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Increasing Productivity with Home Office “Feng Shui”

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Most of us spend quite a bit of time in our office. Have you set it up to make it a space you actually want to be in?

I mean, look at it this way…

I like to have a nice bed because we spend around a third of our lives in it. If the average person is sleeping 7-8 hours per night, that’s a third of every day.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I spend about that much time in my home office every day, too. Not only that, this is where I MAKE MY MONEY. So, it is a pretty important space. And I imagine the situation is similar with YOUR office.

Are you as productive as you could be in your office? Is your office a space that you like to be in or not?

Perhaps it is time to get your feng shui on to increase efficiency and get more done.

What Is Feng Shui?

Time to get our “woo woo” on. 😉

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese art (and science, really) of arranging spaces in order to assure the health, energy and fortune of the people in that space. “Feng” means “wind” and “Shui” means “water”. In Chinese culture, wind and water are associated with good health.

It is based on a Taoist understanding of nature, including the idea that our environment is filled with “Chi”, or energy. Fostering good “chi” makes the space more conducive to success and health, at least according to this theory.

The obvious question from a practical standpoint is…. Is Feng Shui a bunch of horse hockey?

Truthfully, my gut reaction leans toward “yes”. However, I am a smart enough guy to understand that there ARE things going on in this world that we can’t see. I believe energy DOES impact us in ways we can’t see or even directly feel sometimes.

So, I’m at least willing to look at this idea of feng shui, take the parts that make the most sense to me and put them to use.

Which brings me to my own home office….

What My Office Looked Like

The best way for you to see it is to watch a super-short video I did when I first moved into the house we’re in now. The first part of this video is the old office setup…. then I take you into the video room.

A few things to note about the setup:

  1. I was facing into the wall. My computer was on a corner desk so I was facing smack into a wall all day, with my back to the door.
  2. The hutch on that corner unit was rather claustrophobic. It made the space on the desk look much smaller and it caused the two monitors to bunch up to one another at an angle just to be able to fit on the desk.
  3. The room itself is rather small and kinda dark.

The biggest factor for me was the lack of space. And it led me to say this on Facebook…

Screen Shot 2011 12 18 at 12 15 11 PM

In feng shui, one of the most important ideas is the “command position”. The command position is when you are seated on the far side of the room from your door and FACING the door. Also, you don’t want to be staring right out the doorway. So, essentially, proper command position is when you’re on the furthest diagonal corner from your entry door.

From an article on FastFengShui.com

In the Command Position, you are able to benefit from the chi that enters and flows through the space, while being far enough removed from the doorway that you are not exposed to chi that is too strong. A true Command Position also provides a solid wall behind you for support. Using this position puts you in visual command of the space, and allows you to face life directly, both literally and symbolically.

Well, I was facing AWAY from the door, into a corner, with my back at the door. And anybody could walk up on me without me knowing it. In fact, my kids have done it a few times and it freaks me out. 🙂

So, I Made Some Changes

I decided to move my primary office setup into that video room shown on the second part of the above video. That room has a lot more space to it. Plus, it is convenient having my video setup right there in the same room.

Interestingly, once I decided that the lack of space in my office was affecting my productivity, I set up a make-shift desk in the bigger room just for a week so I could work in the larger room.

IMG 0216

My desk is a modular one which means I could purchase add-ons for it which actually match. So, I picked up a long table desk and NO hutch. I then set up an L-shaped desk setup.

Once the new desk arrived, I got it all set up:

IMG 0221 IMG 0220

I still have yet to work out where all those video lights are going to go so it doesn’t crowd up my field of view, but I’ll figure it out.

Now, here’s the thought that went into it:

  1. When I’m at my computer, my back is now to a wall and I’m looking out into the (much larger) room. Toward the door, too. That is the “command position” according to feng shui.
  2. Aside from this room being larger, it also has two windows. More space that way.
  3. According to feng shui, the southeast corner of your space is the prosperity corner. While the foundation of this seems a little odd to me, it was easy as pie to stick my desk in the southeast corner of the room. So, I did. 🙂
  4. The plant is fake (probably not good feng shui), but at least I’ve got something green in there. Perhaps I’ll replace it with a real one soon.

A few other things I might do to the space are:

  1. As mentioned above, I’ll likely put a real plant into the room. I’ve even thought about setting up a small electric water fountain. The noise of running water is soothing.
  2. Organize the video stuff so that it doesn’t clutter up the room. Clutter is the enemy of focus.
  3. Instead of just hanging any ol’ thing on the wall, I can ensure that the things on the wall represent part of me or things that motivate me. Success images, for example. Photos of my kids.

