I’ve been working from home for about a year and have a dedicated (repurposed) work desk.

I would like to use the desk and my own laptop to work on personal projects.

However, I don’t feel able to. It’s kind of like I’m a work at the weekends.

How can I use my home work desk at the weekend?

I need something to make the area seem different somehow.

Edit: I have a work laptop which I put away. However, the question is more about separating home from personal life and not feeling like I'm at work on the weekend.

  • 1
    There's not enough detail for this question. What exactly is wrong with using your work desk for personal/side projects? Is there room for both your personal and work laptops on the desk?
    – Daveguy
    Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 22:54

6 Answers 6


Put a large colored work mat on the desk or one with a particular picture or design.

That may help you disassociate the desk from work at that time.

  • 1
    I was literally gonna type the same thing. A great choice is a LARGE TABLECLOTH, which really mentally keys you to meals, relaxation etc. I particularly recommend block-printed French linen tablecloths.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 12:16

Sit on the other side of the desk. If you're not made of space then leave the chair where it is and turn the desk around.

  • This is not always an option. I don't know many desks you can usually access both sides from unless your made of space.
    – GamerGypps
    Commented Jan 29, 2021 at 12:47

Everyone has different personal boundaries. You can choose to maintain "that is my work space" and use your laptop somewhere else. You can choose to use the desk for work and personal efforts, building some sort of different mental separation.

Once you try out a new approach, it isn't the final word. You might discover that the new approach isn't working out very well for you. At that time, you can always go back to the old approach.

All you are really struggling with is your own rules. If you became unemployed, the company isn't going to come into your home and take your desk.


There are many cognitive tricks you can employ to separate "work space" from "personal space" in a work from home environment.

I personally keep two different computer desks for this reason. I work on a laptop with external monitor on the dinner table in my front room, and then I use a desktop for recreation and gaming that's in my den. Or I'll take the laptop and go sit on my couch to do personal-work things (it's only a couple hours, so I'm not worried about it being all ergonomic like my work station).

Of course you can't always have two different spaces, but in general it can help to:

  1. Have an actual different space
  2. Have a different computer (even if not mandated by your company policy)
  3. Make the space different - even just moving within it, putting up a different backdrop or opening windows or whatnot, so it seems different (other posters mentioned a tablecloth, but even changing mouse pads or other accoutrements can help)
  4. Make the computer different - have a different profile to log into with different background, light/dark settings, etc. A different snazzy light-up keyboard you only use when it's personal time.
  5. Take a solid break between phases
  6. Have other signals of work vs play - I use candles/Scentsy when using my computer on the weekends not for work. You can have music play/different music for those phases (My workday starts with Alexa having Dolly Parton sing "9 to 5."

Basically you just need enough sensory signals (of any sense) to help your brain and body establish that you're in a different mode to break it up.

  • 2
    I would add "Be dressed for the occasion" to the list. Wear dress pants to work, wear jogging pants for private uses. Makes for a whole different feeling, even at the same desk.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 7:40

In my experience the separation of work and home/personal doesn't translate well into the "working from home" scenario. You need to be able to be interrupted by family members (and pets!) at a moments notice or be judged as unsociable at home. Your daily routine is much more fluid. Mealtimes are not fixed and perhaps not shared with anyone. I started by deliberately taking a break every hour and re-evaluating what your next hours priority should be - work or home.

Edit #1 To answer the question more directly, the use of a home/work desk is not a good way to look at the problem. At home, you are at home and therefore have the responsibilities of being at home namely cats, family members and meal times. These come first. When working from home you are doing just that and your workplace is intruding into your home. In order to use your home work desk you should stop seeing it as a work desk and its home and work functions merge into one and defy separation. You need to be flexible and fluid and able to switch at a moments notice. How can you use your home work desk at weekends? Answer - flexibly, 24/7.

  • Sorry, but this does not seem to answer the question, which is "How can I use my home work desk at the weekend?"
    – sleske
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 8:43

It's just a mental shift, you will get used to it pretty quickly.

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