More home working is likely to be a permanent fixture for a majority of businesses, according to the BBC (5th October 2020). It’s now time to address the challenges of homeworking head-on, and deal with the mess stress it can cause. If you are trying to work but can see piles of stuff around you, or you can always see that laptop and work notebook staring at you – even during the evening, this can cause an inability to unwind from work or switch off.
We need ways to redress the balance and feel calm at home. We need ways of eeking a few minutes peace in our day when, even if we pause for lunch or dinner, we’re not just staring at a visible domestic to-do list which never ends.
I experienced exactly this last Summer when I was working from home and the piles were building up working from home and I just couldn’t get away from that nagging voice in her head reminding me to tidy – I was mess stressed! Resenting the time spent tidying during my time off taking me away from family or ‘me’ time, I decided to look to my corporate skillset built up from 20+ years in project management and systems/process improvement to find a better way to tackle the age-old mess problem to get tidy in less time. I created the Serenely Sorted System initially to help myself create exactly what we all need now to learn how to live and work in a more harmonious home – and am now on a mission to help others do the same.
Here are five simple steps you can take to start owning your home/workspace and get more peace and harmony – for the long term!
1. Gift yourself five minutes peace in your day
If we can eliminate mess, we save the time we would have spent tidying it – and we can stop making mess with some very simple behaviour changes. Think about when you come in, what do you do with your bag and coat? Do you just plonk it down on a chair? If you use the hairbrush what do you do with it afterwards? Do you put it away or just leave it where you were brushing? These are natural behaviours we have built up through habit. But if we can change them by putting those things directly in an ‘End Home’, then you are cutting out the mess middleman and immediately saving precious minutes.
So, think about those things you plonk down before rushing to the next thing, and designate the top three an End Home, perhaps a basket on a shelf for your wallet/keys/handbag/umbrella.
2. Put it away every day
Put away your work stuff every day. Simple as that, but are you doing it? If we don’t put away our work stuff it directly affects our ability to switch off from it, not to mention the temptation to do more work after dinner or check that email.
To do this, find a box or bag and put your laptop and notebooks into it and onto a shelf in another room or cupboard. Get into the habit of doing this every single day.
3. Reclaim your Surfaces
A lot of people talk about decluttering these days, but if your surfaces are covered in the daily debris of life, why would you sort what’s under the bed first? A messy surface contributes to a lack of calm at home, and gifting yourself the pleasure of seeing it clear has a surprisingly large reward in terms of feeling better, happier in your home.
Start by looking at your daily use areas – the surfaces in your kitchen where the ‘Daily Debris’ builds up. Look at those surfaces – what’s on them? Is it your bag, your keys, a pile of paper, some toys, something else? And as described in tip 1, start to allocate End Homes to everything. Create an ‘End Home Zone’ in a cupboard, shelf or drawer and divide it up with a few baskets (Poundland, The Range, B&Q in the UK have excellent ranges).
Now – this is the important bit – mindfully put those things back in their End Homes at the end of the day. It will get quicker and quicker as your mind rewires itself to almost automatically put things away. This sounds almost ridiculous to say, but when I’m clearing my surfaces now at the end of the day I honestly don’t feel like I’m tidying anymore – because I don’t need to think about where the things go, I’m able to put them back into their End Homes superfast.
4. Don’t lose it when you lose it
Once you start creating End Homes, and mindfully put your stuff in them when you come in, or at the end of the day, you will be able to find things more easily and quickly. Because you know where everything goes you don’t lose things and spend your precious time looking for them. How many minutes have you wasted in the past few months looking for something at home?
5. Mindfully Make it a Habit
Once we mindfully do something repeatedly, we can form a habit that will create change for life. Just like a ‘diet’, if you don’t change your eating habits for the long term, once you stop you’ll be back to square one before you know it. So, force yourself to use those End Homes for a few weeks and it will start to feel less and less like tidying anymore! And – you will definitely feel more relaxed with a clear surface at the end of the day! To support this process and build your habits, you can join my Facebook support group where others are building habits to get serenely sorted for life!
Having experienced Mess Stress first hand, I know what it feels like to be mess stressed, and in these current unprecedented times, my mission is to help others who are feeling the same change their habits to help them find more peace in their home via simple mindset and behaviour changes. And as well as being living proof that it does work myself, a growing tribe people are following this approach and getting rid of their mess stress too!