The Point Is…

We have to like the space we work in. When you do, you won’t mind being there.

We are all “hard-wired” to want space. There’s a reason that, when we feel bad, going for a walk can help. It is because you are looking at space. You are actually creating your own space by observing the space around you.

So, try not to work in a constrained environment. Try to set up your desk with the command position in mind. If you absolutely can’t do that, try faking it with a mirror on the wall so you can see space.

For me, I DO feel as if my efficiency was higher since I moved into the larger room. I enjoyed being in there.

So, What About You?

What do you think? Have you had any experiences with the setup of your office increasing or decreasing your efficiency?


  1. For me one of the biggest problems with my setup (at least I thought it was until you mentioned feeling like a kid banished to the corner) was the clutter. It always feels easier to work there when it’s clean and organized. The fact that it’s not clean and organized right now is probably one of the reasons that I’m working this afternoon my my recliner.

    1. David Risley says:

      Absolutely. Of course, the solution is to…. clean it!


  2. I can totally see the point with the “command” position. My home office is set up similar to what your old one was, and once I moved back to an office out of the home I have a desk where I can see the door, and a desk/hutch behind me, also I have ALWAYS set up my desks where I could at least see out a window, I can even see a little bit of ocean from my home office… but I spend less time there now.

    Anyway, good article Dave, office space is critical to good productivity for me.

    1. David Risley says:

      Yeah, the command position made the most sense to me, too. And, for me, it isn’t necessarily about commanding anything as much as it is having SPACE in front of me and not feeling constrained.

  3. tsitalia says:

    Good article! I’m just thinking to change something in order to have more natural light and more “air” .

    Maybe I’ll add a plant

  4. Anonymous says:

    A well organized and comfortable work space is very important, but I am not necessarily sold on the specifics of feng shui!  Plenty of elbow room and easy access to computer ports is important to me.  I cut lots of videos so set up draped cloth as a video background on the wall behind me.   I have lots of standard office organizational tools like a rolodex and file drawers too. 

    1. David Risley says:

      Cool. Yeah, everybody has to make up their own mind. There’s a lot in feng shui that strikes me as, well…. BS. 🙂 But, it is interesting nonetheless and I simply swipe the ideas that make sense to me.

      1. Anonymous says:

        Yup, that seems like the way to do it.  Take the good and leave the rest.  A lot of it seems silly to me too but there are good points as well. 

  5. Chuck Bartok says:

    I completely refurnished several months ago and was very productive…….
    but much to Shirley’s chagrin, I tend to let it CLUTTER.
    More Clutter, less production…
    After 68 years, you would think I would learn something????

    1. David Risley says:

      Yep. It takes discipline to keep things clean. Another thing to consider is the systems you’re acting upon that lead to it. For example, are you using your desk as a big “todo” list? Perhaps using a filing bucket would be better, to keep things in one spot.

      1. Chuck Bartok says:

        …….And I just mentioned Discipline ABOVE.
        The problem is totally mine and being solved, thanks for setting things back on track

  6. Michael says:

    Can you make a video of your new office setup? With a little “feng shui play-by-play”?

    1. David Risley says:

      Perhaps. Subscribe to my Youtube channel. 😉

  7. Sergio Felix says:

    Looks pretty cool to me David!

    However one question though:

    how do you keep your recordings free of child yelling or is there a door I didn’t see?


    1. Chuck Bartok says:

      I am sure his children know not to disturb.
      Ours did and so do the grandchildren.
      It gives them a sense of importance with a discipline to Master.

    2. David Risley says:

      The kids are gone during the bulk of the day, and don’t get back until around 5 or so. So, it works out fine. 🙂 Astute observation, though. 🙂

  8. I’ve been using aspects of Feng Shui (pronounced Fung Shway) for about 30 years, and it really works! We built our previous house on Feng Shui principles, and I have wonderful Feng Shui stories to tell.

    Feng Shui is actually interactive… it works FOR you because of the way YOU work. When it’s not right, you will feel thwarted, held back, suppressed, or overtaxed. Feng Shui tactics are NEVER absolute, in my experience.
    To me, it’s all about the flow. If you can get from point A to point B within a home or a room with no “hard” blockages, barriers, stops, stumbles, or turns… it flows. In practical terms this might mean moving extra furniture out of the room; and of course, get rid of the clutter!
    If you can move from one task to the next without having to rearrange, reposition, move, or
    negotiate alternate layouts… it flows. I could not work in my quilting studio until I got the FLOW right for the order of my tasks. Now it works!
    My quilting studio is tiny, and does not allow me the flexibility to set up in the command position, so I hung a long skinny door-mirror – sideways- and I can see anyone that enters the room; I can also see the TV screen (behind me) in the mirror, since I often sew for several hours a day with a movie playing.
    There are several “schools” of Feng Shui. The one I prefer uses the Bagua based on the entrance to the room or home, rather than absolute compass positions.
    Some Feng Shui consultants say to place Chinese coins in certain positions for prosperity. Uhhh, I don’t want Chinese money; I want American money! So use what will have an impact on your prosperity consciousness. (Beware of absolutes!)

