Adjusting to Improvement

We recently replaced our old mattress with one of those fancy new air beds with the number settings[1]. While the old mattress was just a bag of springs that you slept on, this new thing is more of a device. It plugs in, has a remote control and it changes based on our settings.

Reading through the setup documents, I learned something interesting. Most people need three or four days to get used to a new mattress. Our bodies adjust slowly, so it takes some time. Also, we don’t notice minor adjustments as clearly as major adjustments.

The instructions recommended setting the number and then using it for several days before changing. Then, if changes were necessary, those changes should be large enough to notice. And it got me thinking: this is true of lots of things.

In my effort to remove friction from my workflow, I have always recommended a similar strategy: observe the situation, reflect on solutions, and experiment until just right. Think first, then act.

My mattress has taught me that new solutions need to be tested for a while. Don’t give up on paper notebooks after the first day. Give your new schedule time to become familiar. Don’t hate your standing desk setup after the first week; it will take a good month for your feet and knees to get used to the changes. Everything takes time.

So, make a change and then wait a while. Evaluate the results, make adjustments, and then wait again. It takes time, but it’s the only way to find the best solutions to your challenges.


  1. It’s a little known fact that Sleep Number wasn’t the first air mattress company. Comfortaire is far older, and we liked their product better, so that’s who we picked.  ↩