Making the bed is a surprisingly polarizing topic. In case you haven’t participated in the conversation, here are the two camps:
- It’s a waste of time to do something unimportant everyday.
- It sets you up for success for the day, and cleanliness is next to godliness.
So where do I fall? Is it important to make your bed?
My answer would be . . . maybe?
I can’t tell you that it’s important for you to make your bed, but I can tell you that it’s been important for me to make my bed.
The Habit Loop
After reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, I felt compelled to try developing a new habit. I wanted to apply what I learned, and more importantly, I was desperate to start building habits of consistency into my life. As you learn more about me, you’ll notice I can have a boom/bust mentality regarding just about everything. My mom used to say I have two modes: full blast and asleep.
So I could definitely do with a little more consistency in my life!
While there are other areas in my life that I hope to build consistency in (exercising, dishes!, etc.), bed making seemed like an approachable way to start.
Duhigg describes the habit loop as the following:
- Cue – a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode
- Routine – a physical, mental, or emotional pattern you follow
- Reward – an indication that helps your brain figure out that the pattern is worth remembering and following in the future
I thought about what I wanted my cue to be. Waking up wouldn’t work, because I’m often the first one up, and it’s difficult to make the bed with a large man still in it. Finishing breakfast would be a bit iffy, because sometimes I’m already in a rush by the time breakfast rolls around. I ended up settling on the cue of seeing our unmade bed.
The routine was simple: make the bed.
The reward, like the cue, was hard to decide. I eventually decided that my reward would be feeling satisfied. I enjoy things being clean and organized, and I really do receive satisfaction from a pretty bed. As long as I took a moment to appreciate it, I figured sheer satisfaction should to the trick!
My goal was to make my bed daily for a month, and I promised myself a dinner out as a reward (this is different from the habit loop reward because it’s not immediate). Let me tell you, it was humorously difficult at the beginning! I constantly had to remind myself, but even still, some days I’d forget in the morning and wouldn’t remember until the afternoon. But I did it! Everyday for a month, I made the bed – usually immediately after seeing it unmade.
That was months ago, and I still make the bed everyday! Now, it’s 100% a habit. I never have the thought of, “Oh shoot – I need to make the bed!”. As soon as I see the bed unmade (sans sleeping husband), I make it! And I enjoy the resulting satisfaction.
What’s even been more important is that it was a great exercise in developing consistency and introducing a habit. So many of the books I’ve read recently have talked about developing habits, routines, or rituals to auto-pilot certain parts of your life. If you don’t need to put energy into willpower and memory, you have more energy to expend elsewhere! I was thankful for the practice of putting something on autopilot – especially something that makes me happy daily.
So what’s the verdict – should you make your bed in the morning?
I come back to my original answer: maybe.
If seeing a made bed is a simple pleasure in your life, and it brings you joy, I say – ya! Make your bed! But if it doesn’t – then who cares? Skip it!
But I would encourage you to pick something small to create a daily habit around, so that everyday you have something that automatically happens and brings you joy. I few ideas might be. . .
- Love coffee? Get a programable coffee maker and create a habit to program it every night before bed. There’s nothing better to a coffee lover than waking up to brewing coffee!
- Dishes drive you crazy? Make a habit of at least getting them off the dining room table after dinner. (This might be my next habit to tackle!)
- Enjoy music? Maybe right when you get home from work, sit down and listen to a favorite song or two before starting anything else.
- Love yoga? Try going through a short routine right after you get out of bed or right before you get in the shower.
I’d love to hear about your thoughts and progress!
What do you think about making the bed?
Are there any other small habits that you’re trying to integrate into your life? Or that you want to in the future?