“I don’t make my bed for the same reason I don’t tie my shoes when I take them off. It doesn’t make sense.” - Jim Gaffigan
Making your bed in the morning, decorative pillows and cats.
None of these things have ever really made sense to me - yeh they look ok, but why they were necessary or insisted upon eluded me.
My opinion on one of these things has changed, and is now one of the most important parts of my day.
Sorry internet, but we all know cats are just furry little assholes and decorative pillows are still a waste of time - today I’m talking about making your bed in the morning.
IT STARTS WITH WHY
My mum and dad always made me make my bed - it didn’t have to be 5 star with hospital corners, but it had to be at least presentable, looking like a human bed instead of a birds nest of sheets.
I got that it looked nicer and “wasn’t a mess” - we were taught making a mess is generally bad, and if you make a mess it’s your job to get it tidied up - but beyond the aesthetic appeal it didn’t make much sense.
The WHY didn’t connect with me, so while I’d probably do it out of habit, there were plenty days once I’d moved out that I wouldn’t bother. Who’s the nice looking bed for? I don’t care if the sheets are bunched up, I’ll just move them when I go to sleep.
Boom, 10 seconds saved in the mornings. 10 seconds of extra sleep before rolling out and flopping into the shower or kitchen to grab something to eat.
This WHY I understood - I’m saving time and energy. In theory, I’ve got more energy for the morning, this will enhance my studies (lol) and I’ve delayed having to get up. Who doesn’t love a few extra seconds in the morning?
In practice, it never quite turned out like that. I started to notice the days I made my bed I was a little more awake, a little more “with it” in the mornings when talking to people or setting up for the day. On the days I didn’t bother I was still a little sleepy, and more often than not that extra 10 seconds of sleep would turn into an extra 30 mins, followed by “shitshitshitshitshitshitshit” as I realised the time.
Being a late teen/early twenty-something student who knew everything, I deduced this was because on the days I made my bed I was obviously feeling more energetic anyway, the making my bed part was just using some of the extra energy I already had, and the days I didn’t I was just extra tired, clearly need the extra minutes sleep as I was unfocused in the mornings.
Surprising to no one, the mornings I felt I wanted an extra few minutes in bed increased. Not everyday, but certainly more. I was acting in accordance with the WHY of not bothering to make my bed, and everything made sense.
Unfocused mornings be damned, I’m a hard working student (lol) and deserve some sleep.
A NEW WHY
Over the next few years I’d intermittently make my bed - my flatmates were always tidy and made theirs, and I didn’t want to look like an idiot - but the underlying WHY behind not making a point of it remained the same.
It wasn’t until much later, years really, when I started reading more and came across books and articles on the habits of successful people. The habits varied greatly (we are all unique I guess), but one of the common habits people had was to make their bed in the morning.
These busy athletes, musicians, entrepreneurs make time to make their bed? Do they not know the Stu Currie rationale for ditching it and getting extra sleep in the mornings? WHY are they doing this?
Turns out it helped them tune in and get more focused in the mornings. A little bit of effort and they’d be a little more energetic and “with it” than if they tried to save the energy.
Their reasons behind it varied - from simply passively retaining the habit as part of the morning (from family, or past work/experiences) to actively using it as a quick meditative practice to get into the rhythm of the day.
“Hmm”, I thought, “surely not.”.
So I decided to try it out. Not just making my bed - that I’ve already done - but making my bed with purpose.
The results were instantaneous. If I got up and immediately made my bed, I found I was ready to go for the day, having this ticked off the to do list - a quick win for the day - I was primed and ready to do more. If I slacked and rested a few extra minutes, I’d be more sluggish in the morning.
I’m currently writing this sitting on my freshly made bed - foregoing breakfast until I get the last part finished off. Past Stu would never have dreamed of being this awake or energetic in the mornings.
What changed? Was Past Stu just an idiot? Have I adopted other habits? Was I really such a hard working student that I was just extra tired in the mornings from studying so much?
Past Stu was an idiot. (Still am, but much more aware of how little I actually know).
I have adopted other habits since, but making my bed with purpose was the first.
And me, a super dedicated and hard working first year student? Let’s all take a moment to laugh at that one together.
I believe it’s a combination of physically getting up and getting the quick win in, and believing in the WHY of what I’m doing. Understanding it, and letting it naturally fit in to what I want to do.
Instead of just going through the motions like I did when I was younger, I pay attention to what I’m doing. I’m in the moment, trying to make sure the duvet distribution is satisfactory and the pillows sit nicely. If there’s a pattern, I’ll try to make it flow with the pillow covers.
If not, no biggie. I just want to make it look nice, I’m not aiming for 5 star or hospital corners.
I’m not thinking “oh what’s the point. Stupid corners. I hate this. This sucks. I just want to go do something else”. I’m not thinking about what happened yesterday, the past, what’s coming up for the day or further in the future. I’m not on my phone or booting up my laptop.
It’s just me and the sheets, the rest can wait.
After this realisation, I’ve never looked back. Thinking about it more now, it was my first (accidental) encounter with mindfulness and meditation - the art of quieting your mind and just being in the moment - and it has helped me massively in each day, whatever I’m wanting to get done.
It doesn’t take much time, and it costs nothing. Just get up, start making it look nice, and enjoy the extra focus to crush the rest of the day. I thoroughly recommend it.
All it took was to understand and adjust the WHY of it to my goals, practice it, observe and reap the benefits.
Maybe one day I’ll add in some decorative pillows. They’ll say Dogs 4 Life.
PS I learned later on that when mum and dad were wanting us to make our beds, they were trying to get us set up for the day. Maybe they read about the habits of successful people, or maybe they experimented like I did and just felt it worked. Maybe I should have paid more attention when I was younger.