I once did a consultation for a family who asked me to do a healthy home survey for a property they were thinking of buying. We met at the family’s current home and drove from there to the proposed new home.
What I found so interesting was how messy and cluttered the current house was, with clothes and children’s toys strewn all over the floors of just about every room and passageway, and how neat and ordered the new house was. Both were occupied by families of two adults and two small children, and both mothers were full-time mums, but the way they ran their homes and brought up their children was so different.
‘Ah, yes,’ said the mother of the beautifully tidy home, when I commented on how well organized it was. ‘Even when my children were too small to make their own beds, I taught them to at least try to pull the covers up even the tiniest bit.’ She mimed a toddler attempting with all their might to pull their bed cover just a few inches up the bed. ‘It begins with something as simple as that.’
Making your bed is a keystone habit
The value of making your bed each morning lies in what it can lead to. When you begin your day in this way, it sets a certain structure in place for everything you subsequently do, and creates a clear and welcoming space for you to return to each night.
It’s what’s known as a keystone habit, which means that doing it each morning makes it more likely that you will maintain other good habits and have a more productive day.
When you leave your bedding in a messy heap, you will tend to muddle through until it’s time to fall back into bed again.
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.
By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
From Navy SEAL Commander, Admiral Bill McRaven’s commencement address: Lessons learned from Navy Seal training
Isn’t it better to air your bed each day?
Whenever I bring this topic up, there are always people who protest that it’s better to leave a bed unmade so that it can air all day.
Scientific studies have shown that the average bed is infested with over a million dust mites, and airing it can deprive them of the moisture they need to stay alive. I agree that it’s a good idea to peel back the bedding while you’re showering and getting ready each morning. But leaving it unmade all day is not going to kill all dust mites.
A much better solution is to invest in dust mite proof covers for pillows and mattresses to prevent mites from getting in there in the first place. To reduce dust mite populations in a mattress that is already infested, sprinkle it with food grade diatomaceous earth and leave it at least 12 hours before vacuuming it up (it’s non-toxic to humans but kills mites, fleas and bed bugs very effectively). You can do the same with pillows, cushions and teddy bears, or put them in the freezer for 24 hours a few times a year (freezing kills all mites).
Of course, dust mites thrive on dust, so having a clean, clutter-free bedroom really helps to keep mite populations down. And washing your bedding once a week in hot water is a must.
People with structure get things done
In my experience of working with thousands of people around the world, in person and through my online courses, the benefits of making your bed each morning far outweigh any other considerations. It’s a daily habit that helps to build structure, and it’s an undeniable fact that people with structure get things done.
People who have structure are able to navigate life’s challenges, find solutions, and achieve great things. They are people of will. Conversely, people who lack structure are buffeted about by the winds of change, and tend to lead less satisfying lives, always wondering how to find more fulfillment.
And how do you build will, I hear you ask? In my Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui book, I explain that this is one of those million dollar questions, with no single or simple answer. Will has to be deliberately cultivated, a thousand times a day in every little way. Begin small and work your way up to great acts of will, which are sure to have a resounding effect in every aspect of your life.
So can making your bed really make a difference? When you do it with the express intention of creating a more structured start and end to your day, it most certainly can. Try it yourself for a few weeks and see.
Zero Procrastination online course
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Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2014, revised 2018