Many of us are working from home right now, due to the government’s recommendations on social distancing related to COVID-19. As we deal with a lot of technology businesses, many of their team members are set up for this already, but for some of us, it’s slightly bewildering. And of course, we’ve been thrown into it with barely any preparation.
As I’m striving to be a beacon of positivity for my colleagues and friends in these dark times, I decided to investigate how all of us can improve our home working conditions in order to make the next few weeks or months as productive and positive as they can be under the circumstances. And the first thing I turned to was – of course – feng shui.
Feng shui (Chinese: 風水), is a traditional practice originating from ancient China. It involves considering the environment we have built around us, i.e. our homes, and how they interact with the principles of the natural world. It is used to introduce and maintain a positive energy in our homes, with the fundamental premise that human life can be improved by interacting and living in harmony with the environment around us.
I’ve been trying to feng shui my box room (now my home office) for nearly a week. Here’s the article I used for inspiration. It’s well worth a read.
As the week progressed, I have tried to follow the advice as best I can, and I’m finally ready to report back on the transformation of my box room into a serene office space that’s ideally suited for a busy recruiter like me to thrive.
The first tip in the article suggests having your home office as far from your bedroom as possible. This isn’t possible for me, as I can see the bedroom door from my box room. I briefly contemplated relocating my home office to the dining room, but my partner works from there and I don’t want us to distract one another, so the box room it is. However, my partner doesn’t start work until much later in the morning, so as a short-term solution on my first feng shui morning, I threw a pillow at him and ordered him to ‘stop snoring, you’re ruining my feng shui!’
Verdict: moderate, although temporary, feng shui success.
“It is recommended that you introduce inspirational colours, meaningful career memorabilia and appropriate décor items that make you feel successful, appreciated, and happy.” I do have some ancient certificates from successes many years ago, such as my degree certificate. Sadly, they are located in a little box that resides at the back of a wardrobe, whose entrance I have recently sealed off by stuffing the former contents of the box room in front of it some days ago because they were messing up my feng shui.
But then I remembered that my mum had sent over some random things from my childhood bedroom a few years ago, and these were easily accessible under the bed (sadly this meant a trip to the bedroom but I kept it brief to ensure I maintained my work mask.) I dug the box out and found what I was looking for – a plaque that I received when I competed in the junior riding club championships in Northern Ireland back when I was a teenager. I installed it on a shelf next to my workstation, as a constant reminder that even though times are tough, at least there was a time 28 years ago when I was good at convincing a pony to jump over fences.
Verdict: Feng shui success!
Air and Light
It’s important to consider the air and light quality in your home office. Air-purifying plants can be used to refresh the energy of the space itself, and your own energy as well.
Fortunately I’ve noticed that there is a substantial draft in the box room so I’m confident that the fresh air from outside is filling my lungs with every breath as I huddle at my desk in a poncho because it is flipping freezing in here. But just in case, I installed a cactus. Its pretty big, so I had to unclutter a bit in order to fit it in (the pile in front of the wardrobe grows ever bigger) but uncluttering is good, I think. Also, I’m confident the light in here is ok, on account of the massive drafty window. Brrrr.
Verdict: Feng shui success!
Be Mindful of Position
Ok. So according to the principles of feng shui, you should not have your back to the door, your desk should not be near the door or in line with it, and you should not face a wall. Erm, the reality is that this is a box room, and even emptied of its contents, it is smaller than my shed. And colder, probably. My desk is facing a wall and even in the furthest corner from the door, I am still so close to the door that I can close it without getting out of the comfy chair I swiped from the office. So, I accepted the layout of the room and decided to install some art on the wall, as you can see.
Verdict: Moderate feng shui success. The wall has not entirely disappeared, although I have something to look at now. And I expect the mid-morning cravings for gin will pass eventually.
Just as I feared, the limitations of the box room are causing problems. I have no idea which corner is my fame and reputation area, but I do keep a water bottle on my desk, so I’ve stuffed it behind the cactus just in case it puts down my fire energy. Just as I was contemplating the addition of metal to my career area, one of the cats wandered in and proceeded to lick himself all over right in the middle of my prosperity and abundance area.
Verdict: Feng shui fail!
Declutter and organise
It is true that ‘clutter drains your energy and dampens your best intentions’. Even as I sit as my desk with my massive cactus, celebrating my teenage show jumping triumph, staring at the art on my non-wall and contemplating a mid-morning cocktail, I have pangs of anxiety about the pile of stuff that has accumulated in front of the wardrobe in the spare room. Then I had a brainwave. I rose from my chair, and shut the spare room door.
There’s a time for decluttering and organising, and it’s called the weekend. I’m not quite there yet, so this one will have to wait.
Verdict: Deferred, yet inevitable, feng shui success.
As I look around my little office I’m feeling pretty pleased. In just a few days I’ve transformed an unused, cluttered space into a functional, comfortable home office (I suppose you could also argue that I have also transformed a functional, comfortable spare bedroom into a cluttered, non-functional space, and then just shut the door, but hey, I’m new to this.)
I’ve written this as a comedy article, but I genuinely did do all the things I’ve described here in order to make my work-space comfortable, functional and productive. It is likely that I will have to use it for quite a few weeks or even months, so it is important. Also, applying myself to this project in little bursts has helped me greatly during this transitional period as all of us have struggled to adjust to the changes to our daily lives that COVID-19 has thrust upon us. It’s given me something else to focus on.
This has been a weird week in recruitment – some projects have been cancelled, clients are worried. Candidates are worried. Other projects have not been cancelled, and clients are trying to find creative ways to ensure business as usual. We’re doing our part to help the clients that will need to recruit to ensure that they succeed, by offering them a contact-free recruitment solution.
There have been moments this week when I’ve panicked that I haven’t been as productive as usual – I’ve since taken some good advice that it is ok to take some time to process what is happening in our lives. If you’re a first time home worker like me, try to prioritise the most important things, and think about ways that you can make your new environment a positive one, so that you can ease yourself into the challenges of the next few weeks or months.
With everything that is happening, I think my mind needs a little feng shui as well, and I’m working on that too.
We’re all in this together. Stay strong.