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Put An End To Workplace Chaos: Feng Shui Inspired Tips For Your Office Space

We haven’t written a “Work Life” post in a while and I’m a firm believer that it’s a critical part of a productive work environment. So taking a break from all our “Work Smarter” posts, I hereby offer something on the lighter side. And hey, as April gains momentum in, it’s also a GREAT time to make some positive changes to start FY17 fresh!

While we certainly don’t want to get too mystical on the WorkflowMax blog, we do believe in generating good vibes. And borrowing some tips from Feng Shui is a great place to start. Good Feng Shui is all about organising your space in a way that affects you positively. After all, "your surroundings have a deep and profound impact on your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.” The concept considers how chi (life force or essential energy) flows within the space. It involves considering the purpose of every object and its systematic placement in your environment.

Tip 1: Let everything you don’t love, go

“You don’t need to aim for perfection. Just deal with the main items of clutter that are clogging up your space and then get on with your life.” – Karen Kingston, space-clearing guru

Decluttering may not be the most appealing activity in the world – but it’s critical to “creating a joy-inducing space”. Wouldn’t it be awesome if JOY was the first thought that popped into your head when you thought of work? Plus, once you’ve gone through and gotten rid of old files and long forgotten paperwork, you’ll feel lighter and freer. Before you toss anything out though, “don’t forget to thank it before saying goodbye” as best-selling author and mess-mastering phenomenon Marie Kondo reminds us. Apart from being a beautiful sentiment, this method of release helps us “make peace” with the parting.

Tip 2: Know your flow.

Is there a particular flow or order to the way you prefer to work? And does the current state of your desk / office enable you to capitalise on this? In my case for example, I always work from left to right. To cater for this, I keep my ideas and doodling pad on the left hand side, with my computer to the right of it (where the doodles get realised) and beverages and snacks placed on the extreme right, so I can sip or munch as I work. It becomes super easy to work efficiently this way when everything flows from one area to the next. Some things to consider:

  • Arrange objects in a way that attracts good energy. What feels most natural to you?
  • If you want to dig deeper, you could use the Feng Shui Bagua Map as a guide. This is a nine-part grid that illustrated how objects should be laid out on your desk and how they correspond with different areas of your life.
  • Try moving your desk so that your back is towards a wall into what’s known as the "commanding position”. You’ll have a better view of your office space, visibility over people and awareness of what’s going on in your surroundings.

Tip 3: Focus on natural light

Okay, so you may not be able to control the lighting situation at your workplace – our own workplace has glaring white tube lights I’m not the hugest fan of – but I’ll give you a pseudo Feng Shui hack: try and get heaps of natural light during your work day! Make taking those lunch breaks AWAY from your desk an imperative.

Book out a half hour in your calendar if that’s what it takes. A senior account manager friend of mine makes sure her lunchtime Personal Training sessions are always marked out in her calendar. She keeps the same schedule every week so 1) people have come to know to not book meetings during that time 2) she’s made it a public habit so she’s kind of obliged to keep the sessions…!

Whether you wander over to the cafe across the road, the park nearby or just walk around the block – the clear air and natural light will clear your head and help you get ready to face the rest of the day. Incidentally if you can squeeze in a workout during your lunch break I’d recommend doing that as well!

Tip 4: Add some greenery

More and more workplaces are incorporating living walls into their workplace environment. Studies have shown that having some greenery around positively affects happiness and productivity. At the creative agency where I worked previously, plenty of staff took it one step further and brought in their own potted plants to brighten up their desks.

Tip 5: Put on some chill sounds

While music isn’t strictly mentioned in Feng Shui, music affects your productivity, and as you’re probably aware by now, our Marketing team is a bunch of music fiends. I find a snazzy playlist really gets my creative juices flowing and gets me more in the zone. If you’re wondering where to go for your music needs, we’ve got a handy list right here:

  • Spotify – my go-to source of all things music! Spotify has heaps of ready-made and up-to-date playlists for your listening pleasure.
  • Soundcloud – popular for more alternative genres, musicians and creators, this audio platform that lets you listen to what you love and share the sounds you create.
  • Pandora – a music streaming and automated music recommendation service available in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
  • iHeartRadio – an Internet radio platform offering users access to the world of music and radio in one simple app.
  • Noisli is a super cool little sound generator we recently discovered. It provides ambient music as a backdrop to your work. If waves and the wind are more your cup of tea – you’re welcome!

Don’t want to subject your colleagues to your questionable taste in music, or let them know Rhianna is what gets your work-groove on? Simply chuck on a decent pair of headphones and bring your focus on.

Tip 6: Nourish and replenish energy

Energy flow is ever changing – and every so often we should practice a cycle of renewal and make an active effort to nourish and replenish depleted energy. 

One way to do this is to be aware of the factors that lower your energy and try to combat or negate them.

  • Meet negativity in the workplace with positivity.
  • Put an end to unproductive meetings. If you don’t need to have a meeting, don’t! If you can have a quick catch up via Skype as opposed to booking out a room for an hour - do that!
  • Motivate your team members, celebrating wins and providing positive reinforcement
  • Build a great team-based culture.
  • Look for ways to create energy boosts short breaks, laughter, creating a very open environment where fresh ideas and creativity is rewarded.

At the end of the day, Feng shui is about creating balance in our lives.

As a business owner, leader or project manager, it’s worth allowing your team some time to re-energise their spaces and take ownership of them, so they can build a better mind connection to the work they’re doing.

The important thing is to start somewhere, because little changes in the right direction can make all the difference. And the beauty of it is that you can scale these tips to whatever works in your space and YOUR office environment.

Further reading and resources:

  • Zen habits: Run by Leo Babauta, the Zen Habits blog is a great resource for posts on decluttering and living more mindfully. Just visiting the blog makes me feel better.

Do you have any tips on ending workplace chaos? We’d love to know in the comments below!