The Home Office Syndrome

Updated: Mar 24


Everything in this life is a relationship.


We have a relationship with our spouse, with our kids, pets, with the flowers and plants at the house, with the dishes, clothes, the unread books on the shelves. Even breathing is a relationship to the external world.


This article is written by Triin Sarri, the member of .Contriber team.


How I see life is that everyone has their purpose and needs. To be happy, everyone wants to do something purposeful and have their needs met. In my view of the world, this is also the case with things.


E.g. my teacup’s purpose is to hold and contain my tea, it was created with this particular purpose in mind. The teacup also has its needs - it needs a space, it needs to get cleaned up after it is used, it also needs to be used to be able to fulfill its purpose. It’s as if the cup is always whispering: “Hey, I’m ready for you to have some tea,” “Please give me a hand and help me get clean again,” “Please assist me to get back to my space.” And this is just one teacup speaking and secretly giving me one task after another¹.


As time has gone by we all have collected many things (i.e. relationships), the lock-down has brought us face to face with our collections. Again. We can no longer run off to work, to the gym, to the theater, or a restaurant from those we tend to call our own and our close ones.


“Mom, I need 10 € to buy a new eyeliner,” (task); “Hoooooman, I needs to pee,” (task); “Please wash me,” (task (times every dish and piece of clothing that needs maintenance)); “I should have a shower” (task); “Honey, the real-estate guy called, we need to reschedule the deal,” (task); “Hey, the client needs a response,” (task).

I am not able to keep track of all the tasks that I get done every day, but I sure feel the overwhelm of this silent task-list that magically gets filled by every person, animal, plant, and item I’m currently in a relationship with. In more scientific terms this is called multiple stress² and the situation the lockdown is creating is called the Home Office Syndrome³.

Now that we know how to call it let’s take a look at how to handle it.


1. Do a problem audit

Take those good old pen and paper and write down everything that you have in your backlog, things that are not working for you and/or that are causing you stress.

Once you haven’t been able to add anything to the list for a day or two it is time to take the next step.


2. Control the controllables

You may have in your list things that bother you, but there’s nothing you can do about them.

You don’t like that the shops are closed; it is annoying that the delivery time for your orders are way too long; it is uncomfortable that only three fingers fit into the handle of your teacup; you haven’t visited your grandmother due to the restrictions for a month already.

Now take the red pen and cross off everything in your list that you can’t do much or anything about. And also cross off everything that falls into the category of expectations - your own and those you think others have for you.


3. Prioritize!

Score everything in your list using two measurements - urgency and importance. Rate each item in your list on a scale of 0 to 10 in both categories, add the scores and now you can sort the items and see what needs to be dealt with.


4. Choose!

Pick 3 - 4 items with the highest scores that you will handle now and leave the rest on hold. The key here is to accept that you can’t tackle everything at once, but you can make a promise to yourself that you will take care of these things one by one.


5. Tackle!

The most important step to solving any challenge or status quo is to take action.

It is so obvious, yet not an easy advice to follow. Fortunately there are many strategies we can use to keep ourselves sane and going. The most important one probably is asking for support.

Find someone with whom you can fight shoulder by shoulder, an accountability buddy who will listen to you, who will share with you his/her view on your situation from aside, and who will nudge you when you start falling off the boat. I recommend joining the Accountability Group for 8 weeks. Starting something new is easy, but keeping it up takes will power and this is what you can learn there!


6. Give yourself time!

This is very important, so I’ll say it again, you can’t have everything at once.

Cinnamon rolls take 20 minutes to bake (2 hours 20 minutes if you make your own dough), it can take 6 months to thoroughly tidy up your home (btw, this is considered quick!) and it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. So be patient with yourself.



There are days when everything fails and that’s ok too, you are not a Superman or Wonder Woman. If everything seems to fail it doesn’t mean that you have failed, but it could mean that you need a break.


If you’re having one of those days just now, try turning it off and on again. Here’s a short meditation that might help you do that ;-)


To focus on getting things done in the next 8 weeks, join the Accountability Group starting this Sunday, 28th of March.




Additional articles to go deeper into the topic:

  1. The Silent To-Do List (video)

  2. Multiple Stress

  3. Home Office Syndrome

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