The Motivation-Productivity Problem
There has been considerable evidence lately indicating that low motivation and low productivity are problems that affect many people. A survey by the Pew Research center showed that 42% workers aged 18-29 reported feeling unmotivated. Low motivation can also lead to other effects, such as a decline in physical activity, which can then have its own health implications. However, there is the good news about the easy and simple task that can greatly help alleviate the issue - making your bed in the morning.
Making your bed is not going to immediately solve the reported motivation problem. If you’re concerned about a more serious mental or physical health concern related to low productivity, making your bed is also not a solution, (and it might be worth talking to a professional who can point you in the right direction). However, it’s still a great first step.
Who Makes Their Bed?
There have been many people who tried to alleviate the problems of low motivation and low productivity - for example, lifestyle influencers (Figure 1).
Why does a common morning routine include this? (Figure 2)
Even powerful people have spoken about the importance of making your bed. For example, Navy Admiral William H. McRaven gave a speech at the University of Texas in 2014. The speech touched on many profound topics, including success after graduation and how to change lives. Those are things that may require a great deal of motivation and productivity.
McRaven provided an anecdote about when he started making his bed. “The wisdom of this simple act has been proven many times over,” States McRaven. “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished your first task of the day. It will encourage you to do another task, and then another task,” he continues. Is there science behind what McRaven is stating? Why is making your bed so special?
The answer is dopamine, a neurotransmitter that acts as a pleasure and reward center in your brain. Motivation and mood are a few things that it is directly responsible for. Among the myriad of ways to create dopamine, making your bed is one of the best of them.
Dopamine’s connection to making your bed is simple - dopamine is released when you complete a task. As McRaven explains, “At the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.” When you get things done, you feel a boost in mood and motivation. You can then use this motivation to be more productive. Making your bed can be an easy, inexpensive, and quick task to start your day with a dopamine boost.
The Little Things
In addition to dopamine, making your bed can yield additional benefits. For example, it puts into perspective how excellence at everyday tasks is still a part of achieving aspirational goals. As again explained by McRaven, ‘If you can’t do the little things right, you'll never be able to do the big things right.”
Making your bed plays a significant role in maintaining a tidy living space, as a bed occupies a substantial portion of the room (Figure 3). It’s unrealistic to expect a room to stay clean 100% of the time. However, keeping the bed made can still make it look a little cleaner.
Even after adopting this positive habit, challenges may persist. McRaven touches on this idea when he explains, “if … you have a miserable day, you’ll come home to a bed … that you made, [which] will give you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.” By making your bed, you give yourself a reset and ensure that at least one thing in your day goes well.
Low motivation can lead to low productivity. Although it’s not a solution to everything, making your bed can help you have better days. While making your bed may not be a cure-all, it can significantly contribute to better days amid low motivation. The act releases dopamine, elevating your mood and motivation. The aesthetics of your living space are influenced by a well-made bed, irrespective of the overall room cleanliness. The dopamine boost from this task might even inspire motivation to keep the entire room tidy. Making your bed is an excellent way to commence and conclude your days, potentially serving as a step toward achieving aspirational goals. To echo McRaven one final time, “If you wanna change the world, start by making your bed.”
Edited by: Matsoarelo Makuke
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