COLUMN: Bonus-hour suggestions

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I try to get up extra early at least a couple of days a week, especially during summer. If you haven’t done that lately, this is the time of the year to set the alarm a couple of hours early, even if just once a week. You’ll be taking advantage of all the extra sunlight Mother Nature blesses us with to get more done.

The sun has been rising around 5:30 a.m. but that’s the time when the sun actually crests above the horizon. As early birds know, it’s light well before then and there’s plenty of time before the actual sunrise to do things.

Why get up early? What’s there to do?

I get up early to take the occasional walk, do laundry or just empty the dishwasher. I sometimes watch a TV show I recorded but haven’t found time to watch.

Occasionally, I’ll drive to the farm or tour the fields. Just sitting out on the deck with a cup of coffee is nice.

What else is there to do? The sky is the limit with what I like to call my summer bonus hour, the 60 minutes I normally spend sleeping that I try to do something with during the long days of summer.

Here are a few suggestions on what I know some people do and even a few activities I want to try. Most aren’t that original, so use your imagination.

• You can take a walk or walk your dog. You’ll both appreciate the extra exercise. Others head to the gym during the early morning. I suspect the crowds are a bit smaller if you arrive before sunrise and you’ll feel better all day.

• Pull weeds in your garden or landscaping. No one likes the job but it’s a lot less taxing of a task when it’s cool than when it’s hot. Devote 15 minutes to the job a couple of times a week to make a big job more manageable.

• Watch the sun actually rise. It may not be my cup of tea, but think about it. When is the last time you have actually watched the sun come up? Get up early tomorrow and do just that.

• How about reading or writing? I know a couple of people who wake up early and read a couple of small poems. Others recite their prayers and I tell myself I’m going to recite the rosary while walking. I just haven’t done it yet.

Other writers add to their journals. Dust off a book or dig into the digital one you bought or received as a gift. Yes, the one you promised yourself to read but haven’t cracked yet.

Use your bonus hour to make a hearty breakfast one day a week, maybe homemade biscuits and gravy or an omelet.

The ideas are endless. It’s your time. Find something enriching to do. There will always be time to sleep when the sun doesn’t come up until after 7 a.m.