’s where Sharma goes over his next indigenous idea—the 20/20/20 rule for a revolutionary morning routine. You divide the first hour—the time between 5 and 6, also called the victory hour—into three equal parts.
- First 20 minutes: Vigorous physical activity lowers cortisol, the hormone of fear. Use this time to work up a good sweat—it releases BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) that helps your brain form new neural pathways and experience neuroplasticity
- Next 20 minutes: Once you’re done with completing some fine cardio, switch gears and take a breather to meditate. For example, you can introspect on your day ahead
- Last 20 minutes: For the last part, absorb knowledge that boosts personal growth. Say, you can read a book or tune into productive podcasts
The idea is to create a morning routine that preps you up for peak performance throughout the day.
Maintaining a high performance cycle
A high performance cycle requires your body to be well-rested, which can only be gained through a good night’s sleep. The book emphasizes the ill effects of sleep deprivation and encourages readers to get quality sleep that repairs brain cells and enhances neural connections. In general, you’re likely to enjoy a deep recovery cycle during sleep by:
- Avoiding screen time during the last hour of your day before bed
- Sleeping in a dark room
Key Takeaways from The 5AM Club by Robin Sharma
If you’re the type for deeper understanding, here are five key takeaways from the book that you may want to integrate into your daily life. Take a look!
1. Creating an early morning routine is painful yet rewarding
The biggest hurdle to being active during morning hours? Our brain revolts.
Imagine being told that you can’t touch your phone for the next week. You’ll probably start facing withdrawal symptoms! Your brain isn’t used to this change and will make you feel uncomfortable in every way, thanks to new synaptic pathways, but that pain is what’s going to help you in the long run.
According to Sharma, a Habit Installation Protocol can help you out—you have to assume that you’ll need around 66 days to anchor yourself to the habit. ⚓
For the first few days, you must push yourself to show up for your morning routine. Towards the mid-section (after around 20 days), you’ll feel like you’re at your limit and none of this is going to help, but Sharma calls this the time when you’re actually starting to change. Towards the end, you’ll experience the Automaticity Point, where your brain is finally acclimated to the new schedule.
This protocol can support any lifestyle change, and you’ll be happy you pushed through. 💪
2. Want to live like the top 5%? Do what the 95% don’t!
The most basic yet undervalued tip to change one’s life is to commit to transformations most people avoid.
Does the idea of waking up at 5 a.m. sound tiring?
Not to the top 5% of successful people.
Sharma believes that when you start living differently, in a manner that most don’t, people may call you crazy. However, this label is exactly what he mentions as the “price” of greatness.
If you commit to productivity goals for a better life, then you’ve got to stay focused on the changes you must make, regardless of societal expectations. Let’s say you spend your weekends building up a side business instead of unwinding at the bar. This is an unorthodox path, but it shows you’re willing to make an uncomfortable change to improve your finances.
3. Pay attention to your emotional well-being
An amazing point highlighted in The 5AM Club is how the human ego and society work. For example, when we’re embarrassed in front of a group, our ego acts up and pollutes the heart with icky feelings of bitterness, shame, and anger.
Sharma stresses the importance of a light heartset. We must make a conscious effort to keep our ego in check and be more aware of our individual stress triggers, bad habits, and coping mechanisms. Self-regulation helps us invest in personal growth from a place of authenticity and be more resilient in the face of challenges.
Remember, you don’t need to be the best in the world; just show up with your best self every day!
4. Express your talent(s)
In the book, the billionaire gives great advice to the other two protagonists: If you’ve got a talent, express it, even if it has the power to work against you.
Never take your talent for granted. It’s your natural currency in this world and something that should be capitalized on. Keep learning and exploring the potential risks and opportunities it brings along. The book offers additional tips to be a lifelong genius, such as:
- Leveraging the Traffic University, i.e., using your mundane commute time to explore new books or podcasts
- Dedicating a few minutes of your day toward fine-tuning your skill
5. Build your support network
Everyone has the creative and productive potential to sharpen their mental focus and lead a successful life, but what if they’re surrounded by people who only bring them down?
A good example here is the artist in this book. His friends made fun of his art and called him mean names. His failure was a byproduct of hanging out with the wrong group of people.
You become the people you hang out with, so reconsider who you’re exposing yourself to. It’s best to spend time with like-minded folks who cherish and support you. Learn to network and find people and communities who can be your support system. 🌻
High-Impact The 5AM Club Quotes
There are plenty of note-worthy quotes in The 5AM Club. Check out our favorites:
Our culture tells us to pursue titles and trinkets, applause and acclaim, money and mansions. All that’s fine—it truly is—so long as you don’t get brainwashed into defining your worth as a human being by these things. Enjoy them; just don’t get attached to them. Have them; just don’t base your identity around them. Appreciate them; just don’t need them.
In the book, the billionaire goes over the materialistic norms in modern-day society. Everyone’s in a race to buy the best, not be the best.
He states that wanting worldly gifts is not a bad thing as long as you don’t let it define your true worth.
When you turn the want into a need, the material becomes your temporary source of strength. You find yourself weak the very instant you lose any of your worldly treasures. Instead of relying on materials to define our identity, we should focus on building mental energy and integrity of character.
