Whether you earn big bucks working in a high rise office setting or whether you’re managing life (your own and/or others’) from home base without the benefit of a paycheck, it’s all work.
Sometimes I ask people if they get paid for their work, but I never ask anyone (especially mothers), “Do you work?”
This week’s Feng Shui February focus is on workspaces. Since I’ll be ramping up career energy this year by marketing my book and garden photography, I want to do what I can to enhance the positive chi around my workspace.
A long time ago when I was still trapped in the left side of my brain as an international economist, I used a small bedroom as my home office. That room was swallowed up with a bathroom remodel a few years ago. My husband and I now share an office (another moderately-sized bedroom down the hall).
We had originally squeezed two full-sized desks into the space, but, as I explained to my Feng Shui consultant Carol Olmstead when she first visited the house three years ago, I hated being in that room.
My preference was to do my writing in the window seat of my kitchen, where I could look out at the garden for inspiration and soak in the sunlight streaming through the glass. My perch at the window was also the perfect spot from which to scope out flora and fauna photo ops in my backyard.
Carol came up with the perfect solution of getting rid of my desk in the office. The large size of the desk made me feel inadequate during a period of my life when I had decided to focus on family and my mind/body/soul health. The desk screamed, “You should be doing the important work you got your masters degree for instead of that silly creative work you play around with.”
That bulky piece of furniture cramped my style and my creativity. I needed to be able to move around freely with my work.
I replaced the big rectangle with a vertical shelf unit and a comfy recliner chair. But I still did most of my writing on my laptop in the kitchen.
This year, though, I’m feeling more business-y. I need more organizational space than the kitchen can offer, not to mention the fact that garden critters and plants manage to distract me a little too often.
So I’m reclaiming my space in the office. While I’m not able to follow Virginia Wolf’s advice for female writers to have a room of their own, I can at least have half a room of my own.
I pulled my marching orders from Carol’s Feng Shui Quick Guide for Home and Office (by the way, I am not a paid advertiser for this book. I really do use it all the time!). Carol advises:
“If you want to have new ideas, attract clients, or make progress in your business, get rid of desktop clutter, clean out file cabinets, and clear your hard drive and you will make room for new projects, customers, and ideas.”
Clutter? What clutter?
The magazine holder was a little less overwhelming than the “desk” shelves, so I started there.
Whenever I can, I look for ways to turn work into play. For example, the number 27 is auspicious in Feng Shui theory. Clearing 27 items from a space is a common prescription to promote forward movement and improve positive chi. In fact, Carol says specifically, “Throw away 27 things in your office to create an opening for success to flow into your career.”
I tried it out on the magazine holder, getting rid of any magazine that I hadn’t looked at in over a year. If I hadn’t read it yet, I wasn’t ever going to (especially since all of the articles would be online anyway). Here’s the result, after removing 27 items.
Whether there’s really special power in the number 27 or not, the game got me started.
The next two areas I tackled were the little table next to the chair and a pile of bags and boxes in the corner that had been sitting there for many months (years?).
Then I cleared the space behind the chair where I had shoved a file box and an accordion folder holding book drafts. I cleared space in the closet for these items.
To keep myself focused, I set my timer for 30-minute sessions. I picked up one item at a time, decided whether to trash it or file it, and would then do so on the spot. No more making piles of things to take care of later on.
When the timer chimed, I’d take a break from clutter clearing for a few minutes to complete some other (easier) task on my to-do list for the day. Or I’d give myself 10 minutes on Facebook or Google+ (again using the timer) before turning back to the elephant that I was eating one bite at a time.
Once the smaller clusters of clutter were cleared, I could no longer avoid the “desk” (da da DAHHHHHH).
Splitting my work sessions into 30-minute chunks of time, or sometimes even 15-minute chunks depending on other obligations, was key to keeping me on task. I took it one area at a time, starting with the mountain of papers piled in the inbox.
Bank statements and school report cards got filed, valid coupons went into a ziplock bag to be stored in the car so that I might actually USE them, medical records were relegated to the appropriate folder in a file box stored in the closet. (Several years ago I had set up a pretty good infrastructure in the office closet — I just hadn’t been using it very well.)
The deeper into the pile I progressed, the faster the job went. Some of the school papers and coupons dated back to 2013. Humbling, to say the least.
My husband’s Christmas stocking, knit by his aunt many decades ago and in need of repair, had been taking up space on a desk shelf since late December. I not only put the stocking in a mailing envelope, I even drove to the post office to send it to the knitting aunt for mending. (Thank you, Aunt Susan!)
I cleared out all the birthday, Valentine’s, Mothers Day, and anniversary cards I had stored in an antique box of my grandmother’s. All of these cards have meaning to me, so I collected them into a folder that I then stored in a closet file box. I left a couple of inspirational notes and a few photographs of loved ones in the refreshed antique box, which is now ready to receive many more years’ worth of expressions of love from my family.
And so it went. All in all, it took me several hours over the course of a few days to complete the project (hence the slightly delayed weekend post).
So what do you think?
The only books remaining on the bottom shelf are those that inspire me. There’s plenty of clear surface space for my laptop and new work material. The inbox is empty, expect for my daily planner and about four items that need attention soon. The pink boxes hold my writing idea index cards. The globe reminds me of our travels and friends around the world. The African statue on the floor appeases my husband (whose decor I shifted to “his” side of the room–more about that next week) and prevents me from piling more bags and boxes in that space. I swept the floor and cleaned the window in line with Carol’s recommendations, clearing away any remaining negative energy and clarifying my outward perspective.
And though I haven’t yet cleared space from my computer hard drive, I did visit the Apple Store’s help desk twice this week to get our external back-up system working again, so I know all of our data is secure. After finishing this blog post, I’ll clean my computer screen and keyboard per Carol’s prescriptions.
It feels fantastic, but there’s still a bit more to do. Stay tuned for next week’s post, where I’ll talk about how to employ artwork in Feng Shui fixes.
What about you? Could your workspace use some sprucing up? I’d love to hear about it!
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