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Increasing harmony and productivity with feng shui

By Chuck Niedringhaus

SUMMARY: Do you look at your office as a personal sanctuary or just another extension of a stress-filled life? If your office adds to your stress, maybe you have lost “control” and need to consider some changes to make your surroundings more supportive of what you do. Employing a few basic techniques can make your surroundings more productive and contribute to a sense of harmony in your work life.

With today’s growing clutter of paper and technological messages, your office needs to provide a balance to allow you to focus on key activities while staying in control. Here are tips to increase productivity and personal satisfaction.

Clear the clutter
This means you need to become more organized by tossing out the stuff you don’t really need or to organize or file it. If it’s not worth filing, get rid of it. Removing clutter also involves having well-organized files in proper storage cabinets. This will allow you to have unimpeded work areas and to find project files more easily.

Check the lighting
Not all of us are blessed with a window and natural light. While that would be the best situation, most of us sit under old-style fluorescent lighting. Poor lighting adds to eye strain and stress. Talk to maintenance about employing full spectrum lighting or adding an incandescent table or floor lamp. Sometimes, removing a fluorescent bulb or turning off an overhead light fixture can “add by subtraction.”

Hide cords and cables
Today’s tech-heavy demands can make office wiring look like the home in “A Christmas Story” – too many cords and too few outlets. Re-engineer your use of electrical outlets to see if you can reduce the number of wires stretched across the floor or along a wall. Also, hide the wire cables connected to your computer and printer. Making them less visible can reduce the perception of clutter.

Have comfortable, ergonomically designed work furniture
In today’s work environments, many organizations routinely dispose of excess furniture, leading many of us to want to squirrel away furniture in our offices rather than risk losing something we might need some time in the unforeseen future. Yet, that attitude can be counter-productive. Assess your office furniture. Is it comfortable? Is there too much of it? Keep the good quality furniture that adds to your productivity. Re-purpose the rest somewhere else or store it anywhere but your office, especially if it needs repair. If your organization’s policy says it has to go, so be it.

Place your desk diagonally across from the office’s entrance and have the desk facing it
When conducting business in the office, arrange to be where you can see the door instead of having your back to it. If you’re in a cube and have little flexibility on office layout, you may want to hang up a mirror in a location that allows you to view the door while you work. This is just common sense. You don’t want someone to overhear a conversation or enter your office unseen and uninvited while you work.

Restore “positive energy” to your work area
The Chinese have made home and office décor an art form called “feng shui.” Regardless of how you perceive the philosophy behind it, feng shui does provide some practical advice for restoring harmony and positive feelings about your office. Here are some additional thoughts:

  • Decorate your office with plants, a fountain, or even an aquarium to give it a positive ambiance. If you have an oddly-shaped work space, tall plants can help give the area a more conventional and aesthetically pleasing appearance. Use art to enhance purpose.

  • Balance the use of light and dark colors, soft and hard surfaces, and smooth and rough textures. Soft earth tones can create an atmosphere conducive to productive relationships. Stark white walls can add to stress and tension. Textures, used judicially, can add interest while not building negative reactions.

  • Arrange your workspace, if possible, so it does not face stairs, restrooms, closets or a corridor. Choose a location that keeps you involved in the flow of office “energy” and not cut off from the flow of communication.

Employing these ideas with your office design or the organization of your work can help improve focus and productivity by reducing stress. You can attain these goals through balance and harmony. It may take time to organize your work, de-clutter your life, and insert positive energy, but it puts you in control of your life rather than your work. That alone will make it worth the effort.