Every morning, just before it’s time to head off to work, I make the bed. I pull the sheets taut, put the pillows back in their place, adjust the blanket so that it’s the same length on all sides of the bed, and make sure there are no wrinkles to be seen. Making the bed is just part of the morning ritual that means I’m now ready to face the day — but apparently not everybody does it.
I read an interesting piece recently about the simple act of making your bed, and what it means. It’s entitled The Unmade Bed and the Fall of Civilization, which is a little over the top, but the essential point holds: little things matter. They’re not significant by themselves, but they can add up to big things — and it really doesn’t take much time to take care of them, when you think about it.
So why not do those little things?
Clean off your dishes and put them in the dishwasher, so they’re not left for your spouse or roommate to deal with, and then rinse down the sink. Hang up your coat and your clothing rather than tossing them over a chair. Put old magazines and newspapers into the recycling bin. Pick up after yourself, and when you leave a room see that it’s tidy. Take out the trash before the wastebaskets are full to overflowing. And make your bed.
I was a total slob in college — who wasn’t? — but when I graduated and moved into the working phase of my life I decided I needed more order. The best way to accomplish that was to start to do those little tasks myself. I found that it not only made our place look better, it also made me feel better, both when I was doing those little chores and when I got home to a place that was neat and shipshape. Doing those things made me feel like I was was pitching in, carrying my share of the household load, and actually behaving like an adult. After college, that seemed like a worthy goal. Now it’s all habit — but I still like the feeling I get when I do those little things.
So every morning, I make the bed. And by the way, if you make the bed properly, when you climb back into bed at night you’ll find that the sheets are cool and inviting, even on a hot Midwestern summer evening. It’s just one of the benefits of trying to live an orderly life.