The Value of Making Your Bed, Practicing a Strong Morning Routine

My grandmother once said, “You don’t make your bed to show off for anybody else – you make your bed for you, so that when you come home after a long day, you feel you are returning home.” (I’m paraphrasing, maybe uncle Jim can confirm her exact words.)

Recently I mentioned on the Positively Living podcast the embarrassing fact I haven’t always made my bed every day. For the majority of my life, I’ve had my bed pushed up against one wall or another, making it a pain to get around and try to make. Crawling on top of the bed and going out of my way did not spark joy for me, so it was something I skipped quite regularly.

Diving into the Konmari Method, I really gained an appreciation for setting spaces nicely – staging my home for myself – yet I was still faced with this dilemma each morning. I tried my best, and couldn’t get my small bedroom space to look just right, because of the position of the bed. In January, I had the opportunity to update my room, and I redesigned a few elements . . .

I decided a built-in platform bed/headboard/side tables, made to measure in a way that fit perfectly in the slim room, would enabled me to actually walk around the bed and “make it” more easily.

If you haven’t read “Make Your Bed” by William H. McRaven, I’ll summarize:

McRaven proposes that by making your bed each morning (something they had to do perfectly, ready for inspection, in the army), you are starting your day off on the right food by checking off something from your task list right away. You can start to feel a sense of accomplishment from the get-go – and from there, “What else might I accomplish today?” can drive you through the rest of your day.

My Spring 2020 Project: Morning Routine

Another piece that kickstarted my January – I read Atomic Habits by James Clear (a book I’ve mentioned a few times now). This build on my understanding of the habit loop I read about years ago in The Power of Habit, and re-introduced me to the idea of “Habit Stacking”.

Habit stacking is essentially the act of stringing together multiple habits in a way that forms a solid routine. When COVID19 hit, and I had trouble keeping to my fitness and healthy eating, I decided to focus on a new project and build myself a solid morning stack. My habit stack is set up like this:

  • When I awaken, I turn on a podcast.
  • While listening, I rise up and begin to make my bed.
  • After making my bed, I put yesterday’s clothes in the hamper, and walk to my bathroom.
  • There, I use the toilet, weigh myself, take my daily medication & vitamins, drink a glass of water, brush my teeth, wash my face. (All while listening to the podcast).
  • I return to my room to get dressed, and I take a moment to make sure everything is in it’s proper place.

That’s it! Now, usually I follow this up with coffee, breakfast, and a drive in to the office — but the main core of my habit stack is completed every day. I take my time with it, and it’s about 30 minutes of “me time”. 20 if I’m running late.

The magic of habit stacking, is that by completing one part of the task you start to crave the next step because it’s a pattern and expectation that you’ve built into your life. The first step is super easy – I turn on a podcast. It’s simple, and I can do it from my bed . . . plus, it kickstarts me to make my bed and do everything else I need to in the morning.

So, what’s the result?

Since moving in to my updated bedroom in January, I’ve skipped making my bed only about 5 days – usually on a weekend or a day I wasn’t feeling great. I set out to make my mornings better, and in the end, I circled right back to what my grandma used to say . . .

My aim isn’t “perfection” – it’s “Super comfy”.

I return home every night to a luxury hotel-like experience right at home, that was made just for me, and my bedtimes are better as a result. Win-win!

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