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But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest — then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. – Proverbs 6:9-11 (NLT)
I crawled out of bed this morning at the usual time — 5:30 am. That’s exactly one hour before the sun comes up here in Geita, Tanzania. Straight to the kitchen to get the coffee started, and then to my desk. I read my Bible, checked emails, looked at a couple of blogs I enjoy, and was cooking eggs and homemade sausage by 6:00. We’ve had some visitors in our home for a few days, and I was expected to drop them off at the Groen’s house at 7:00. David, Jeremy, and I ate standing up and were off early enough for them to make a timely departure. I was running (while praying) by ten after 7, and had completed six miles by 8. By then Christie and Baylor had been up for some time, and I joined them playing in the living room.
I’m very rarely cooking breakfast at 6:00 am, and I don’t run every day. But I’ve come to love waking early all the same. I do so for many reasons, but one stands out far above any other — indeed many of the others are mere bullet points under this heading:
I want to accomplish more in my day than I have time for. It’s that simple. It’s not that all of these things are crucial to life or even important to my well-being — it’s just that I don’t like not being able to do them. And so… I rise before the sun.
Here are just a few of my specific motivations for waking early (many of them related to my already named rationale). I share them, knowing a few will not be applicable to you — but hoping others might become motivation:
- Savor a cup of coffee and quiet.
- Read my Bible without interruption.
- Enjoy a focused and quality prayer time.
- Exercise. If I attempt to put this off until afternoon, it often goes undone — which, if I’m honest, is true of many things I say I’ll get to after work.
- Write. I try to write something every day, whether or not it’s used for Bible study, the blog, or anything really. I find it helps me think, while relaxing me.
- Just sit and think.
- Memorize scripture.
- Enjoy a slow start to my day. I despise having to get up and rush out the door.
- Relish the cooler temperatures. By 8:30 it’s starting to get warm here, but from 5:30 – 7:30 it’s nearly imperative that I wear a long-sleeve shirt AND a sweat shirt or a jacket.
- Enjoy nature — sunrise, birds singing, the mooing of waking cows.
- Get some work done early, leaving some of the afternoon free to watch the Tour de France.
- Take care of Baylor if she’s up, so Christie can have a few more minutes of rest.
- Study Swahili.
- Read blogs I enjoy.
- Check email.
- Read the news.
I’m not so foolish to believe that rising early is good for everyone. I certainly don’t believe waking before dark is necessary for one to lead a productive life. Nor am I so naive to assume everyone requires the same amount of sleep. I do know that, right or wrong, rising early is seen as a characteristic of productive and disciplined people. And oftentimes these people indeed are those who are most focused and productive. [See articles: Why Morning People Rule the World and The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm.]
I’m not suggesting every individual should rise early. But I do think many of us are not accomplishing what we could, or even what we’d like to. There are a whole lot of people who talk of (read: complain about) not having enough time in their days to accomplish all they should. It seems to me these people (of whom I was/am one) have four options:
- Stop performing unproductive and time-wasting tasks (television, Facebook, video games, magazines, etc).
- Wake up earlier.
- Go to bed later.
- Become indifferent towards accomplishing those things we would like to.
As you already know, I do not believe all the above options were created equal. But I should be clear that waking up an hour before dark is not necessary; rising only a half-hour before you currently do could make a really big difference in your day.
What do you think? Are you like I was for most of my life (really liking the idea of being an early riser, and even wanting to be one, but somehow unable to make it happen)? What time do you wake up? Are you as productive as you’d like to be? What does waking early allow you to do? What would you do if you were up a half-hour earlier every day?