What's the one (seemingly small) morning task that can help with productivity, and much more?
Updated: Feb 16
For many, before the pandemic, we lived with the daily grind - continuously mustering up all our energy to be productive. To get our work done. To continuously be motivated. To create good habits that help us succeed in the short & long run. So, when the pandemic hit, the lockdowns and quarantines have changed the way we work and live before we had a chance to figure out ways to adapt, let alone manage its psychological effect on our motivation and productivity.
The pandemic has pushed us to a whole new level of required motivation and productivity, at times, just to get out of bed. So to know there are small tasks that can help with productivity and motivation was definitely something I wanted to know more about. Today we'll be focusing on just one of these tasks (more to come soon), as it involves an action we can accomplish in the morning with intent and can motivative us to complete more. The resolution to make your bed.
If you search for "positive effects of making bed" you will get many results about how great it is to make your bed in the morning. Sources such as CNBC , Huffington Post, Psychology Today, Lifehack.org and others, have for many years told us that it's the most important task to accomplish in the morning. Personally, I didn't always make my bed. Despite my mom's pleads & reasons for doing it, I just didn't see the point. That is, until I had my own apartment and discovered that sense of pride when I would see my neat bed (vs a messy one). It felt good. Before leaving my room to start the day, I would look back at my styled bed and thought - nice job! It's such a quick and easy action, but for me (especially because I now live in a small NYC studio apartment), it makes a huge difference.
Our research found several sources were in agreement about the benefits of making your bed:
It is the first accomplished task of the day (apart from getting out of bed)
Lowers stress via the process of decluttering and creating a neat space
Less waste of mental energy resulting in calming mood - especially for those whose outer order contributes to inner calm
Starts the day of right
Leads to more productivity through the day
Helps create better habits for the long term
Sense of pride
In fact Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project found that when she asked what happiness-project resolution made a big difference to their happiness "many people cite the modest - making your bed." Rubin notes that "sticking to any resolution – no matter what it is – brings satisfaction. You’ve decided to make some change, and you’ve stuck to it. Because making my bed is one of the first things I do in the morning, I start the day feeling efficient, productive, and disciplined
Navy Seal William H. McCraven's UT 2014 commencement speech (or the emotive version on Motivation Hub), and author of Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World believes of this important habit, that “If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.”
Though during this pandemic, I went through a short time not making it because it was just how I was feeling - blah! So at a time when many of us are running out of steam, eleven or so months into the pandemic, can such a small task have positive effects on your motivation and productivity? I wanted to see if this changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Especially because many of us, at some point or another, had to, or chose to work on their bed.
What about during quarantine?
We found interesting research conducted in August 11, 2020 by Mattress Nerds where they asked 2,000 Americans if their bed-making habits have changed, or if they were making the effort to make the bed during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Additionally, Mattress Nerds found that 38% of respondents who made their bed daily, reported better sleep every night. We found quarantine bed topics included help on how to get a better night sleep, or sleep at all. The Sleep Foundation explains that "Frequently changing your sheets, fluffing your pillows, and making your bed can keep your bed feeling fresh, creating a comfortable and inviting setting to doze off."
Are there any downsides to making the bed?
We couldn't find any research into any psychological benefits of not making your bed. We did however find a few sources (we'd need to do more research on these, but for now...) stating that if you have debilitating allergies, maybe leaving your bed unmade could help keep dust mites in check. And another stating that you need to be careful with your back when making your bed. So we deduce that if you are washing your sheets frequently, and being careful when tucking or lifting, the psychological productivity benefits still stand for making your bed. As those issues affect most of us too.
So to make my bed or not?
So not much has really changed during quarantine. We found that recent sources include tips for sleep, and do include the habit of making your bed. The Sleep Foundation explains research from sleep experts about not working from your, and to help your bed feeling fresh, creating an inviting and comfortable can help with your sleep.
So if you would please excuse me, I have to go make my bed!