You journaled your way into unlocking your peak productivity hour. You started drafting your to-do lists the night before each workday. And hey, it took some time, but you’ve learned to settle into the awkward silence that follows saying “no” to things that don’t serve you. But if you’re still looking for ways to get more done in a day, maybe you should reconsider your floor plan. No, seriously. If you’re working from home—or have an office—it’s worth moving your desk into a “power position,” says interior designer Gabrielle Santiago. This position is based on the principles of Feng Shui (Santiago’s a certified practitioner), and the Los Angeles-based designer has found it makes a huge difference in your ability to focus on work.
Feng Shui advocates positioning your desk so that when you sit down, you’re facing the entrance to your office. That may seem distracting at first—won’t you always notice who’s coming and going?—but Santiago argues the opposite is worse. You want to see who’s coming and going, so you don’t feel like anyone’s creeping up on you.
“Think of this like an elevator full of people. When we see the elevator is full, we tend to stand by the buttons because it’s a point of control, or with our backs against the wall, because it’s the safest way for us to see everything,” she says. “Subconsciously, our mind and body want to feel in control, so when we consciously place our desk and office in this manor, it provides a huge relief that we can all benefit from.”
If you can’t position your desk to face the doorway, Santiago suggests hanging a mirror so that you can easily glance up and see the entryway that way. “Additionally, a desk chair with a high back can also aid a sense of security,” she adds. “When we can’t see what is entering our space face on, it can leave us feeling insecure and unsure. A high back chair can make us feel extra protected from those feelings and energy.”
Practitioners of Feng Shui believe in balancing the flow of energy, or Chi, in a room. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and overworked, Santiago suggests taking a closer look at your surroundings. “Does your desk face a window? Does this window face a street? Does your desk face an elevator?” she asks. If you answered yes, you’re facing a hub of activity, which can be frazzling.
In Feng Shui, it’s known as having a lot of “fast chi” entering your space, and it needs to be slowed down. You can do this by adding other notes of visual interest to the room, like a patterned rug and curtains, Santiago says. (Think of it like sitting in a sparse room with a TV that keeps changing channels every 30 seconds. You can’t help but be distracted by it. With other things in the room, you start to tune it out, and it commands less of your attention.)
On the flip side, if you feel like the 3 o’clock slump is happening, well, at any time of the day, your space may be suffering from “slow chi,” Santiago says. Decluttering and painting the room in energizing colors (such as crisp whites and pastels) can help here, as can adding an element of nature—particularly water.
“Consider adding a water fountain, fish tank or anything that resembles movement,” she notes. Water’s gentle bubbling sounds can act as white noise, helping you zero in on what you want to accomplish, but even just the movement of the water can be a low-key way to inspire you to just keep going, just keep going, just keep going, going, going. (That’s how the phrase in that Pixar movie goes, right?)