Fun Shui (sm): Organize to energize your work and your life

By Gail Howerton, Fun*cilitators

The ancient Chinese art of placement and alignment called Feng Shui (fung shway) is sweeping the western world. This 4000-year old practice of arranging buildings on property, rooms in a building, furniture and items in a room, and items on furniture has an effect opn the flow of chi (or energy) in our environment. 
Some of the canons of Feng Shui include:

1. All things have an energy field, an aura, about them and living things give off more energy than dead things. (live flowers vs. plastic/silk/dried flowers)

2. Hand-made things give off more energy than machine-made things. (an oil painting vs. a movie poster)

3. Things that are closer to their natural origin give off more energy than things that have been through more processes. (an oak desk vs. a steel desk)

4. Chi, or energy, flows and swirls throughout your space. It flows faster down straight paths, meanders in a curved path, and dies in corners. It is better to have furniture, plants, or other objects set diagonally in either an inverted corner or a normal room corner to allow a better flow of energy.

5. The placement of the stove, the bed, and the desk are the most powerful placements in a setting and they should be within full sight of the main entrance to the room. The back should be protected in order to be the most auspicious arrangement.

6. Different colors in our environment have different effects on our energy and our mood both psychologically and physically. (white, sterile medical office vs. those painted mauve, blue, or green with an indoor fountain).

A new twist on the ancient art is an adapted version called Fun Shui (SM) which includes other methodologies to organize, and energize your space to make it more enjoyable and effective. The plain truth is that those people who are more organized are more energized by their environment. In one survey 75% of workers wasted up to 30 minutes per day looking for lost items and 8% waste over an hour per day looking for misplaced stuff. (i.e. files, car keys, memos, phone numbers). It not only wastes our time and others’ time while they wait for us to search; it also depletes our energy. The negative self-talk which ensues aids in draining our energy as well.

The solution is to find systems which work with your preferences and (dis)organizational style. When we are comfortable with our style, we will use it before we would use somebody else’s system which is imposed on us. Those of us who operate more from the left side of our brain - the logical, sequential, linear-thinking part of our brain tend to store things in a vertical position and behind closed doors. These are known as File People and they usually have less clutter and papers on their desk than their co-workers. Those of us who operate primarily out of the right side of our brain; the creative, artsy, free-flowing side tend to store things within view and horizontally....also known as piles. These folks are the Pile People and usually have lots of stacks and visual clutter around their work space. Their slogan is; “out of sight, out of mind” - they need projects, documents, or other cues in front of them as a stimulus telling them that they need to take action.

Then there are those of us who operate on more of an integrated system of both left and right brain and the tendency is a mixture of neatly organized and labeled piles such as stacking in/out boxes and baskets, letter holders, horizontal cubby holes, or open-air hanging file carts. The goal is to figure out your style and design a system which works for your preference so you will be most effective.

An organizational tip for anybody wishing to avoid the dreaded “to file” pile; have your file cabinet within arm’s reach preferably on the dominant side of your body. Arrange the drawers so the most-used files are in the drawer most accessible at arm’s length when your are seated. This placement saves you time and energy and eases the filing and retrieval process so you won’t have to stand up or squat down to handle files. Place daily-used items on your desk within easy grasp and those less-used items in a nearby drawer. Store occasionally-used items away from your desk to free up space in your immediate area. Use a critical eye on your horizontal surfaces to see if they can be better utilized.

Surround yourself with things that bring you joy and positive energy and delete the clutter and the things that drain your energy such as things which hold negative memories. Use natural hand-made products for the biggest boost, along with soothing music, fresh flowers or some type of aromatherapy (candles, essential oils, potpourri) to enhance your energy and sense of well being. Displaying photographs, toys (Koosh balls, stress balls etc) original art, hand-made rugs, or desk accessories also sets the tone for a pleasant work environment. Allowing fresh air and natural light into your space helps productivity and using full-spectrum lighting vs. fluorescent lighting can increase productivity by 25% according to research.

By making educated choices about how you select your environment; you can control many aspects affecting your enjoyment and your effectiveness at home and at work. Fun Shui (SM) gives your tips and tactics for an unfair advantage over the things that drain your energy by following the motto: organize to energize.

About the Author:
Copyright © Gail Howerton. This article reprinted with permission from the Fun*cilitators website. Gail Howerton is author of Hit Any Key to Energize...A Caffeine-Free Guide to Perk up Your Spirits. Contact Gail at, or (800) 930-6096 for more information on energizing your worksite and your customers, for Recognition FUNdamentals kits, or for your free tips sheet on Energy Gains and Drains .