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“One of the things that affects stress levels is the degree of control you have over a situation. ” [Domar].

Mastering one’s workspace makes spending time in the office more enjoyable, and consequently, less stressful. Eastern philosophers would even argue that our material attachments work at cross purposes to achieving spiritual enlightenment (Carlomagno, 2008). More space is simply a larger area for mess to multiply. Imagine the stress you would feel if you were suddenly audited by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), and were unable to produce important documents, or a portion of your data. In her book Healing Spaces (2009, p. 131), Sternberg explains: “When we enter a new space, we look for logical patterns and connections. If we can’t find any, we feel unsettled.” Stress is caused by things strewn haphazardly about, and our inability to accomplish a personal inventory and subsequent purge. It is also the result of having to go back and forth constantly to rectify mistakes generated from loose ends that were never adequately addressed in the first place. Just sitting in a cluttered room can create stress due to the visual assault on your senses (Scott, 2007). Instead of a sanctuary that induces a sense of well being, your workplace may instead look like a myriad of projects swimming in a pool of debris.

Having a systematic way of dealing with paperwork can help you create a workplace that soothes your senses rather than increases your anxiety. Feng shui masters even maintain that a well ordered work environment will help to draw positive energy into your area. Companies like Virgin Atlantic Airways, Texas First National Bank, and Mutual of New York all believe in the restorative power of feng shui principles (Weltman & Hayes, 2005). Furthermore, Sternberg (2009, p. 168) describes how physical space impacts our mood and resulting behavior: “…there are places in the world where the experience of entering a place seems to have an almost miraculous ability to soothe anxiety and despair…people who have learned to associate a place with a positive feeling…will benefit from simply being in that place.” That which is restful to the eye is soothing to your spirit and beneficial to your health. The restorative power of a pleasing environment and the health benefits of positive aesthetics have in fact become a scientific area of study. Ecological health, which focuses on the incorporation of nature, soft lighting, artwork, soothing colors, and pleasant sounds inside institutional settings is currently being undertaken by the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture [ANFA]. Conversely, feng shui experts recognize the potential “killing chi” of an office piled high with unnecessary paraphernalia:

 “Clutter isn’t just messy; it’s a magnet for attracting negative energy. If your desk and floor are scattered with unfinished projects, papers, files and mail, energy can’t flow freely. Trapped energy either goes stagnant or builds up into a force that can make you feel jittery, overwhelmed, irritable, fatigued or depressed. In such an environment, you’ll find it’s hard to concentrate and complete tasks” (Turner, 2009).

Your office can be either a welcoming space that beckons visitors, or a disheveled mess that diverts your attention. Harmonious energy can be invited into your workspace through strategic placement of furniture, accessories, and paintings (for a more detailed explanation, see Lillian Too’s Easy to use Feng Shui: 168 Ways to Success and About Feng Shui and Office Organization).



Carlomagno, M. (2008). Secrets of simplicity: Learn to live better with less. San Francisco, CA:   Chronicle Books LLC.

Scott, E. The cost of clutter: How does clutter affect you? (September 26, 2007). What level of  clutter is realistic? Stress Management. Retrieved from

Sternberg, E. M. (2009). Healing spaces: The science of space and well being. Boston, MA: Harvard  University Press.

Turner, R. P. (2009). Classical feng shui: Is your office sabotaging your success? Ezine Articles.  Retrieved from—Is-Your-Office-Sabotaging- Your-Success?&id=2312823.

Weltman, B., & Hayes. M. (2005). Feng shui for beginners.  Journal of accountancy. Journal of  Accountancy, 200, 36-39.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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