Chances are, you spend many hours at your desk. How do you feel when you’re working? Are you happy? Are you able to focus? Do you enjoy yourself?
When I first started working for myself, my work station was a cramped metal desk in the corner of my music room. I wasn’t planning to change anything until I read about office feng shui in a library book. Then I decided what the heck—I was going to try this for myself.
While I didn’t follow all of the feng shui rules (my back is still somewhat facing the door), I could not believe how small changes were able to completely improve my work environment. Now, I feel focused, happy, and excited to work every day.
The practice of feng shui dates back to ancient China and originates with the concept of “chi.” Chi is life energy that we can harness to improve aspects of our lives—whether that’s our love lives, our health, our homes, and, yes, our offices. Feng shui teaches that we can improve the flow of chi in our workspaces, inviting positive vibes, boosting productivity, and grounding us in a joyful balance. Sounds pretty good, right?
Here are some easy ways to practice feng shui in your office.
Start with your desk
When it comes to the energy of feng shui, the material of your desk matters. According to Rodika Tchi, an experienced feng shui consultant, wood is the best choice for a desk because of its “nourishing and vibrant” energy. I can attest to this—as soon as I swapped my metal desk for wood, I immediately felt happier and calmer.
Metal is only a good choice if your line of work requires extra precision and mental sharpness, but otherwise, I found metal to be too cold.
A glass desk might make a room look nice and airy, but feng shui practitioners believe that glass desks aren’t grounded enough and allow energy to move too fast.
Furthermore, the placement of your desk matters. Basic human psychology suggests people are generally more comfortable sitting at the perimeters of a room instead of the center, and people feel more comfortable when they are seated where they can see the door. This is true for feng shui, too.
Position your desk so you can see the door while not being in direct line with it. It’s also essential to ensure that you’re sitting with a wall behind you. This is called the command position, and it’s all about being aware of your surroundings and able to handle every situation to the best of your abilities.
Less is more
A cardinal rule of feng shui: clear all clutter! At the end of each workday, take 10 minutes or so to clear off your work surface and to wipe off dust or other debris. This ensures a clean and clear working environment.
Feng shui embraces a minimalist approach: think about what you need on your desk versus what you don’t. Clear off everything that’s unnecessary. You’ll soon notice how much more clearheaded you feel!
Also, make space. Empty space invites good things to come into your life (and across your desk!).
Careful placement of desk objects
The flow of feng shui relies on five natural elements: fire, wood, water, metal, and earth. According to Sally Painter, a feng shui practitioner, bringing a bit of each of these elements into your workspace helps create a harmonious, balanced environment.
Given this, it helps to bring each of these natural energies to your workspace. Light, plants, crystals, and fire (candles) all have a special place in your feng shui work environment but so do little decorations made of metal, perhaps a small fish tank or fountain for the water element and a zen garden to bring about an earthy feel.
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese tradition, created long before double-blind studies and research teams. However, even to our modern sensibilities, some of the benefits of feng shui are clear.
Multiple studies have found that there are psychological benefits to plants in the office. According to the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, indoor plants in your office can help “prevent fatigue during attention-demanding work.” Another study suggests plants in the office may boost creativity and task performance and even aid in pain management.
Furthermore, studies show proper lighting has a huge impact on worker performance. According to the Human Technology Interaction Group, “dynamic lighting is designed to have positive effects on well-being and performance.” Another study, conducted by the Lighting Research Center, reports that in a series of experiments, office workers found quality lighting to boost comfort and “maintain motivation and vigilance throughout the [work] day.”
So, if you feel like your office environment needs a refresher, try out some feng shui! I assure you, after I switched to a rectangular wooden desk and added some lighting, houseplants, and candles, I felt so much better.
In the words of Rodika Tchi, feng shui is all about feeling empowered. By getting organized and filling your workspace with positive vibes, you’re more likely to experience success at work.