Productivity in the office can be difficult in even the best of circumstances. Couple human distractibility with a work-from-home environment and the result is a to-do list with many more “dos” than “don’ts.” In the age of COVID-19, the stuck-at-home business owner can use the ancient Chinese philosophy of feng shui to better optimize their workspace and increase workflow.
What is Feng Shui?
Feng shui, or “wind and water,” is the study of enhancing the natural energy of a given space. This energy, known as “qi,” is said to flow through natural and manmade spaces in paths similar to wind entering a space or water flowing through a surface.
In modern terms, feng shui is used to optimize the purpose of a given space. Using an intentional mix of shapes, colors, materials, and physical spacing, one can make any space feel a specific way based on personal goals. For example, if an expecting mother wants to increase the sense of maternity within her home nursery, she could use the feminine attributes of the Yin—represented by dark colors and quiet spaces—to increase this feeling.
To make your home office more conducive to focus and productivity, consider implementing these five feng shui tips:
1. Use the Commanding Position
A tenet of feng shui practice, the Commanding Position, is the optimal spot for an office desk and chair. The Commanding Position is located in a diagonal from the entrance of the room: as qi enters a room through an open door, the energy will flow through the room in a V-shape.
Position your desk in this diagonal space, and ensure that you face the door to solidify your ownership of the room.
Lastly, set your chair against a firm, windowless wall. The unbroken nature of the wall will better support you and your work within the office.
2. Incorporate the Five Elements
Feng shui utilizes the concept of the Five Elements. Each element is composed of a series of shapes, colors, and materials that evoke certain emotions and feelings within a space. Elements of Metal, Water, and Wood tend to work best for at-home offices.
Water creates feelings of emotion and inspiration. Stay creative and innovative by installing water features, water sounds, and wavy or spherical objects and furniture. Consider blues.
Wood creates feelings of passion, growth, and energy. Fill your space with house plants, wooden furniture, and other forms of life. Consider greens.
Metal creates feelings of unity, focus, and order. Use metal features to tie together all of the other elements within your space. Fill your space with metallic or crystalline objects, as well as smooth furniture. Consider silvers, grays, and greens.
3. Seclude Your Office (as Best You Can)
In feng shui practice, each space operates differently based on its intention. Users should do their best not to mix spaces, for fear of cluttering intentions.
Not everyone has the luxury of a private at-home office space. Some business owners have to share their workspace with partners, children, and roommates. If you don’t have your own home office, follow these guidelines, organized in descending order from “best-case scenario” to “worst-case scenario”:
- Work in your own, dedicated office space. If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated office space, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
- Consider spaces that you use for work-adjacent activities. Set up your workspace in a kitchen or laundry room—it’ll be more productive than a bedroom.
- Use any private space. If you don’t have any private spaces of your own, seclude yourself from those you live with.
- Create seclusion within a public space. Consider breaking line of sight from others using house plants, sitting in the corner of a room, or following these other tips.
4. Surround Yourself with Sensory Beauty
A space that looks good will feel good. Make your home office space more aesthetically pleasing by doing the following:
- Position your desk in view of a window. If you can, make sure your Command Position has a view of a garden. That, plus the bonus of natural light, will improve your mood.
- Hang paintings or inspirational mottos. Hang art in areas you can see from your desk. Display inspirational mottos behind your Command Position: this will act as an anchor point for the space.
- Reduce distracting noises and increase calming sounds. Lessen the volume of outside noises or construction with soundproofing, and increase the volume of calming, nature, or rhythmic sounds with a white noise machine.
- Burn calming essential oils. If essential oils aren’t your thing, implement any method of aromatherapy you prefer.
5. Reduce Clutter and Increase Intentionality
A clutter-free mind needs a clutter-free office. In addition to keeping your space clean, consider “tidying” other frustrations within your home office that cause you distress. Update the room’s air conditioning system, ensure internet reliability, and use full-spectrum lighting.
Ensure that everything within your reach serves a work-related purpose. Fill your desk with pens, notepads, and a trusty water bottle—if you can lean over and grab the TV remote, it’s in the wrong place.
Adriane Aguilera is a freelance writer whose work focuses on business and tech. She’s a tech enthusiast that loves breaking down highly technical concepts into interpretable content. Twitter: @AdriAdrift