Keep Calm…and Make Your Home Office a Productive, Minimal-Stress Zone with Feng Shui

Working from a home office isn’t as free and easy an experience as people often imagine.Feng shui your home office for productivity and stress management

1. Distractions abound.

2. You never completely leave your work behind.

Having felt the stress of some aggressive deadlines and and too much on my plate, I realize it’s not just how I manage my time that makes a difference in my ability to cope. Having a working environment within your home that’s conducive to both productivity and stress management can make the difference between “pumped up” and “burned out”, too.

I’ve been trying to become more in tune with how my surroundings influence my demeanor. For  instance, playing classical music on Pandora while I work tends to soothe my nerves and calm me when I’m feeling frazzled. But I realize there’s much more I could do to make my office a place that enhances my concentration and productivity, while keeping stress at bay. I did a little research on the topic and thought I’d share some of my findings with you.

Ways to Create a More Productive, Less Stressful Home Office

Employ the 5 elements of Feng Shui

With thousands of years behind it, the concept of feng shui fascinates me. The ancient Chinese system, which uses design choices to create and guide our physical and emotional energy, involves five elements we can use to achieve a balanced state in our home offices. It’s actually a lot more complex than that, but here are some elemental basics if you’ve got an open mind and want to try to incorporate some of the principles of feng shui into your home office. The key is to have a healthy balance of the five elements so the energy of your space is working for you rather than against you.

  • Wood
    Wood represents personal growth, intuition, inspiration, and creativity. Consider decorating your space with some wood furniture, small plants, and perhaps some flowers. The color green is traditionally associated with the wood element. And purple, believe it or not, is another wood color. It represents abundance and expression. When looking to accentuate your creative powers through wood, choose energizing, not dull or gray hues.


  • Earth
    Earth energy serves to support and ground you. It provides stability and balance. Decor (like baskets or ceramic pots) low to the ground and square, rectangular, and horizontal objects, particularly made of earth materials like straw, stone, and brick will enhance earth’s stabilizing properties in your work space. Earth colors are brown and yellow, but make sure the yellow is muted rather than clear and bright.


  • Fire
    Fire promotes transformation, leadership, and enthusiasm. Its energy helps you welcome new ideas and gives you the motivation to share your abilities and skills. In your home office, candles, sunlight through your window, and lamps can all bring more fire energy into your space. Decor items shaped liked triangles, diamonds and pyramids and the colors red, orange, and pink are associated with fire.  Aim for bright colors and semi-gloss paints that make the room more reflective to boost your office’s fire power.


  • Metal
    Metal enhances clarity and logic. It actually has two aspects, just like the mind: a dense and focused left-brained aspect and a dynamic, in motion left-brained aspect.  White, gray, and silver are left-brain energy boosting colors, while the rainbow colors stimulate creativity. Decor items that can help pull you into focus include wind chimes and bells. Metallic shelves, desks, and office accessories can boost creative energy.


  • Water
    The water element represents release and rejuvenation. It helps you let go of what isn’t beneficial and opens you to renewal of your insight and inspiration. Fountains, aquariums, and objects with reflective surfaces can bring water energy to your office. Colors of the water element include black and deeper, darker hues of blue.

Note that the objects you place in your office can represent multiple elements. For example, a metal desk with its horizontal surface represents both metal and earth. In other words, you can get more bang for your buck if you thoughtfully select objects.

Based on my untrained assessment of my office, I’ve got a lot of earth in my space, a decent amount of metal, but I could stand to some more water, fire, and wood. I’m hoping the candle with the wooden wick in my photo will help with that, but it appears some office accessories shopping is in order.

Have you ever considered the principles of feng shui for your home office? At first glance, is your working space feng shui friendly or a feng shui failure?

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Soloprener™ Post


McWilliams, Stephanie. “The Elements of Feng Shui”. n.d. (accessed April 27, 2014).

Stasney, Sharon. Feng Shui Chic: Stylish Designs for Harmonious Living. Edited by Laura Best. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing, Co., Inc./Chapelle, Ltd., 2000.


Making Summer Work for the Home-based Solopreneur: 4 tips for balancing business and kids

In just two weeks, I’ll have my third go as the “school’s out for summer insatiable solopreneur.” As all of you home-based entrepreneurs well know, working from home can be challenging. And it becomes an even more delicate balancing act when school lets out for the summer. You no longer have a school district-prescribed window of working opportunity set into every Monday through Friday. You can no longer count on uninterrupted periods of solitude for making important calls to clients, focusing on projects and keeping up on your blog posts.

I admit it – I get a little uneasy as this time of year rolls around. I love the idea of having my daughter home with me for 9 weeks, but the contradictory aspirations of growing my business and making summer an enjoyable experience for her add an extra serving of stress to the solopreneurial plate.

This year, I’m finding it a little easier though – in part, because I know what to expect, and in part, because I’m doing a better job of planning ahead. Maybe you’ve already got a summer system in place, but if you don’t, here are a few ideas for juggling it all without letting balls drop:

  • Decide what your summer work week is going to look like.
    Take inventory of meetings that you need to attend regularly, and also decide on the weekdays and times that you’ll reserve for holding ad hoc meetings with clients and vendors. Then, if your children aren’t quite old enough to be home alone during those times, you can line up – in advance – a grandparent, friend or childcare provider who will be available  to keep your kiddo safe and entertained while you’re out on business.Also take stock of how many hours you’ll need to devote to your business each day and how you’ll work that in while your children are home.  As a freelance writer, I’m fortunate in that I’m not tied to an 8 – 5 work day. I suspect many of you have a good bit of flexibility as well. Will you need to wake up an extra 2 hours early to focus on clients’ projects without interruption? Will you need to stay up 3 hours later to stay on top of your responsibilities? After you get your kids settled in with breakfast, can you crank out an hour of work while they watch The Disney Channel or play a game on the Wii? Although your routine will routinely stray off course (and you know that WILL happen) occasionally, having a master plan will give you and your family some sense of structure during what could otherwise be complete pandemonium.
  •  Add enrichment.
    Look and you will surely find a wide array of summer programs that can give your children the opportunity to try new activities or immerse themselves in the ones they love most. The bonus is that they can give you several hours to a full day’s worth of guilt-free time to devote to your business. We enroll our daughter in an all-day local theater camp – that’s 4 weeks of the 9-week summer when I know she’s having a blast, and I can settle into business as usual.
  • Find Friends.
    It depends on your child’s and her friends’ ages, but there’s a point in time when having an additional child at the house requires less attention than if your child is there by herself. “Play dates” (Note that my kiddo would cringe if she heard me calling them that!) are often productive time for me because my daughter and her friends don’t want me hanging with them while they play with their Monster High dolls. While they’re doing their thing, I take up residence in the home office, crank out some work and attend to them when they need me.
  •  Vacation in summer.
     Taking a week’s vacation during the no-school summer months leaves you with one less week of worrying about the kids/work balancing act. Pledge to do minimal – if any at all – work while you’re gone so you can dedicate your time away to your family. If getting away isn’t in the budget, plan a week’s “stay-cation” at home when you unplug from work and focus solely on having a great time with your loved ones.
Finding the right combination of activities that translates to a successful modified work schedule may take more than one summer season to master. As you figure it out, have patience! And remember, this time-sensitive dilemma is well worth the temporary inconvenience given the year-round flexibility we enjoy as solopreneurs.

What tips and tricks do you have for keeping your business running smoothly and your kids happy during no-school months?