How many motivational speeches or influencers have told you the trick to their success is making their bed every day? Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, considered this a “keystone habit” because it increases productivity, encourages more good behavior, helps you stick to a plan/budget, etc.
I call boohickey.
I’ve never liked making my bed. Yes, I love how it looks when it is made, but the process of making it every morning knowing I’m going to crawl right back into it when I come home seemed like a wasted effort. I’m never in my room when I’m home. I try to keep that as the place where I sleep and get ready and nothing else.
After college, I moved in with my cousin and friend. It was a two bedroom apartment but the master was HUGE. We had two queen beds, two desks, night stands, an incredible pile of clutter, and still had enough floor space to hold a private yoga class. We’ve been close all our lives so sharing a room with my cousin was no biggie. When I first moved in, I’d come home from work and my bed would be made! My cousin loves a clean bed. It was such a sweet gesture and it definitely made the room look a lot neater, but it just wasn’t something I ever cared to do. (She also gave up on making my bed when she realized I’d never do it on my own – sorry, Riss!)
And yet, after all these years, I’ve still wrestled with this. Everyone talks about how they can’t leave the house without a made bed, how they don’t understand how people get anything done if they can’t even make their bed, how stressed out they become when their room is disheveled (I’ll give them that one – if you spend a lot of time in your room). I’ve tried (really really hard) to make it a point to make my bed each morning. But when I’d come home, I wouldn’t even appreciate it. Those three extra minutes yanking the sheets I kicked all the way to the bottom of the bed, bending over 10 times to pick up every throw pillow that fell off throughout the night and hopping from one side to the other (while trying not to knock the contents of my night stand off), was a really exhausting way to start my day.
I decided it wasn’t for me. But the premise of beginning your day with an accomplished task or setting the tone for the rest of the day — now that intrigued me.
Lewis Howes had Bob Proctor on his podcast “The School of Greatness” and he shared his morning routine of writing down five things he’s grateful for. He even went so far to write it with his less dominant hand because it forced him to slow down, think about every letter and put intentionality into his list.
Ed Mylett shares the same theory. Rather than waking up, allowing the bright light from your phone wake up your senses, struggle to see through your crusty eyes and immediately jump into emails or social media, he reserves the first 30 minutes and last 30 minutes of his day to choose what he wants to think about. It could be meditation, prayer, journaling. I had all the praise hands go up when he said, “Why am I going to start my day reacting to other people or what they need FROM me?”
Over the last two weeks, I have spent the first 20-30 minutes of my day in my journal. I set my alarm a bit earlier to allow me to have the time. Turn it off and leave my phone in my room. I head to my dining table where my journal, Bible and a devotional are waiting for me. I start with my devo, write down my prayer and then jot down five things I’m grateful for.
After a few days, you can’t help but feel unoriginal for writing “Waking up. This home. My dogs.” more than once, so it challenges you to think of those small, easy-to-forget moments from the day prior that made a difference. Now I’m writing things like, “Had to buy an expensive gift at Target, but when I got there they had a $30 gift card for that exact item so it really helped. Woke up and realized I forgot blow out a candle from the night before – nothing was damaged! Traffic wasn’t as bad as Waze predicted and I got home 10 minutes earlier than expected. Steven cooked an amazing dinner for me – even though he’d worked almost 12 hours that day. A friend texted me and it made me feel loved.” Now that’s a habit I can get on board with!
Not only does it get easier to make the list, but you start noticing those “in between” moments throughout the day. Whenever something less than great happens, you can see the positive or the way out or the triviality of it before it ruins your day because you already recognize all the other reasons why you’re grateful.
For me, I didn’t want my lists to live on my phone. It’s too great of a temptation. Plus, like Proctor said, when you put pen to paper, you’re that much more mindful of your words. Even when I travel, I’m lugging around this huge journal to keep a running list. I love being able to go back and read previous lists because I forget all too quickly those everyday moments.
- Set your alarm for 20 minutes earlier.
- Say a prayer and ask for an open heart and mind to recall what you’ve been given.
- Journal away from your phone/computer.
- Write 5 things you’re grateful for (try to keep it unique and reflective of the day prior).
- Go about your day feeling incredibly
Bonus: since doing this, I’ve had the greatest sales month of my career (and we’re barely halfway through the month). It was unexpected. May have nothing to do with this daily practice. Or maybe it has everything to do with this daily practice. Regardless, I enter each day feeling more and more renewed and grateful so when blessings come FLOWING down, I can’t help but feel that much more excited for the next day and the next. I’m no longer dreading each day because I have so much to look forward to. I’m in a state of expectation and anticipation because when I fan through my lists, how could I not have total faith that God has so much in store for me?