Navigating the dual challenge of home working

Companies want their staff to keep focused while working at home and also enable them to properly switch off at the end of the day for their wellbeing.  When these two activities take place in the same location, firms must recognise and address how to meet these challenges to avoid blurred lines or ‘always on’ burnout.

Now we are back on a mandated work-from-home again, with only 40% of those working from home having a dedicated desk or office, with the rest making do with a shared space such as the kitchen or dining table (29%) or the bedroom (31%)*, it’s clear the challenge is a very practical one that we need right now.

I experienced way before the pandemic when working from home three years ago.  I was mess stressed and needed to sort out the piles that were a distraction – and used my corporate systems/process improvement skills to create the Serenely Sorted System.  This system that now supports corporates and individuals in creating home spaces that allow both focus while working and switch off at the end of the day.  Here are my tips on how you can do the same.

1. Remove the distraction of the ‘daily debris’ in your home

Two thirds (64%) of workers say a messy desk reduces their productivity or causes distractions – so what can we do to remove the distractions?  The things out on our surfaces not only distract by their presence – but in what they represent – think of the pile of paper that you haven’t got round to sorting, but you know probably contains an unpaid bill.  To begin to remove this daily debris from your desk and surrounds, note down your top three mess makers and create ‘End Homes’ for them – a place where they will live in a drawer or cupboard.  Then ensure you put those things back to their end homes when you’ve used them.

2. Pack up your stuff at the end of the day

If you work from the kitchen table or the bedroom, but don’t clear it at the end of the day, it’s very difficult to switch off from work.  Use a tote bag or box for your work stuff just like you would if hot desking – to fit laptop, notebooks, chargers etc.  It’s very easy and quick then to get this out and put it back in the bag at the end of the day in the Serenely Sorted ‘Use-in-one-move’ approach.  This avoids the endless moving of piles from one place to another, or the temptation to just leave everything out and be triggered by that email ping.

3. Start thinking about your behaviour around your stuff and cut out the mess middleman

In order to relax outside work, we can reduce the time we need to spend tidying by thinking about the things we tend to plonk down on surfaces.  Pick just one to start with and decide that it has an End Home.  For example, create your handbag ‘end home’ with a basket on a shelf.  Next time you go out, take it from that basket and – the important bit – put it straight back there after – bypassing the kitchen worktop.

4. Don’t lose it when you lose it

There will be some things that are more important than kryptonite within your work stuff – like the dongle to log in.  By creating rock-solid end homes for these priceless items, and mindfully returning them to the end homes at the end of your work day, you’ll always be able to find them.  This may sound simple, but we’ve all lost the keys to the shed and had a few stressful hours as a result.

 5. Mindfully Make it a Habit and your home will become a haven

Once we mindfully do something repeatedly, we can form a habit that will create change for life. Force yourself to use those End Homes for a few weeks and it will start to feel less and less like tidying anymore.  And – not only will you be able to focus at work, you’ll be able to relax at home with clear surfaces knowing you’ve saved weekend time on tidying. Win-win.

* Kantar survey commissioned by Serenely Sorted, March 2021

Diana Spellman is the Realistic Home Organisation Expert and Founder of Serenely Sorted. 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 both individuals and corporates to bring the benefits of Serenely Sorted to those working from home or experiencing mess stress, via webinars, online courses or 1-2-1.  Find out more at or  .  Book a discovery call to find out the best way for you or your staff to get started with the system.  You can also follow @serenely.sorted on Instagram for regular tips to support your Serenely Sorted journey!  Find Diana on LinkedIn here


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