Many companies have adopted hybrid working as long-term strategies in the aftermath of the pandemic. In this new world, there are new challenges to address. Whilst we have managed to wing it for the past year with our desks in the dining room, or a dressing table used to make-work rather than make-up. But now, as World Mental Health Day is upon us, it’s time to address the elephant that’s also in that room: the mess stress.
There are many great benefits to working from home – the lack of commute, putting a load of washing on at lunchtime, ability to avoid some of the office distractions. But home itself can be a big distraction, not to mention that it is our, well, home.
Our homes should be our place to relax, our havens, where we can unwind, relax with family and feel at peace. This past year, we’ve just accepted the impact that work life merging into our homes has had, but now that it is set to be part of our lives for the long term, we owe it to ourselves and our staff to unblur the lines between home and work and reduce that mess stress that distracts us from work, and prevents us from switching off at the end of the day.
A Kantar survey commissioned by Serenely Sorted revealed that 82% of us have experienced ‘mess stress’ – the feeling that mess in your home negatively affects your mood, causes overwhelm or prevents you from relaxing. This is not just the effect of the messy desk around us, but that of the home environment itself. Some home workers have the advantage of a dedicated workspace to block it out physically at least if not mentally, but with 60% lacking a dedicated desk at home, making do with a shared space such as the kitchen or dining table (29%) or the bedroom (31%), the distractions of the home are right there.
“Distracted. Annoyed. Anxious. Unhappy. Can’t relax. Irritated. Stressful” – just some of the feelings evoked by mess stress
Without the ability to reduce the mess stress to allow focus while working, or mechanisms in place to enable us to close off from the work at the end of the day, the lines will remain blurred with the danger that we will never get that much needed ‘home haven’, unable to fully switch off from our day jobs at night.
The double-edged sword of mess stress: effecting the ability to focus while working and fully switch off at the end of the day
“There’s just stuff everywhere and it gets me down and I struggle to prioritize work”
“It distracts me from being productive.”
“I’m more focused on the mess than I am my work”
“No peace of mind as it’s always at the back of your head”
These quotes are how people described the impact of mess on their well-being – clearly impacting their ability to work, and more importantly their mental health as they attempt to unwind at the end of the day. Companies have a responsibility to support workers in the navigation of hybrid working. While the benefits of homeworking in general are clear, this real and present danger of mess stress impacting both work and home life must be addressed with equal priority.
Does your staff wellness programme help you to address your mess stress?
Staff wellness and mental health are top of the agenda for many businesses, but how far and how practical are the programmes in place? If you look at what’s on offer in your workplace this week to mark World Mental Health Day (10th October), is this area practically covered, or brushed under the carpet (along with the mess)?
Given the impact of mess on our ability to concentrate on work, and its impact on our mental health, the conclusion is clear: 79% of workers would be likely to take up the offer of a programme that would help reduce the mess distraction and enable them to relax at home more.
Press delete on the daily debris distractions
I created the Serenely Sorted System three years ago when I experienced mess stress when working from home – ahead of the pandemic curve. I couldn’t focus with the nagging voice in my head reminding me of all the piles, nor switch off from work on my precious time off. Not only that, I resented all the time I spent at weekends on tidying tasks.
With my corporate background in systems and process improvement, I decided to tackle my mess stress head-on and created a system that used simple behaviour change and a realistic home organisation system to effectively change my life.
I went from spending 2-3 hours a week on average (up to ‘off the scale’ when tidying the kid’s rooms!) to less than 10 minutes a day. My home is tidier than it ever was, my mess stress is 100% gone and I can truly switch off from work at the end of the day. The Serenely Sorted System is for the whole family, with children and adults all able to get back to tidy at the end of the day with far less effort than before.
Let’s have our cake and eat it
There are so many benefits to adopting ways of eliminating mess at home. We free up hours of time for ourselves, reduce the distractions that impact our productivity and ability to focus on work and have a really practical way of improving our mental health. It’s a win-win all round for both individuals and employers navigating the new work/life blend. And of course, we get tidier homes! So perhaps in this case we can all have our cake and eat it (in a tidy kitchen)!
Contact Diana Spellman for a discovery call to see how you can bring Serenely Sorted’s Less Mess Stress webinar to your organisation, or to your own life via a course or 1-2-1 programme to rid your mess stress and reclaim your home as your haven. Don’t wait for the next mental health awareness day to address the elephant in the dining room – all the tools are here waiting right now.
Diana Spellman is the Realistic Home Organisation Expert and Founder of Serenely Sorted. With 25 years corporate experience in systems/process improvement, she used those skills to address the ‘Mess Stress’ in her own life after working from home meant she couldn’t get away from the piles that had built up over time – and created the unique Serenely Sorted System. This realistic home organization approach combines efficiency with behaviour and mindset change and is achievable and sustainable for anyone – including the kids! Diana works with busy people in-person, virtually and via her online course to help them save time, ditch the drudgery and get more peace in their homes – for the long term! Find out more at www.serenelysorted.com and follow @serenely.sorted on Instagram for regular stories.
* Source: Nationally representative survey of 250 UK respondents conducted by Kantar during March 2021.