Last year, I was so overwhelmed at work that I felt paralyzed. My workload was ridiculous, my desk was a mess, my to-do list was incomplete, and I was fearful of coming to work every single day. It was oppressive and terrifying, and not at all me; wonderfully organized, kill-it-at-work ME.
I didn’t know where to start making things better, so I went with an idea that felt a little off-the-beaten-path. I decided to come in on a Saturday, and try to apply feng shui principles to my cubicle/workspace/desk (I do not have an office). I’d read a few articles by Ann Bingley Gallops on her website, The Open Spaces Feng Shui Blog, about the myriad benefits of having good feng shui at the office, and figured that even if I didn’t get much good chi from it, I could at least have a better looking space.
When I say this was a little “off-the-beaten-path”, what I really mean is that this is akin to wishing on a star, believing in leprechauns, and riding a unicorn home.
Clutter is very bad feng shui, I’d learned. So, I first needed to declutter the space. I went through all the papers and filed or pitched them, making notes about anything that I’d kept out on my desk as a reminder to do something, so that I wouldn’t forget to actually “do it”, but didn’t have to keep the paper out any longer. I gathered up all of the business cards I’d collected and put them in a container or entered the data from them into Outlook and then recycled the card, as appropriate. I opened up all the boxes I had stored under my desk, and I threw out tons of old files I’d been keeping “just in case”.
The decluttering took a long time. There was a lot of clutter. I mentioned that I’d become overwhelmed, right?
After I finished the decluttering process, I had to clean my desk. With Lysol. It was gross. I removed all of the bits and bobs that I keep on my desktop, dusted, and then wiped the surface completely clean. Twice. It needed it that badly.
Once I’d cleared off the desktop completely, and dusted and cleaned it, I began applying the principles of feng shui, as described in this article by Ann (I read a bunch of articles and watched a few YouTube vids on the topic before moving forward). I also learned about the bagua map, and laid out the various areas of my desktop according to the outcomes I wanted my workspace to support.
I’m telling you – this was wayyyyyy out in left field for me. I’m a science girl. Proof or it didn’t happen. My desperation was clear, just by the fact that I was willing to consider this stuff, let alone actually apply it.
Mostly, this was a reorganization and clearing of clutter. The feng shui principles guided placement of things like my computer (I changed its location so I didn’t have my back to the entrance of my cubicle), my inbox, photos of my family and pets, some artwork from my daughter, an industry achievement certificate (“me wall” kind of thing), new plants (real and fake), stuffed animals, a colorful glass paperweight and glass “fishbowl”, and a picture of a small pond with koi. The plants, paperweight, “fishbowl”, and the picture of water and koi were new additions, to help balance the elements within the bagua map, and promote the flow of chi.
The outcomes that I wanted to support were financial abundance, balance, peace, harmony, and professional success. I felt that the combination of those outcomes would allow me to feel better about my job, achieve better balance between home and work, make more money (which would help me justify spending so much time at work), and be better recognized for my significant efforts.
I was amazed at the results. Proof or it didn’t happen, right? Well, the proof manifested itself in a few ways. I received a raise and a bonus (neither was truly significant, but they were both higher than average in my workplace). I received more support from co-workers willing to share the workload. I was better able to focus, and the overwhelm was reduced. I felt more free to express myself and my concerns to my boss. I received more support at home from my husband. We ran the smoothest, most successful, best attended convention in years.
I’m not kidding around here. I’m not exaggerating for effect. These were tangible changes that I really don’t think I affected in any way other than by changing things up at my desk. Maybe they were all related to the fact that I felt better at my desk. More relaxed. Better situated. Maybe I achieved better chi after all. I honestly don’t care which it was. Many things got markedly better after I went through this exercise.
Speaking of exercise, it wasn’t long after I did this that something in my brain clicked, and I finally did something about the weight I’d gained. I began a wholehearted campaign to lose 50 pounds, and took up running within 2 months of setting up my desk in this manner. I didn’t really make the connection between the two until recently, but I will say that the timing is suspect.
So, financial abundance, balance, peace, harmony, and professional success were my desired outcomes. I don’t think I did too shabby. Ever since I did this at work, I’ve been wanting to try it at home, to see if I can achieve similar results there. I’ll need a bit more than a single Saturday to make that happen though.