If you want to lead your field…. become a performer and person of depth. Commit to being a highly unusual human being instead of one of those timid souls who behave like everyone else, living a sloppy life instead of a magnificent one, a derivative life instead of an original one.
The billionaire makes strong remarks about modern workspaces and how everyone prioritizes quantity over quality. Many workers don’t have the passion or commitment to lead groundbreaking advancements and simply find the easiest way out of life.
Bonus read: Passionate about your work but never have enough time to get things done? Check out how deep work can help you become a master at your craft!
Because most of us alive today wish we had more time. Yet we waste the time we have. Thinking about dying brings what matters most into much sharper focus. You’ll stop allowing digital distractions, cyber diversions, and online nuisances to steal the irreplaceable hours of the blessing called your life. You never get your days back, you know?
Mr. Riley, the billionaire, makes one of his strongest statements in Chapter 10: The 4 Focuses of History-Makers. He details how simply the thought of death can help an individual steer away from flaky digital distractions and live life to the fullest. 🌷
Apply The 5AM Club Learnings and Practice Personal Mastery with ClickUp
Waking up early in the morning may not be the easiest task in the world, but its rewards outweigh the temporary discomfort you encounter while reinforcing the habit. If you’re committed to the goal, here’s a tool that will help you show up for yourself: ClickUp. 😇
ClickUp is an all-in-one productivity and goal setting software with multiple functionalities to:
- Organize and track your early morning routine and other schedules
- Stay consistent while developing new habits
- Gain control over your everyday workload to maintain mental health
Here are some exceptional features that’ll help you stay focused throughout your journey:
1. Master scheduling with ClickUp Calendar and templates
Waking up at 5 a.m., or developing any challenging habit for that matter, is easier when you have a realistic schedule planned out. Luckily, whether you’re a team leader, business owner, or just a student, ClickUp acts as a free schedule-maker for everyone! 📅
The platform’s super visual drag-and-drop Calendar enables you to create flexible timelines that give you the confidence and motivation to hit your goals. Used to third-party planners like Google Calendar or TimeDoctor? Easily integrate ClickUp with 1,000+ tools and make the best of both worlds.
Ideally, you can also leverage ClickUp views for scheduling teams and projects on a larger scale. Explore the Gantt Chart, Kanban Board, and Workload views to see which fits your management style best. You can easily adjust dates on the go and keep track of the big picture at all times.
Bonus: ClickUp offers numerous daily planner templates for all types of goals and intents. Align your daily work with these user-favorites:
- ClickUp Daily Schedule Planner Template: Use this to-the-point template to get the hang of how you can create a schedule
- ClickUp Study Time Template: Plan how you’ll dedicate early hours or commute time to focus on learning
- ClickUp Checklist Template: Keep track of tasks with Checklists to ensure you’ve ticked off everything and can spend the rest of your hours doing what you love!
- ClickUp Exercise Log Template: Stay in action and promote physical well-being by designing a workout schedule
- ClickUp Schedule Blocking Template: This and many other time blocking templates on ClickUp are designed to give you an overview of the priorities in your schedule
2. Micromanage your week ahead and daily hours
A common problem readers face while implementing the learnings of The 5AM Club is being clueless about where to start. You get up late and make plans on the spot, only to end up like a train wreck at the end of the day.
If that’s relatable, then the ClickUp Time Management Suite is here to your rescue. Its functionalities allow you to be more disciplined by micromanaging your day down to the very last hour. Use the ClickUp Time Tracker to record how much time your planned tasks take and strategically allot specific hours in your schedule for that job. That way, you’ll be able to restrict yourself from spending unnecessary hours on distractions or low-end work.
For instance, ClickUp Goals helps you boost transparency between teams and keep everyone aware of current targets. Create trackable goals and link them to any task you create. Benefit from easy-to-use folders to quickly shift between different personal and professional projects and keep all deliverables organized.
If you’re leading a team, use ClickUp Tasks to create custom tasks with multiple assignees with relevant information in assigned comments. This helps your team run like clockwork, giving you greater mental peace and leisure to pursue growth and self-improvement.
3. Organize everything in your ClickUp Workspace
Your ClickUp Workspace sets you up with all the tools you need to stay productive. For example, with ClickUp Docs, you can centralize all information in one space. Or, leverage ClickUp AI to save time on drafting documents and email communication—this work assistant can even brainstorm or generate ideas for you when you’re facing a mental block.
4. Stay consistent with ClickUp Reminders
We’re all humans, and it’s okay to go off-track sometimes. However, with ClickUp Reminders, you can avoid falling through the cracks by setting up self-alerts or team reminders. You can also set up Task Priorities to generate notifications for pressing tasks.
Finally, if your day looks too packed, consider using Automations to get repetitive admin work done in an instant. You can create Recurring Tasks with specific frequency and save hours and days in your schedule. 🥰
Build a Successful Morning Routine with ClickUp
The 5AM Club gives us one core lesson—everyone can do wonders if they’re willing to leverage the day’s early hours to be productive, not just busy.
With a productivity tool like ClickUp, where you can automate the busywork, set goals, track progress, and most importantly, create schedules, your journey to being the 5% of humans is not out of reach!