The morning ‘power hour’ – and how to make the most of it

Like a lie in? You may be missing the best and most productive part of the day, say members of a new early bird club that’s rapidly finding fans.

Every week day, at a time most of us are still tucked up soundly in bed, groups of people are gathering at local cafes to get their day off to a productive start.

Started in 2019 in a Cronulla cafe, the 5.30 Club – that’s 5.30am – has become a fast-growing movement that’s already operating out of scores of coffee shops across the country.

Some members read, others write in journals or work on their side hustles.

So what’s is the 5.30 Club all about, and why the need to get up before the crack of dawn?

Finding intention in your day

They may be bleary eyed when their alarms go off, but embracing an early start is a game-changer, says 5.30 Club co-founder and Sydney psychology student Vani Morrison.

“It means you’re up before the craziness of the day, so you can focus on something you’re passionate about before your phone and email start pinging,” says Vani, 27, who started the original club with friends Aurelien Schibli and Brenton Parkes.

“I get very involved in my studies, which can be isolating, so there’s something nice about getting out of the house early and being greeted by smiling faces.

“You’re sitting with people from all walks of life, all sorts of industries and all ages – there’s a feeling of being part of something, even if a lot of the time we’re side by side in silence.”

The power hour potential

530 Club bondi
The Bondi meeting of the 5:30am club

UK-born Lauren Sutton says she started the Bondi chapter of the club to “make a dent in her ever-growing reading list”, but the pre-dawn coffee catch-up came to mean much more.

“The network I’ve built through this is incredible,” says the 28-year-old marketer.

“Starting a 5.30 Club meant I became part of a community of like-minded people who are my cheerleaders in everything I do, I feel like they’re championing me to win at life.”

Lauren launched the Ideas and Beers social networking group after support from club members.

And Vani started her own podcast series, The Secret Weapon, after workshopping the idea in her daily “power hour”.

A healthy way to embrace each day

The idea behind the 5.30 Club isn’t about “cramming more in your day” says Vani, but reclaiming time (and perhaps going to bed earlier).

“Let’s face it, technology has been playing havoc with many of our circadian rhythms and nothing good happens after 9pm,” she laughs.

Organisational psychologist Dr Amantha Imber says she sees many positives in the initiative.

“From a chronotype perspective, if you’re a lark and someone who naturally peaks in terms of your energy in the morning, it sounds like a great way to connect with others, with some additional accountability built in,” says Dr Imber, founder of behavioural science consultancy Inventium.

“If you’re more of an owl, I’d suggest not trying to fight completely against your natural body rhythms – perhaps start a 5.30pm club and take some time out that way.”

How to join the 5.30 Club

The 5.30 Club is free and open to people of any age – all you need to do is turn up between 5.30am and 6.30am.

Find a club in your local area by visiting the 5.30 Club website.

Written by Liz McGrath.