An emerging “productivity” trend has caught the eye of nine-to-five workers worldwide and it has been backed by experts, but not without a warning.
The “5 to 9 before the 9 to 5” has taken social media by storm with users sharing viral videos and vlogs of their morning chores, workouts, healthy habits and routines achieved before the working day begins.
With the #5to9 hashtag having over 38.5 million TikTok views, the trend’s popularity can largely be attributed to a rise in individuals working from home.
Common themes among “5 to 9 routines” explained in videos include preparation for work, yoga and exercise, cleaning, reading and cooking.
Habit scientist and dietitian, Dr. Gina Cleo said she had only recently caught wind of the lifestyle trend, which has received repeated social media coverage since April when the pre and post-work 5 to 9 routine was introduced into wellness discourse.
“I’m familiar with being productive before the workday starts, but I only noticed the terminology “5 to 9 before your 9 to 5” emerge as a trend more recently,” she said.
The health expert has backed the idea, saying that having a personal health-focused and maintenance routine before work can be highly beneficial.
“There are only so many hours in a day and using those hours productively can give us a real sense of achievement,” she said.
“Whether it’s spending time on self-care, personal development, or optimizing your health and wellbeing, creating a healthy 5 to 9 routine before the 9 to 5 working day, can be a great way to make the most of your waking hours.”
Health experts have health-backed the idea behind the “5 to 9” trend.
Despite the benefits, implementing a 5 to 9 routine can unearth some health risks and work-life balance considerations, according to Dr. Cleo.
“Potential harms can include sacrificing sleep for ‘productivity’, trying to fit in too much in a day, feeling inefficient when your body needs a sleep-in or rest, being too focused on your routine and consequently neglecting listening to your body’s needs,” she said.
The habit expert stressed that while the wellness routine can improve overall productivity and wellbeing for many individuals, “the 5 to 9 lifestyle is absolutely not for everyone.”
“If you are naturally a night-owl, then attempting to do anything at 5 am or even 7 am is likely to feel completely unachievable,” she said.
“Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your health, so if you’re naturally waking up just in time to get ready for your 9 to 5 job, then don’t feel bad that you haven’t achieved anything more in the morning. Night owls generally complete their chores, study, exercise, etc. after their workday, not before.”
Dr. Cleo said the 5 to 9 before 9 to 5 would be far more useful implemented by those who are generally early risers.
“If on the other hand, you’re naturally a morning person, then creating a positive morning routine is a great way to help you start your day well,” she said.
“Mornings can be a great time to move your body, knock off some household chores, get in nature, or do some reading/meditating.”
Despite the catchiness of the 5 to 9 in conjunction with the 9 to 5, the health expert said an early morning wellness routine does not have to begin at 5 am.
“It (the day) can start at any time really. The most important thing is that you’re getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night,” she said.
“We are awake for about 16 hours a day. We’re at work roughly 8 of those hours, and spend an additional 1-2 hours commuting, which leaves us with around 6 hours to do life. To make the most of those hours, it’s good to have goals, plans, and routines.”
Shift workers have jumped on board the trend also following a similar dynamic, with TikTok nurse Kristina sharing a video of her “morning” 3 to 7 before her 7 to 7 shift.
The trend has largely been welcomed and attempted by those on the social media platform however others have criticized and doubted their ability to engage with the routine.
“Lovely video but everyone please remember it’s okay to not have this lifestyle! I wake up 20 mins before I have to leave and that is okay,” said one commenter.
Nicki Minaj commented on one users video saying: “OMG could you organize me like that? When I have to be somewhere at nine I wake up at 8:30.”
“I would simply fall back asleep” and “girl how do you wake up at five and then work eight hours, I could never,” said other users.
One TikToker raised concerns as to how the trend encourages efforts towards work and career, which are unpaid, which should not be completed during non-work, “leisure” hours.
“It just feels like we’re living the same day over and over with these schedules.”
“I feel like it’s important to also mention the privilege of working only one job and having the 9 to 5 shift,” another commenter said.
Dr. Cleo said ultimately, it is important to focus on being realistic with daily routines.
“If you have two waking hours in the morning before work, one morning you may choose to exercise and another morning you may choose to knock off some chores, doing both may not be achievable,” she said.