Working from home has some fantastic advantages: no commute, flexible working hours, and the ability to work around children. But how do you make sure your office space is kept as pleasant, peaceful and work-inspiring as possible?
Starting your own business from home usually means one of two things – you either have the luxury of a spare room to call your office, or you’re tucked away in the corner of your kitchen/living room/bedroom. Whatever your current scenario, there are several ways to improve your working environment and keep you motivated during the day – without any distractions!
The Concept of Feng Shui
An ancient concept, Feng Shui is based around balance – predominantly the principles of Yin and Yang, but also the balancing of the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. The phrase Feng Shui translates very literally as ‘wind and water’, and is designed to help accommodate a person naturally into their surroundings to achieve a sense of calm and connection with the present.
Feng Shui is a very complex study, which takes years to fully understand. The basic premise, however, is this: every space has an energy flow. You need to find ways to balance and encourage the positive energy flow – and don’t block it. A blocked energy flow results in a negative environment.
Using Feng Shui To Adapt Your Home Office
Let’s start off with your furniture. Can you easily move around your office space? Is there anything in the area which doesn’t need to be there?
If, for example, you regularly use your printer, but it’s hidden away in a cupboard, this can disrupt your flow. Instead, place it within easy reach where it is accessible (but not in the way).
Your desk should be in a ‘power position’. This is a place where you have your back to a wall, wherever possible (or at the very least, a high-backed chair). The power position is somewhere you feel safe, strong, and protected – so avoid placing it directly opposite the door, as this can disrupt the energy flow of your office. Instead, place it as far from the door as possible so that you can see as much of the room as you can all in one glance. The best position is on a diagonal across the far corner of the room.
Add Plants, Mirrors, And Colour
Following Feng Shui rules, a mirror can bring in the outside. This is a good thing! Unless, that is, there are any bad forms outside the window, such as pylons or a plain brick wall. A mirror is supposed to double the Feng Shui of its area, so placing one where it’ll reflect a negative item will duplicate the effects in the room.
Mirrors are great for placing behind your desk, as the Feng Shui of your hard work will be reflected back to you, so you’ll be reaping twice the reward. A mirror placed in front of the desk, however, can have a negative Feng Shui (or just distracts you from your work as you admire that new hairdo).
Plants are fantastic things for improving your home office space, too. They not only purify the air, but also counteract negative energy, especially when located within three feet of your computer. Consider a little table cactus or a bonsai tree for your desk. It’s even better if you can find a wooden planter to keep your vegetation in, as this element is supposed to promote creativity, motivation, and inspiration.
If you’re feeling really unmotivated and just can’t seem to pull any ideas out of the ether, you need some fire in your life. Rather than a drastic setting-fire-to-your-office-in-a-rage scenario, try lighting a scented candle or some invigorating incense to bring heat and excitement to your ideas.
Our final Feng Shui tip is to use colour wisely. Choose something that’ll improve your productivity and motivation, and reduce any negative emotions. Calming colours, such as sandstone and pastels, will help bring peace to the room and provide you the mental energy to focus on difficult tasks. Avoid harsh colours such as red as, while they can be energising, this can be exhausting when you’re continuously sat around it. If you want to bring some money into your life, try using a metallic colour to highlight one wall or area – be careful that you don’t overdo it though, as that’ll disturb the balance!
You can always bring your personality to your office by hanging a piece of artwork that you love on the wall opposite your desk. If you’re staring at a blank wall, your energy will constantly feel like it’s going up against an obstacle, but a painting or favourite photo can break this up and create a positive environment.
De-Clutter and Maximise Your Storage Space
A cluttered office space equals a cluttered mind. There’s no way you can focus if you are surrounded by piles of paper and desk junk. Tidy up!
Make the most of desk drawers by using a drawer organiser. If your minimalist desk (or kitchen table) doesn’t have drawers, invest in some aesthetically-pleasing inbox trays. Make a section for incoming, urgent to do, awaiting response, and items to send. File away any completed paperwork as soon as it’s done, in a box file or lever arch file that can be stored anywhere – it doesn’t have to be in your office.
Pick your perfect stationary choices and stick with them. Think about investing in your own branded letterheads, notepads, or postcards to send out to clients: it’ll give you a boost to see your logo on everything and help you feel like a ‘real’ business owner. When working from home, we all have ‘imposter syndrome’ feelings now and then. Having concrete proof right in front of you that your business exists can be motivation enough to keep going on the tough days.
Separate Business and Work
If you’re tucked away in the corner of an existing room, it can be very difficult to put aside your home life while at work, and vice versa. Find ways to eliminate the temptation: if you’re based in your living room, hide the remote so you’re not tempted to switch on the TV.
It might be worth investing in a ‘fold-away’ office space, such as a hideaway computer desk cupboard that you can close the doors on at the end of the working day.
Create a ‘start work’ and ‘end work’ ritual, too. This could be as simple as sitting down with a cup of coffee at the beginning of the day to create a daily Must Do list, and again at the end of the day to tick everything off. This can help you to mentally switch on and off from work, even if you’re in a bedsit studio where everything is in the same room.