Sunrise Slackers


Negative stereotypes about telecommuters abound in our culture. We are seen as idle, pajama- wearing wastrels who sleep until noon and work an average of one hour per day. The rest of the time we are thought to be whiling away the time chatting on the phone or playing angry birds or online scrabble. This may be the case in the very beginning, which is frankly a very natural reaction to the trauma of being forced to wake up at 6:00 am every day to commute to a job we loathe.

Long ago, I had such severe difficulty waking up to go to work for a major law firm that I developed a bizarre and complicated relationship with my alarm clock. I used to lock it in my jewelry box and then hide the key in a new location each night. The routine of having to hunt for the key in the morning and then open the jewelry box, combined with the air-raid setting on my alarm clock, ensured that I would be too alert and conscious of my impending responsibilities by the time I retrieved my alarm clock to dare to press the snooze button.

When my husband, Robin Scott, worked as a pilot and was on reserve duty, he had to be on call overnight in case he needed to replace a pilot who called in sick. This might entail receiving a three am wakeup call. Even when not on reserve, he often had to fly the earliest flight in the morning, which required him to wake up by 5:00 am.

Since we’ve started living as digital nomads, much has changed. For this January and February, my husband and I are telecommuting from the Florida Keys. We always have the option of sleeping in, but when you are not being forced to wake up at a certain hour, a strange thing happens. You find yourself actually wanting to wake up early.

The sunrises in the Keys, like the one pictured above, taken from our balcony, are so glorious, we don’t even need alarm clocks. We look forward to waking up because the day is ours to design and create. Our day may involve long hours of teaching online, or working on our blog, or–for me–writing poetry. Or, the afternoon may offer up the perfect weather for an impromptu snorkeling trip to break up the day before we come back to finish work, or enjoy a glass of wine at sunset or read a good book before bed.

When we go to sleep, we leave the shades open because we know we will wake up naturally, eagerly at first light.

by Emily Benson

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