I work from home. I worked from home pre-pandemic, and I’ll continue working from home whenever people go back to their offices. I’ve worked hard to make working from home my reality, because I like it and it suits me.
Office environments don’t suit me, and neither does having one full-time job. I much prefer long-term contracts or part time work or big short-term projects. I like doing different work for different clients; it keeps my days interesting and it keeps me from getting bored.
However, I am also clinically depressed, and oftentimes lack motivation to really bring on the day, as they say. I’m a competent enough worker (and good enough at what I do) to get things done, but I’ve been looking to develop healthy, simple habits that will boost my mood and make me feel a bit more motivated.
The articles and anecdotes
In comes making the bed. I’ve read a handful of articles—and heard several personal anecdotes from pals and peers—about the magic of making your bed. A 2018 poll conducted by Sleepopolis and OnePoll found that making the bed could positively impact my mood. According to Dr. Randall Bell, author of the book Rich Habits Rich Life, highly productive people tend to make their beds in the morning, too. Then there’s the speech by retired Navy Admiral, William H. McRaven, that went semi-viral in 2014.
“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day,” says McRaven in his commencement speech to the graduates of The University of Texas at Austin. “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.”
Of course, there’s no science behind this. It’s simply a really inspiring anecdote from a really accomplished guy. And the science behind the aforementioned poll and book is shaky too. The studies aren’t formal, and a lot of it has to do with self-reporting rather than an experiment in a controlled environment. Still, I figure, what will taking five minutes every morning to intentionally make my bed cost me? Not much, so maybe it’s worth a try.
And here’s the thing: I enjoy having a nicely made bed; I know it gives me a sense of calm and some kind of pride. But I make the bed sporadically, often in the afternoon or even at night. I do it whenever I go upstairs and have a few minutes, or when I’m doing something in the bedroom (like exercising or reading), because I’ll want the space to feel less chaotic. Making the bed is a habit I like having, I just want to make it more regular in terms of time of day.
So, here’s my little test:
Make the bed for 7 days, at the same time (or at the same point) every day.
Start with clean everything (sheets, clean duvet cover, clean comforter, clean blankets) and a made bed.
Start with a clean me, a clean boyfriend, and clean pets.
I figure I’ll feel more driven to continue with the test if I put a little work in at the beginning. Changing the sheets on a king size bed is a pain in the butt to begin with, and laundering a king comforter is a very specific form of self-torment. So is bathing two dogs who do not like being bathed. But, again, if everything and everyone is clean to begin with, I think, it’ll up the ante.
Day zero: test prep
Spending my Sunday cleaning is par for the course, but adding the comforter and the dogs really turned it into a day. Luckily, I have an outdoor clothesline and it was sunny all day, so drying the comforter was easy. The dogs were another story. One of them hates baths but has accepted them as a reality. The other is a one-and-a-half-year-old ball of energy and attitude, and he really hates baths. I have to leash him to the stair railing outside while he winces and whines, as though I’m hurting him somehow.
Once all the bed linens are dry, I make the bed, which is a chore (stuffing a king comforter into a duvet cover is just un-fun). It looks nice, and I’m sorta excited to go to sleep.
I will say, though, that there’s no better feeling than climbing into bed (1) physically tired from a day of manual labor and (2) totally freaking clean. It’s so pleasant and so satisfying.
Day one: bed-making enthusiasm
I’m rested, up, and ready for my day! I have a sense of accomplishment from yesterday, so I feel really excited to make the bed. I have a productive feeling and a positive outlook for the rest of the day
Day two: begrudging bed making
I ended up having a pretty rough day yesterday and slept for a long time. I’m really cozy and comfy and sleepy when I wake up, so getting up and starting my day is hard. I’m making the bed because I told myself I had to, and it actually makes me feel a little bit better. I guess my bedroom feeling neat and tidy first thing in the morning is making me feel more prepared for the day.
Day three: bed-making indifference
I feel okay when I wake up today; not great but not bad… just a normal morning. My boyfriend helps me make the bed even though it takes longer when he helps, but it’s nice to do something together in the morning. Overall, I don’t really care about my made up bed today, but I’m not upset about making it.
Day four: enthusiasm strikes again
So, I’m really happy today because a side-effect of making the bed, which is bringing me joy, is that usually my sheets are getting a little dirty because of the dogs by the fourth day after washing. But since I’m making the bed every day, they’re staying clean!
Day five: riding the enthusiasm train
I love waking up with the comforter and sheets in their proper places. It’s really nice to go to sleep without having to unjumble the covers. I’m also super stoked the bed isn’t dirty; usually the dogs will track a little bit of dirt and sand in there because they love to snuggle together in the bed (we like to think the younger dog calls it “the big squish”).
Day six: sleepy, lazy, rainy
It’s gross and humid and rainy outside, and I do not want to get up. Actually, the only reason I do get up is because the dogs need a walk and are annoying me. I don’t make the bed before I walk them, and come back a wet, grumpy mess. I take a shower and put on fresh clothes and decide to make the bed. I’m pretty grumpy still, and one of the dogs jumped on the unmade bed and made it dirty. So I remember all the reasons to make the bed before I walk the dogs!
Day seven: contentment
This is the only day I physically have to go into work. I always wake up super early on this day of the week, because I want to walk the dogs, get in a workout, shower, make coffee, do my makeup, make my lunch, pick out an outfit, etc.
I’m up before my boyfriend and walk the dogs and work out. He makes the bed by himself today because I’m busy, which I appreciate. Coming home after a long day, I often just want to veg out in bed. I lie down, but only for 15 minutes or so. When the bed isn’t made, I usually curl up and fall asleep, which makes going to bed at bedtime really, really difficult. So I’m really pleased with how the bed being made is making me think twice about taking a nap at a bad time!
My final thoughts
Obviously, a week of incorporating change isn’t really enough to establish a habit, but I’m gonna keep going because I like making my bed. I like the way it makes me feel calm, and I do have a weird sense of accomplishment from completing a small task. It also keeps my bed WAY CLEANER, which is honestly maybe my favorite part.