If you don’t make your bed, that doesn’t make you a failure

You’ve probably heard some self-help or productivity guru parrot the claim that you should make your bed. Making your bed will supposedly help make you more successful.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” –Admiral William McRaven

As a life-long hater of bed-making, I couldn’t take it any longer. If making your bed will help make you more successful, then do successful people actually make their beds?


I’ve spent the past year on my podcast, Love Your Work, asking my guests whether or not they make their beds. Today, I’m reporting my findings.

Here are some highlights.

noah kagan

“I even make the bed in hotel rooms.”

Noah Kagan — AppSumo founder, and employee #30 at Facebook—was probably the most militant bed-maker of the group. Fittingly, he picked up the habit from a friend who was in the Israeli army. “You basically start off the day with a win,” he added.


Jason Fried

“I don’t like made beds.”

Jason Fried, CEO of Basecamp, and author of Rework, is known for questioning conventions. Do you really need meetings, and coworkers interrupting each other all of the time? It then follows that he would question whether a bed should be made at all. I’ve never liked to have my feet trapped between the sheets and the mattress, and Jason cites the same reason for not making his bed, adding that he sometimes “throws” the bed.


James Altucher

“I feel like it’s just the thing to do.”

We picture a successful person who makes their bed as someone with rock-solid discipline, who takes pride in attending to the details. That’s not why James Altucher, author of Choose Yourself, makes his bed. It’s just because he lives in AirBNBs. Since it’s not his place, he tries to keep it clean.


Laura Roeder

“No. Don’t be ridiculous!”

Laura Roeder‚ CEO of MeetEdgar, is probably the smartest person I interviewed over the past year. She flat-out rejected the entire concept of bed-making, adding “I inherently do not understand the making of beds. It’s weird.”


Dan Ariely

“I don’t.”

You’d think a behavioral scientist like Dan Ariely would take advantage of the supposed benefits of bed-making—that it can be a ritual for separating night and day, for example. But, the Predictably Irrational author is irrational in that respect. He mentioned he travels a great deal, and definitely doesn’t make his bed in hotel rooms. He added, “that would be a pretty obsessive personality, if you made your bed in a hotel room,” which doesn’t bode well for Noah Kagan.


Elise Bauer

“Eventually.”

If you work from home, you can give your bed a chance to air out a little if you are so inclined to make it. This is what Elise Bauer, founder of SimplyRecipes does. Apparently, making your bed right away can make a breeding ground for dust mites. That’s not very appetizing.


In the end, only 7 out of 20 of my guests were habitual bed-makers. This is no longitudinal study, but I feel pretty confident in saying that you can go ahead and not make your bed, and everything will be just fine.

To hear the whole story, as well as why I actually have started making my bed, listen to the very special episode of Love Your Work.