During Episode #5, John and I talked for more than 18 minutes about making our beds. That’s a lot of time devoted to a rather mundane task. Still, the talk resonated with me for days.
We were discussing how to build healthy routines and why they’re essential to living a happy life. Making a bed may seem like a trivial task, unworthy of a second thought. But I’m going out on a limb to state that making the bed is the most important task of the day.
Think of your day as a series of layers. These layers, once applied, are incredibly resilient, structurally sound, and immovable.
When you wake up, you begin layering your day with activities. You can choose to make your bed, or not. That choice is the first layer of the day. It’s foundational.
When I make my bed, I experience a success. I’ve built a solid foundation on which to apply the next layer. That next layer will likely be more consequential. Perhaps it will be a choice of a healthy or unhealthy breakfast. Maybe it will be a decision about going to the gym.
Here’s where “habit” becomes important. Removing the executive decision-making process turns stacking healthy layers into a frictionless behavior. Remove the decision and you have a healthy default activity.
When making your bed becomes a habit, you remove choice and begin the day with a solid foundation by default, clearing the way for the next positive layer to be applied.
It may sound hyperbolic, but that little bed-making success creates a positive momentum that propels you to the next layer. As I said earlier, the day is a series of these layers.
As a business consultant, I preach the value of reserving executive action for only the most essential decisions. For instance, when the data says profitability is down, but costs and sales are consistent, it’s not really an “executive decision” to raise prices. The data IS the decision.
You can skip the debate and immediately take action. That’s how an efficient organization works. It conserves energy. In this case, the energy conserved is executive decision-making, which should only be applied to matters that data and habit doesn’t apply (in business, habit is called “best practice” or “policy”).
As good data analysis liberates the executive from making unnecessary decisions, good habits do the same. You don’t need data to tell you that making a bed is a good decision, you just need a routine of bed-making.
If you’re an inconsistent bed maker, you begin every day with the same dumb meeting. It’s the meeting about whether or not to make the bed. It’s a waste of time.
Are you a bed maker or not? If you are, don’t waste mental resources deciding to make your bed. Just do it. Or don’t do it. But don’t make it a decision, make it a habit.