In our always-on culture, it's often easy to feel overworked, sluggish, and a little deflated. Toward the end of the year, you might secretly hope that the holiday break would arrive swiftly, but despite your wishful thinking, the last quarter of the year is also often the busiest. Between holiday shopping and social gatherings, you're also expected to tie all your loose ends at work before the year's end. Cue late nights at the office, or working from your sofa or bed after dinner as you race toward the finish line.
That said, spending hours working from your couch on weeknights, the kitchen island on Sunday mornings, or other areas that aren't optimized for your comfort might not be the most productive thing to do. For example, a literature review found that the quality of our indoor environment is closely related to productivity and satisfaction at work. Similarly, just like new workout clothes can motivate us to hit the gym more often, an office space with good feng shui can help us work more efficiently.
To shed light on the matter, we reached out to feng shui expert Laura Cerrano. Below, she shares her tips on how to optimize our home office for greater motivation, productivity, and creativity. Ready to kick-start your workspace? Implement these feng shui design principles in your home office, and get the productivity boost you need.
Meet the Expert
Laura Cerrano is a NY- and LA-based feng shui consultant, researcher, and public speaker. She received her Feng Shui Certification under the guidance of her mother and mentor, Certified Feng Shui Master, Carole Provenzale in 2000.
First, Set Your Intention
First thing's first: What exactly are you trying to achieve when in your home office? "Prior to arranging any furniture, ask yourself, what is the function of my home office?" says Cerrano. For example, do you intend to spend most of your time writing, marketing, doing web-design, or accounting? Or perhaps you're more geared toward the arts or music production? Asking yourself what you will do in your home office begins to piece together a strong foundation within your office's energy field, explains Cerrano.
Next, weed out unnecessary clutter and select furniture that contributes to your productivity and focus while you're in that space. Sometimes, less is more. "Once you have that initial question answered, ask yourself, how many pieces of functional furniture do I really need within my office?" says Cerrano. Investing time in establishing an office environment that speaks to the level of respect, motivation, and growth you envision for yourself is one of the best and easiest ways to bring good feng shui energy to your space, Cerrano adds.
Position Your Desk in a Commanding Position
Next, Cerrano recommends considering where to best position your desk and building outward from there. She advises placing your desk in the best commanding position in your home office. According to feng shui principles, that might mean having a solid wall behind you, as well as some plants (also known as the wood element) for support. Establishing a commanding position allows you to literally, energetically, and metaphorically see and feel who and what opportunities are approaching, explains Cerrano.
In this way, "Positioning your desk could symbolize avoiding collaborations with [non-beneficial] business partners and signing contracts or agreements that are one-sided."
Also, try not to position your desk under ceiling beams, fans, or near protruding wall edges. Why? These are indications of "sha" energy or life-draining chi. "Symptoms from a feng shui perspective could be recognized as feeling tired, unfocused, or easily emotionally triggered."
However, no need to be completely regimented with arranging your desk, "because you need to become acquainted with your office to see what areas allow for the best commanding position, and proceed from there," says Cerrano. "Once you have a clearer vision for the function of your office and understand what pieces of furniture you need, you can establish the arrangement of furniture," she adds.
Focus on Function
When planning your home office space, Cerrano also reminds us to think practically. "Remember to take into consideration the function of the office, and be decisive with the type and amount of furniture that is needed. This will save you time, money, and reduce stress," she says. "Invest in a supportive office chair, especially if you plan on sitting for several hours in a day."
The expert also warns against a workspace that serves too many functions, which can clutter your desk, and head space: "Another hiccup to the feng shui-ing process is sharing your home office with too many people. Learn to set healthy boundaries. I've had clients who shared their office file cabinet, desk, and other means of storage with their children. The result? Toys, drawings, and homework took over their office, creating a clutter of distraction with limited storage space."
Bring the Energy and Light in
There are a few feng shui principles you can follow to bring more energy into your space. "Make sure you have good air circulation," says Cerrano. "When the weather is good, feel free to open up the windows, and if you can't, consider looking into purchasing an air purifier (especially if your home office has no windows)."
Allowing natural light to penetrate into the office has been shown to increase productivity, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. "If you are able to establish a commanding position that allows you to be supported by a solid wall, see the office doorway with no obstructions, and have a view of the outside, it's a triple win."
Do your best to avoid locating your home office in the basement.
The feng shui expert adds that adding real plants enhances any office energy by naturally cleaning the air, reducing stress, and improving communication: "Bamboo, Boston ferns, English ivy, and rubber trees are great go-to options. Including a couple images of supportive family members or other individuals who inspire you is another great energy booster."
Address Clutter and Storage
Additionally, tackling your storage needs and limiting visual clutter may bolster your productivity. "Understand the use of your office, and you'll know the type of storage that is needed," says Cerrano. "Do you need to have hard copies? If so, file cabinets and closets tend to offer great storage space. Perhaps a low-sitting bookcase is best or simple shelving along the wall. If you wish to connect more with the digital age, you could store files on your computer and on an external drive.
When in doubt, keep what you need, and release what you don't need. "This may sound elementary, and yet it's an extremely powerful habit to adopt that transcends your physical, mental, emotional, and energetic bodies," Cerrano says.
Choose Mindful Colors and Materials
Beyond the layout, Cerrano also recommends paying attention to colors and materials in your space.
"A rectangular wooden desk is commonly the best recommendation in feng shui. The material brings natural energy into your space, while also cultivating a nourishing and vibrant quality of energy. If you prefer a standing desk, consider researching a wooden design. In general, the size, style, and color depends on the overall room structure and intended office environment," says Cerrano. "As a side note, you may also want to consider purchasing a desk that has soft or rounded edges—even if in a rectangular or L-shape design."
As for color choices, the feng shui expert explains that it depends on your line of work. "In general, office spaces that require writing, mathematics, and science benefit from wall colors in shades of blue, green, or even beige. These are considered a strong backdrop of color. From there, you could accent the office with artwork, lighting, plants, area rugs, and anything else you need to help achieve the best focus and productivity," says Cerrano. And yet, aim for what Cerrano calls a "harmonious collaboration of colors." To kick the energy in the room up a notch, implement touches of warm colors like red, yellow, and orange—they're great colors to draw on for creativity, says Cerrano.
Nurture Your Goals Visually
"Overall, create an environment that highlights you professionally and personally," recommends Cerrano. "Your selection of décor on a subconscious level is an energetic extension of what you are attracting. For example, when I first started my business, I knew my main clients would be from the New York region, yet I was curious in extending my feng shui consulting firm to reach national and international clientele. To align that intention with the surroundings of my home office, I chose to display an antique world map. Within a short period of time, I began attracting clients beyond the New York border."
The feng shui expert notes that defining what you want to attract and visually displaying those goals in your space can impact your overall motivation and subsequent success. "Feng shui encourages you to learn more about yourself and discover the necessary knowledge, skills, and connections that need development for nurturing your goals. As you do this, you become more curious, motivated, inspired, and productive. Those sparks of interest could then be visually translated inside your office to offer an abundance of beneficial psychological cues."