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Why it is important to make your bed

Make your bed.

In 2014 Admiral McRaven gave a fantastic Commencement speech at the University of Austin. Amongst other things, he happens to be the commander of the forces who lead the raid on Osama Bin Laden. In his speech he talked about the importance of making your bed in the morning.

“Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack – that’s Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task – mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over. 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.”


I think the lesson of making your bed in the morning can teach us a couple of things.

1. How you start your day sets the tone for the rest of the day.

If you make a point to start your day on the right foot then it will have a ripple effect on the rest of your day. Start by going to bed at a sensible time the night before. It’s hard to have a good day if you are tired and grumpy. Get as much ready the night before as possible. I get my clothes out the night before and prepare as much of everybody’s packed lunches as possible.
Before you get up tell yourself that you are going to make a good day today. (It might sound cheesy, but it works!) 

Make time to exercise in the morning. I do the Canadian Air forces 5BX routine every morning which takes 10 minutes. The New York Times even has a 7 minute routine. Exercising releases the chemical endorphin in your body – which feels similar to morphine. Exercise also gets the blood flowing to the brain which helps you think.

Allow buffer time to get to the office so you don’t start the work day behind already. Review your task list. Pick your top priorities. Organize your day. Complete one of your top priorities within the first half hour.

2. Attention to detail matters.

If you can’t do the small things correctly, you will never do the big things correctly. I’m sure we have all wasted time trying to get a script to work, just to find out there is a missing comma. These small details can be make or break. If you are working on a spreadsheet and multiply a value by 1.0 instead of 10 you can miscalculate the result by a lot! If you are writing an email and forget to spellcheck it, a typo can make you look less professional. If you accidentally put in a double space after a period, you might give the impression you learned to type on a typewriter! If you forget to check your schedule when you go out for lunch and arrive back 10 minutes late for a 1pm meeting, you have wasted someone else’s valuable time, you have given the impression they aren’t important to you and your tardiness could have a knock on effect on both your schedules. Details matter.

I encourage you to open the speech in another tab and take a listen to the whole thing, Admiral McRaven shares some other great lessons too.


The habit on this one is quite simple – when you get up then make your bed straight away.