Zen Your Workspace

Posted on October 22, 2014 at 6:00 am

By Gwendolyn Haley

A year ago, I moved from a small office I shared with 2 other people, to a cubicle in the middle of a relatively high traffic area in our administrative offices. My former office had windows, plenty of natural light, and few distractions. My new workspace has no windows or natural light, and conversations carry from one end of the space to another. Colleagues walk through the area with high frequency. To be honest, it was impacting the quality of my work and my overall satisfaction with my job in a very negative way. Something had to change.

Noodling around on Pinterest one day, I started looking at how other people were decorating their workspaces and realized that I needed to take control of my environment. I decided to use the principles of Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of arranging your physical surroundings to attract positive energy, as a guide. I was feeling pretty unhappy in my space on a daily basis, so I figured that a dose of positive energy would not go amiss.

Zen Your Workspace by Gwendolyn Haley | Spokane County Library District

The first step was to clear every surface off, thoroughly. I had files everywhere, piles of paper, and tchotchkes galore. Perhaps the visual noise and distraction originated with me? I also took some time to tackle my file drawers. When I moved offices, I literally threw everything in boxes and toted them to the new location. In order to clear off my desk, I needed to clean out the file cabinet. I recycled or shredded everything that I no longer needed to save. The second step was to sort through everything on my desktop into active projects, items to file, and items to shred. Now my desktop just has a few folders with active projects sorted neatly in a rack, a to-do box and a to-file box. I made a few ergonomic adjustments as well, making sure that my chair, desk, and computer screen were all at the right height.

Zen Your Workspace by Gwendolyn Haley | Spokane County Library DistrictNow for the fun stuff. Most of us cannot adjust the position of our desk inside a cubicle. In my case, my back is to the door, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I found a shoji screen that eliminates the visual distractions of all of the comings and goings, and also forces people to approach from the side, within my line of sight. I was feeling more peaceful already. Next, I used the Bagua map to determine where to arrange accessories. The space is not huge, and I needed to prioritize the elements that were most important to me. I chose to focus on Family, Relationships, Creativity, and Abundance.  Pictures of my children are located to the left, center part of the desk. I placed a live bamboo plant in the back, left Abundance corner. A picture of my husband and I running the Warrior Dash received a place of honor in the back, right Relationship corner, while a collection of pens and pencils sits in the left center space for Creativity. Keeping the desk clear helps improve my stress level and thought processes. I brought in a little water fountain to add tranquility and a low level of white noise. It’s soothing. Since I can’t face out, I added some framed watercolors to provide something to look at other than a blank wall.

Zen Your Workspace by Gwendolyn Haley | Spokane County Library District

I now have a very cozy, tidy little desk area. Did the feng shui really make that much of a difference, or was it just getting a clean desk that really helped? What I know for sure is that since making the effort to take control of and improve my environment at work, I feel happier and less stressed. I spend 40 hours a week here on average, so that seems like a very wise investment in my own mental health. Using the principles of Feng Shui gave me a framework to use while deciding how I wanted my space to affect me.

What about you? Have you found ways to make your space work for you?

Gwendolyn Haley

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