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A Procrastinator's Guide to Feng Shui

by Sandra Smith

From the first day I set up my home office, I could never keep it neat for more than a few hours at a time. I can't function in clutter -- it feels as though my mind is as messy as my desk. Because I'm self-employed, disorganization costs me time, money, guilt, and aggravation. Add procrastination and the recipe for disaster is complete.

I try to focus on my project list. My eyes shift from towers of computer manuals, to the overflowing wastebasket, to the weeks' worth of filing, and then out the window. A deadline is attempting to stare me down while I look the other way.

Then what do I do? I clean house, cook large batches of soup, research articles that may never be published this century, empty my to-do basket, check email every 20 minutes, and read everything I can get my hands on. You don't get procrastination points if you can't devise a sensible rationale for the activity.

I complained to my sons and they tried to straighten me out. They said I must Feng Shui the whole house. David said, "Mom, if your office had the proper ch'i, you wouldn't have any problem keeping it neat or scheduling your time." Huh?

The Art and Philosophy of Feng Shui
I always say before you are forced to take action, read a book first. I borrowed the book, "The Western Guide to Feng Shui Room by Room" by Terah Kathryn Collins. It opened my eyes to wondrous and creative procrastination possibilities: I must Feng Shui my house before I could work.

The first sentence of the book defines Feng Shui as "the study of how to arrange your environment to enhance the quality of your life." I learned a few pages later that my ch'i (vital energy) was definitely constricted. No wonder it was painful to concentrate.

I turned a few more pages and the phrase "Passive Chaos -- Creativity Lost in Clutter" caught my attention. "Creativity languishes on the cluttered desktop, in the chaotic kitchen, and on the junky back porch." When did Collins visit my house?

I next spotted a Bagua Map that charts what areas of my home are associated with which blessings. Knowledge and self-cultivation; career, helpful people and travel; creativity and children; center, earth; health and family, love and marriage; fame and reputation; and wealth and prosperity areas are defined.

I quickly drew a rough floor plan and overlaid the Bagua Map over it. To my horror, I discovered my wealth and prosperity corner was located in a back room. It contained everything I didn't know what to do with -- old furniture, out-of-season clothes, wrapping paper, and whatever. I could fix this. But first I had to clear the decks for the real work.

What did I do instead of work in my office? I organized 30 years worth of photographs; cleaned up visible clutter; straightened up my over-stacked bookshelves; and called friends and family to tell them what I was doing.

Next I tackled the back room. By the time I finished, I found an aquamarine ring and a garnet necklace and matching earrings. I had been looking for this jewelry for six months. I would swear on all that's holy that I searched the exact spot where I found them at least half a dozen times before. I cleaned, dusted, rearranged, and wrote the recommended affirmation: "With joy and gratitude, I welcome an abundance of positive people and experiences into my life, now and always. I am rich and prosperous in every way, and blessed with a constant and abundant flow of health, wealth, and happiness."

I sighed deeply and stopped for a few minutes.

I then walked from room to room, upstairs and downstairs, and reveled in my slightly aching muscles. My surroundings were tranquil and so was my head. I'm not sure how much of this is a placebo effect, I only know it worked. I spent the rest of the weekend balancing elements and yin and yang and analyzing color choices (read the book if you really want to know).

There is a Lesson Here, Oh Grasshopper
The following Monday I accomplished more work than I had during the previous two weeks. I organized my thoughts to match my surroundings. Every couple of hours, I stopped for a few minutes and put things away.

There's more work to do before I'm satisfied. It seems each individual room can be organized by Feng Shui principles. My office is next. It's difficult because of all the electronic equipment and space issues. For instance it's bad ch'i to sit with your back to a door. I would guess that many offices are set up that way.

I'm a writer so I believe in symbolism and metaphor. I think Feng Shui is a method of organizing by symbolism. It's also a lot of fun. And I learned, yet again, how strongly intention counts. I intend to become more creative and productive. I intend to attract new business. I intend to become better at focusing my energies so these intentions can be realized.

My friends were astonished that practical-minded me could be attracted to something as esoteric as Feng Shui. But in the final analysis I'm prepared to try most anything that will improve my attitude and life. I see Feng Shui is a tool to help me accomplish my unwritten goals. In the process I'm learning more about myself and how I work. The next step, kicking and screaming the whole way, will be to write those goals down.

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