I Tried the “5 to 9 Before 9 to 5” Trend and Somehow Ended Up Feeling Less Productive

I Tried the “5 to 9 Before 9 to 5” Trend and Somehow Ended Up Feeling Less Productive

I have always pictured myself having a morning routine like Rory and Lorelai Gilmore. If you haven’t seen “Gilmore Girls,” the plot is centered on the relationship between a mother and her teenage daughter, who are actually more like best friends. They live in a picturesque town called Stars Hollow and often begin their day over coffee at Luke’s Diner. Time appears to stand still as they chat over bottomless refills.

In real life, even when you can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee, the minutes don’t stretch as far as they do on a TV show. A more realistic option is to get up earlier and try to pack more into your morning routine. That’s the thought process behind the “5 to 9 before 9 to 5” trend on TikTok, where users vlog about their morning routine and how it helps them feel more energized and productive at work. For the unfamiliar, this trend involves making the most of the hours before (or after) a 9-to-5 job, whether it’s exercising, hanging out with friends, or taking a luxurious bath.

I recently put the productivity trend to the test and truthfully couldn’t keep my energy up throughout the day. By the time I finished work, I actually felt like I needed a nap. Ahead, learn more about how it went for me.

What Is the “5 to 9 before 9 to 5” Trend?

The trend refers to the hours between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., depending on how you organize your day. Early risers use these hours to journal, make breakfast, run errands, tidy up around the house, or do anything else they don’t have time for because of the demands of their day job.

Content creator Junie Kim, for example, starts her day at 5 a.m. by drinking lemon water, meditating, reading, and making breakfast — all before she starts work, of course. Most of Kiana Rosado’s morning is dedicated to her elaborate beauty routine, which takes over an hour. Others, like Cameron Kira, take a more casual approach to the trend: she starts by making her bed, picking a comfy outfit, and watching Netflix while eating a breakfast sandwich.

Another version of the trend has TikTok users documenting what happens after their workday. Again, it’s all about embracing “me time” which can look like cooking dinner, hitting the gym, or doing a skincare routine before bed, like in one video from content creator Kristen Hollingshaus. The nighttime version might appeal to night owls who tend to feel more alert in the evening.

My “5 to 9 before 9 to 5” Routine

Normally, I wake up at 6:20 a.m. on a workday. While trying the routine for a week, however, I set my alarm for 5:20 a.m. and allow for one snooze before getting up. After brushing my teeth and washing my face, I change into workout clothes and hop on the treadmill around 5:50 a.m. I’m fortunate to have space for a treadmill in the living room so I can fit in a 30-minute walk without having to go anywhere. Sometimes, I make it to 45 minutes if I’m listening to a ’90s mix that starts with Deborah Cox’s “Who Do U Love.”

Around 6:30 a.m., I take a shower, get dressed, and put my hair in a messy bun. Choosing my clothes the night before is an old habit and works well with this routine since I’m still groggy. By 7:00, I’m sitting down to eat breakfast while my dogs are perking their ears to see if I’m sharing my eggs or turkey bacon.

On days when I’m working in the office, I pack a lunch, sometimes using leftovers from my previous dinner like a stir-fry. I have a 20-minute commute and arrive at work by 8:00. On my work-from-home days, I try to enlist my dogs in my morning routine by taking them out on a brisk walk at 8:30 a.m. My dogs are sleepy and grumpy, so we end up agreeing to stick with our afternoon and evening walks.

What I Learned After Trying the “5 to 9 before 9 to 5” Trend

As someone who had previously only woken up at 5 a.m. to catch a flight or take my dogs out when they were puppies, getting up an hour before my usual wake-up time was harder than I expected. I felt sluggish throughout the day and needed a nap after logging off from work. After a few days, it felt like my internal clock still hadn’t adjusted and I ended up sleeping in a couple of extra hours on the weekend.

I couldn’t live up to their romanticized versions of wellness and productivity.

The hardest part about trying the routine was feeling motivated in the two hours before sunrise. I honestly found it depressing to be awake when it was so dark outside. I also felt like I was lacking in many ways from the TikTok creators who always seemed to have immaculate apartments, toned bodies, and hair perfectly slicked back even after working out. I couldn’t live up to their romanticized versions of wellness and productivity. The fact that social media is a highlight reel is overstated but true. How realistic are these highly productive mornings, even for those helping set the ideal?

I’m not completely knocking the routine. I did like being able to unplug from work, and I wasn’t tempted to respond to the text and email notifications on my phone because I had to get through my to-do list before the workday began. But, despite these benefits, the routine ultimately didn’t work for me because it meant sacrificing sleep for the sake of productivity. Ironically, the more I tried to prioritize self-care in the morning, the more depleted I felt throughout the day.

Even though early mornings aren’t for me (or my dogs), trying this routine made me realize that I need more uninterrupted time for things like eating a nourishing meal or listening to music. Plus, considering that I’m an introvert and a homebody, starting my day socializing at Luke’s probably isn’t the best thing for me either.

Nandini Maharaj, PhD, is a trained therapist with a master’s degree in counseling and a doctorate in public health. Her writing on health, wellness, relationships, and dogs has been featured by POPSUGAR, Self, Well+Good, Business Insider, Apartment Therapy, American Kennel Club, and more.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Nandini Maharaj

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