Living for the weekend is no longer a work-life trade-off young professionals are willing to make.
The traditional 9 to 5 workweek has long been associated with sitting at a desk all day in an office, taking part in corporate culture, for five days a week, on repeat. That structure has been dreary for many workers over the years, with many believing that they only truly come alive at the weekend, when they get to do what they want. That’s why people are reframing how they look at their work days.
Instead of waiting until the weekend for fun plans, seeing friends and family, or getting a great workout in, people are doing it all right before or after work and calling it their 5 to 9 routine. It’s blown up on TikTok, with lifestyle influencers showing exactly what it looks like for them.
Maddi Todd has over 10 million combined views on her TikToks about her 5 to 9 before the 9 to 5 starts. She has created a playlist of over 30 videos about her early morning routine, letting people in on how she gets her day started. “We know the drill, this is my 5 to 9 before the 9 to 5,” she says at the start of each video.
It’s always a compilation of waking up, getting dressed, going to the gym, walking her dog, eating breakfast, journaling, and/or running errands. She’s been making these videos since last summer, but this sort of “day in the life” video has been gaining traction on the app again lately.
A lot of TikTokers are now documenting how a morning routine has helped them start their day on the right foot and ultimately make them more productive at work.
Jillian Jaeger is one of them. She has 15,000 followers on the app and posts about what she wears to work, daily routines, and more. She typically wakes up at 5:15 a.m. to do her morning routine before starting work at 8:30 a.m.
“By the time I get to work I feel refreshed and ready to take on the day,” said Jaeger. “I started posting my routines to hold myself accountable and I love being inspired by others’ routines. I think it is important to have outside hobbies that will keep you motivated and excited for the day. Then I can just enjoy my weekends the way I want to instead of trying to cram everything in.”
She wakes up with a sunrise alarm clock, which she said “is the most helpful tool to get out of bed,” and heads to a yoga sculpt class that starts at 6 a.m. When she gets back, she showers, gets ready for work, and hops on the train to start her day. She aims to do this morning routine two to three times a week, and admits sometimes she will do a shorter version that starts at 6 a.m and just go for a walk instead of yoga.
“My routine is essential to staying focused and feeling good for the day,” said Jaeger. “I love the feeling of having accomplished something before the day begins.”
Naturally, having energizing and busy pre-work and post work routines isn’t totally new, but having people post these videos on TikToks is encouraging other young people to put thought into their morning and evening weekday routines, especially as return-to-office gains momentum.
Nhon Ma, CEO and founder of virtual learning platform Numerade, has long had an active prework routine. He wakes up at 4:45 a.m. every morning to go to his local indoor basketball gym. His morning goal: shoot 100 three-point shots in less than 20 minutes. Then he lifts weights and hits the sauna.
“This helps get me into my body and clear my mind for the day,” said Ma. “I highly encourage other leaders to exercise in the morning — it not only helps me physically, but has had positive compounding effects for my business by igniting my energy and providing mental clarity.”
After work he recharges by spending time with his family. He takes his young kids to after-school activities and makes sure he eats dinner with them every night. “I find being in their world daily has helped me find daily balance, and often my best ideas come to me when I step away from my computer,” said Ma.
For Alyssa Welch, people and culture manager at customer engagement platform Customer.io, it looks very similar, starting with a morning workout. “It gives me an energy boost for the early morning hours,” she said. And at night, she has time for meditation and to relax.
Of course, a routine like that is not realistic for everyone. Brandon Edelman, @bran_flakezz on TikTok, known for his quippy videos, posted last week saying: “I’m seeing these videos ‘come with me for my 5 to 9 before my 9 to 5,’ when I worked 9 to 5, I would sleep from 5 to 9. I would sleep until whenever my first meeting was.”
And that’s how a lot of people are, especially when working remotely and all you need to do is roll over and turn on your laptop, or even just open Slack on your phone to be considered “online.” And sometimes waking up right before your first meeting is all you can mentally handle. For others, their morning is dedicated to making sure the rest of the household is also good to go for the day.
“I think the trend has positive intentions, especially for mental health,” said Edelman, who has over 500,000 followers on TikTok. “A lot of us roll out of bed, check our phones, then start work. A lot of people are questioning that mindset and waking up earlier, and I think that’s really great. I also think that kind of has a privilege to it. Some people are spending their mornings taking care of their kids and getting them ready for the day.”
It’s nice to see people showcasing what they do before and after work and glamorizing it a bit for TikTok to encourage others to do the same, but Edelman said, “in an ideal world, everybody would have time to do stuff like that.”
“When I was working a 9 to 5, it was just not a realistic lifestyle to wake up early,” said Edelman. “I was working from 8 to 7 and when I got home my social battery was at negative five. I wanted to just order takeout and sit on the couch. That was my form of self care. And in the morning, if I didn’t have a meeting until later, I would sleep until 8 a.m.”
His biggest advice? Disregard the latest trends on TikTok and do what makes sense for your morning routine and your mental health. “It’s great to share your ideas with other people, but as viewers, we need to not get into the mindset that if it’s not our life, it’s bad,” said Edelman. “That’s not how everybody’s life is going to be.”