Why I Don’t Make my Bed


5 years ago, I wrote a piece about the habit of making my bed.

 I had been inspired by a 2014’s speech that went viral by Admiral William H. McRaven. And I started making my bed every morning.

What’s the situation five years later? Well, I don’t make my bed anymore. The habit lasted a couple of weeks, then I stopped doing it.

Here is how my bedroom looks like now:

Ugly, right?

It might not your cup of tea. But I think it has some merits.

Let’s explore why.

The pros of making your bed

First, let’s see the advantages of this habit. McRaven has exposed multiple arguments:

  • It’s a small win for your day.
  • It gives you momentum.
  • And if you’ve had a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made!

Obviously, it also looks nicer. And knowing that a bed takes a meaningful space in your room, having your bed made gives you a nice sensation of tidiness.

Lastly, Psychology Today cites a survey of 68,000 people where those who made their bed were happier (71% for bed makers vs 62% for non-bed-makers).

This study went viral on the internet. But let’s remind it’s a survey, not a study, which means data might be inaccurate. For example, some people might say they are happy just because it is more coherent with their previous answer.

The merits of *not* making your bed

Now let’s see the arguments for *not* making your bed.

The most obvious reason is time. If you spend 5 minutes each day making your bed, that makes about 30 hours per year. This means you lose 1 full day each year doing your bed, or almost two days of awaken time.

Another problem is that you need to air your bed to lower the number of dust mites in your bed, which causes asthma and other allergies. Dr Stephen Pretlove from Kingston University has made studies to back it up. And he advises to leave your bed unmade to banish those house dust mites.

Lastly, here’s another argument that underlines how wasteful this habit can be…

Wasted cognitive space

I just said earlier that you lose almost two days of awaken time a year when doing your bed each day. But it gets even worse.

Each day, you not only spend 5 minutes to do your bed. You also think about doing it when you are not doing it.

It’s another thing in your life that you must manage. Another chore added to the endless inventory of chores you already have, like doing the washing up and sweeping the floors.

Given all this wasted cognitive space, I think we really need to think again about this habit’s return on investment.

Messy productivity

This leads me to the concept of “messy productivity” that I also spoke about yesterday when I explained why I created an embarrassingly messy blog.

Sometimes, to make things happen, we need to deeply focus on the core value of what we produce and forget the rest.

Yes, aesthetics are pleasant. Yes, it can feel good to do a simple task as making your bed. But we can’t spend our life on making sure everything looks perfect.

That’s why I got accustomed to my messy bed. And how I saved hundreds of hours to do what I love to do, such as writing this article.

About the author 

Alex Philippe

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