In the same way baby steps lead to success, small habits have the ability to change your life.
For most people, it takes about two months for a habit to become an automatic behavior. This means that after two months of waking up every morning to grab your phone and scroll through countless TikToks or answering emails before you get up it ends up becoming an unconscious habit. It’s the equivalent of automatically stretching your body out after opening your eyes. You don’t think about these things, you just do them.
But these unconscious habits ultimately lead to minor inconveniences in many ways. For example, wasting time on your phone every morning leads to procrastination, plus, you’re using up dopamine (a neurotransmitter responsible for motivation, pleasure, and learning) in the process, delaying even more activities that require you to have energy to complete. Think of dopamine as an action currency. The more you release dopamine by engaging in unconscious and time-consuming behaviors like watching TikToks in the morning, or even smoking and drinking coffee, the less you’ll have left to spend on the tasks that really matter to you.
The best way to counteract this vicious cycle of wasting time and being low in dopamine is to start with the activities that require less dopamine first. One example of such an activity that is powerful yet simple is making your bed in the morning!
Making Your Bed Makes the Rest of Your Day
I know, it seems sort of cheesy. How could something like making your bed be “life-changing”? It may not be groundbreaking or reality shifting for some people, but I think for many who have fallen into depression, bad habits, or simply a "funk", it can be transformational. Besides, the smallest things can oftentimes make the biggest impact on our lives. Perhaps making your bed is more impactful than we realize. Even the socio-economist Randal Bell, Ph.D, noticed that many of the successful people he studied shared this one thing in common: they all made their beds.
“Those who do their chores and keep their living space tidier tend to make more money,” writes Bell. “For example, those who make their bed in the morning are up to 206.8 percent more likely to be millionaires.”
Those who make their bed in the morning are up to 206.8% more likely to be millionaires.
Another relevant quote is from William McRaven, retired U.S. Navy Admiral Seal: “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.”
He adds, “If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made – that you made.”
I believe that McRaven is on to something here. In completing the task of making your bed, you get that little push to continue on with your to-do’s or tasks. Ignoring the little things may cause you to do the same for larger tasks. It’s like the dish washing analogy: the longer you ignore the dishes, the more they pile up. In the end, you have a full sink to take care of, which is more daunting than a couple of dishes and utensils. But by taking action in the present moment, you get to feel more accomplished and the tasks no longer seem so scary.
Now, I’m not saying that unsuccessful people don’t make their beds, nor am I saying that all successful individuals do. What I am saying, though, is that this small step can create a ripple effect in someone’s life by creating better habits for themselves. Not grabbing your phone or laptop immediately upon waking and instead getting up to fix your bed is already a massive change for plenty of people. Doing it every day creates mental discipline.
The act in and of itself is a great exercise for increasing mindfulness and awareness. By setting the intention of starting your day by doing the small act of tidying up your bed, you’re sending a message to yourself that you value your time and space, and you intend to take charge of your day. The added bonus is the feeling of accomplishment that you get after, regardless of how small it may seem. This small sense of satisfaction can act as the ignition to check off the remainder of your goals.
In fact, you could even test this. Wake up one day and use your phone and lie there and see how you feel after. I know, personally, I feel sluggish and I don’t have that sense of needing to be productive at all. Now, do the opposite and fix your bed. See how your mood and priorities shift. According to a poll by Best Mattress Brand, out of 1,000 people who took it, 82% said that making their bed in the morning allowed them to be more productive and 74% of them said they felt more accomplished at the end of the day, compared to just 50%.
How One Influencer Recognized the Importance of Bed Making
In the case of one Instagram influencer and business owner, Jennifer Bilicek, making her bed was a daily habit that was instilled into her as a child by her parents. It wasn’t until 2020 that she noticed the power that it had. One day, she posted a poll on her IG stories with the simple question: “Did you make your bed today?”
“In a time (during the pandemic) where we were all looking for some direction, community, accountability and something to look forward to – I started getting messages from my followers talking about how much they loved this simple poll I posted,” Lauren told us. “They told me stories of how they never used to make their bed, but because of the poll, started doing it every morning! They looked forward to being able to say ‘yes I did’ on my poll each day. They told me how they felt more productive, accomplished, more motivated and they felt happier! All from starting the simple habit of making their beds. In 2020, we all needed those things!”
Today, Lauren still posts the same poll on her IG stories periodically. In May, she launched her first-ever 60 Day Girl, Make Your Bed Challenge. She described the challenge to us, saying, “60 days of making our bed every, single, day! No matter what day of the week, where we are (traveling or at home), and whether we are feeling up to it or not! 60 consecutive days of making our beds.”
Little habits pave the way for healthier and more conscious actions, transforming your life.
Lauren understands how making your bed is a springboard for making other positive changes in your life, telling us, “This challenge is about far more than just making our beds. We are focusing on all areas of life improvement and talking about health, family, finance, personal style, personal brands, future goals, and so much more.”
Just two days into the challenge, Lauren had already received positive feedback, including a message from a girl who has had crippling anxiety for several weeks, but felt hopeful and excited that this challenge could help pull her out of her “funk.” Lauren and her followers aren’t just focused on making their beds prettier in the morning – they picked up this challenge because they wanted to improve in all aspects of their lives. They recognize that these little habits pave the way for healthier and more conscious actions, transforming their lives in the process.
So you see, small acts are proven to be very powerful. If you haven’t already been doing so, start your day off right by gaining the willpower to tidy up the bed you sleep in. It’s the baby steps that count. These small acts of mindfulness go a long way, and you never know... making your bed may just wind up changing your life too.