4 Tips to Feng Shui Your Workspace
Have you ever heard someone say the arrangement of furniture is “good feng shui” and wondered what on earth that means? Or what feng shui is in the first place? Feng shui (often pronounced “FUNG SHWAY” in America) is an ancient Chinese practice that focuses on Chi, which is life force or positive energy. The goal of feng shui is to optimize the flow of Chi to maximize your success, career, relationships, etc., and allow you to live your best life.
Now, I’m not a feng shui expert, but I’m grateful to those who are and share their wisdom in books, shows and articles. In the past year I’ve become a feng shui enthusiast and I’ve incorporated principles throughout my home and workspace.
Are you skeptical about the very idea of Chi or positive energy? Stick with me. I’ll share additional reasons and benefits that support feng shui principles and may convince you to give it a try in your business or home office.
Step 1 – Clear the clutter
Feng shui: Before you start moving furniture around, you need to clear the clutter. According to the art of feng shui, clutter – the collection of items lying around in an untidy fashion – can block the flow of Chi and create areas of stagnant energy. It could be clutter on your desk at work or in your home office, piles of paperwork that need to be sorted, stacks of books that don’t have a home, file folders strewn about, junk on the floor that doesn’t belong there, and so on.
Beyond feng shui: In his book “Goodbye, Things” Fumio Sasaki talks about “the silent to-do list”. When you are surrounded by undone, menial tasks, it’s difficult to focus on your actual to-do list. Think of a desk that’s messy – papers that need to be filed, things you need to throw away, business cards that need to be organized (or let’s be honest, also thrown away). You may not realize why you’re having trouble concentrating. You might blame other things going on in your life, or even think there’s something wrong with your brain. But your silent to-do list can be detrimental to your work.
Try getting rid of everything on your desk that you don’t need. And I don’t mean just moving everything to a pile in the other room. To eliminate the silent to-do list, you need to actually deal with the clutter. Piles of paper are just delayed decisions. Make those decisions now and you’ll be more prepared to focus on your actual to-do list.
Step 2 – Be in command
Feng shui: Once you have eliminated the clutter in your workspace (congratulations!), evaluate the position of your desk. Feng shui places a great emphasis on furniture placement. Your desk/workspace should be situated in a “command position” or “power position,” meaning you are as far away from the entrance of that room as possible, facing the door, but ideally not directly in front of the doorway. Your back should be a short distance from the wall when you’re working, rather than having your workspace “floating” in the middle of the room.
Beyond feng shui: I associate this tip with a psychological need to feel safe (you easily see the entrance) and secure (your back’s near the wall and nobody’s sneaking up on you). While it’s something you may not consciously think about, we have a basic instinct to watch out for danger. If you hear an unexpected noise sitting in a command position, you can easily look at the doorway and quickly assess if you need to take action. You don’t have to turn around, less effort is needed to ensure you’re safe, less brain power is needed to assess the situation, and you’re less distracted from your work.
A captain not in command: Once, in a friend’s home office, I noticed his standing desk faced away from the doorway. Naturally, as a feng shui enthusiast, I shared this principle. He chuckled and told me his desk was exactly how he wanted it, because standing at it and looking out the window to the corner of his property made him feel like the captain of a ship. He didn’t want to put his desk in the “command position” because he pretends he’s already in one. Hey, whatever floats your boat.
Step 3 – Energize your business with plants
Feng shui: Plants play an important role in feng shui and live plants are considered to bring positive energy if they are healthy, vibrant, and well-maintained. They can be used as “cures” to soften or correct feng shui problems in your workspace, or simply add uplifting energy in your business or home office. Some popular feng shui plants include philodendron, pothos, areca, lady palm, and rubber plants.
Beyond feng shui: Live plants also clean and purify the air. This is especially important in modern times, as people spend more time than ever before indoors, and indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air, from things like formaldehyde in particle board furniture, flame retardant chemicals used on furniture, and the list goes on. Thankfully, many indoor plants detoxify the air while adding beauty and character to your workspace.
Note: Some indoor houseplants should be kept out of reach of curious pets and young children still in that taste-everything phase. I don’t like the word “toxic” because indoor plants are generally very good for your health. But, make sure they are not eaten.
Step 4 – Go with the flow
Feng shui: The last tip for incorporating feng shui principles into your office is to “go with the flow.” Okay, this is technically two tips for focusing on water to improve your prosperity.
1. Stop unintentional water flow i.e. plumbing leaks. When it comes to feng shui, a leaky faucet symbolizes wealth and prosperity being drained or escaping. Whether it’s a slow drip from your sink faucet or a toilet that you randomly hear running due to an old rubber flapper in the tank, it’s time to fix any plumbing issues
2. Add a flowing water element. Water is considered a symbol of abundance, freshness, and renewal in feng shui. To encourage these in your business, consider adding a small tabletop waterfall or wall decor that reminds you of water with blues and flowing curves. The ideal areas for a fountain or water-inspired art are the North, East, or Southeast sections of your office or workspace. If you’re not sure which way North is, check your smartphone for a built-in compass app.
Beyond feng shui:
1. An occasional drip from a faucet may not seem like a big deal, but the amount of water – and money – being wasted may surprise you! A leaky faucet can waste up to 3 gallons of water each day, and about 90 gallons of water in one month! Whether you have 1 faucet in your office, or dozens throughout your business, make sure you find and fix any water leaks right away.
2. There are multiple benefits to adding a flowing water element like a small tabletop fountain in your work environment
- Running water can add natural humidity to dry indoor air
- Add a tranquil visual component in your decor
- Reduce distracting noise from traffic (or family members) while you work with the sound of moving water that’s calming and can serve as white noise
- Clean and freshen the air you breathe with the help of negative ions released from flowing water
The goal of feng shui is to optimize the flow of positive energy, but of course I’ve shared additional reasons for each step beyond the feng shui principle. Go ahead, I dare you to make these changes. You might be surprised how much lighter, more comfortable, and energizing your workspace feels.
More from Numberwise:
From average Joe to work from home pro
Virtual bookkeeping tools to start using today
Awkward money topics for business owners (and how to tackle them)
Don’t miss out on free money for your business (ERC)