    1. David Risley says:

      Yeah, when reading up on it, I even found discrepencies between sites. Like, with the prosperity corner, some people say to put metal in it… others say don’t.

      Whatever, though. I just do what makes sense. 🙂

  9. Blaine says:

    Great improvement!  I’m in the process of figuring out my own space as well. My current office is similar to your old one…I’m sitting in a corner facing away from the door in a tiny room. It’s going to become a nursery in the not too distant future, though, so I’ll be building myself a standing station and setting it probably in the basement after Winter ends.  My plan was to face it in such a way that I could look out a window, although that would still have my back to the areas of entry, so maybe I’ll rethink that. Perhaps I’ll put the current desk facing the window with the standing station forming an L out into the room…

    1. David Risley says:

      Thanks, man. And congrats on the pending arrival. 🙂

  10. Well written stuff on feng shui. Coming from an Asian country (of Malaysia) I am a true believe of feng shui. There are other feng shui also available and to me, as a rational person, I will stick to the one that is effective for a long time. David, I replied your newsletter at david@davidrisley.com something regarding this universal energy. Would like your opinion on it. 🙂

  11. Mike CJ says:

    Now I know where I’ve been going wrong – my wife’s desk is in the prosperity corner! I can feel a change coming on over the Christmas break.

    Seriously though, I was brought up in Hong Kong, and I can remember my Dad getting “The Feng Shui man” in every time he rearranged stuff at his company’s offices – it was taken very seriously. And he made a fortune!

  12. Iris says:

    Very helpful David. Thanks for sharing. I’m working in a tight space right now. Looking forward to the day I can expand my space.

  13. Bradley says:

    I don’t know anything about Feng Shui, but I know what feels right. At the moment I have my home office setup in the loft of our house. I am able to get lots of natural light in the mornings. I have the space in front of me. I hate feeling like someone is looking over my shoulder! I tend to keep things pretty tidy. I hate clutter.

    There are a few changes I would like to make to feel more productive. Some art on the walls, a plant or two, better lighting for the other times of day, and move the dog crate. My dog’s crate is right in front of my desk right now. It makes it a little constrained feeling at times. 

    My office space at the day job… sucks. But I have no real way to change it. :/

  14. Anonymous says:

    Here is a tip for those of you who have a ton of papers, folder, books, etc on your desk….
    Sweep it all onto the floor so you have a clean desk.  Over the course of a week, if you need something, dig it out.  What’s left after one week is stuff you can throw away or stuff in a folder called “it wasn’t as important as I thought.”  You’d be surprised at how much you don’t really need.

  15. Are Morch says:

    Hi David.

    Really interesting article. Me and my wife went to a Feng Shui course once. And we have been practicing it for a while. 

    It has really helped me out. I am not the most organized person in the world, and when you see my desk I usually will have ‘100’ things spread around.. lol..

    Feng Shui is all about removing the clutter. It has made me a lot more efficient. Was funny, I even used a compass to organize my office. It just puzzled my mind when I experienced the end result. My office was like taken out from a catalog. 

    Now I will not become that super neet dude, but it made a huge difference for me here. 


    Are Morch
    Hotel Blogger 

  16. David,

    Your article was a good read.  I am not a Feng Shui fan, I think they can be very complicated to understand.  I do agree however that we have to like the space we work in. For me, clutter in the work are is never good.  I love clean work spaces where I know which office tool is where and is easily reachable, not only does it make me feel comfortable even with loads of work, it helps me keep organized.  

  17. I totally have. This is awesome btw. Love the video and the after picture. As much as people want to ignore this kind of stuff, it really makes a difference. But then again, people who ignore these little things, probably aren’t that conscious anyway 🙂 

  18. some little things can make a difference and sometimes those things can help even in there little contributions. But sometimes the greatest Feng Shui you can have is to be self motivated and to feel good everyday in order to be productive.

  19. pablodenzel says:

    amazing , i do agree with you . workplace must be appealing and refreshing. that allows you to work nicely .

  20. Anonymous says:

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  21. Ivana says:

    I know that your room should always be  light – so that money could want to come to you;)

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