feng shui for your desk

Fresh from the pages of my favorite magazine, Whole Living, I bring you “Feng Shui at Work” –

When you take control of your space, it creates positive energy for improving everything else. To feng shui your desk, start with a basic tool called the “bagua,” an energy map that divides any space into nine areas, each corresponding to a part of your life (wealth, career, creativity, etc.).

Ask yourself what one or two goals are most important to you, whether it’s improved health, success, or inspiration. Then rearrange your desk based on the area of the bagua that matches those goals.

For the map and suggestions, go to Wholeliving.com: Feng Shui at Work.

I’ve never tried feng shui, but I like the idea of good energy flow through your space. Learn more here, or click here if you want to confirm your skepticism.

For more on feng shui for your office, there are several great posts at Shui to Go!

backyard office

If you don’t have room in your house for an office, but you have a yard, why not build a separate structure for your office? I keep coming across pre-fab outdoor spaces on other blogs that would be perfect for a home office. Talk about keeping your work space separate from your personal space!

One thing to consider is the climate where you live. Something like this is much more practical in California than in Minnesota. I’m not sure how any of these are insulated and presumably you’d have to use a space heater. Also, I don’t think I’d want to be running back into the house every time I needed to use the bathroom if it’s below zero outside!

Source: OfficePOD; via Chuck Newton and Unplgged

From the OfficePOD website: “The ability to work from home is a trend that is here to stay. Technology allows it, legislation permits it and employers often now encourage it.” Though this is in the UK, so I’m not sure what “legislation” they’re talking about.

Source: Archipod; via Re-Nest

  • Or try converting a shed into an office like Lifehacker reader Brian DeHamer did for just $6,000.

Source: Lifehacker

  • How about a shipping container home office?

Source: Mike Corvi, The Oregonian via Chuck Newton

Source: Jetson Green via Chuck Newton

  • Though not pre-fab, this home office is pretty fab. Lifehacker reader Peter Frazier takes full advantage of his view of Chuckanut Bay in Washington.

Source: Lifehacker

Source: Flickr via Lifehacker

  • This is surprisingly nice for a 9×7 wooden shed. Not available in the US, but probably closer to something you could DIY than some of the others.

Source: BillyOh Woodman Log Cabin via ReNest (and also here)

  • A similar concept (but a little more spacious), this one belongs to Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Source: Michael Pollan via ReNest (and also here)

  • Another one with a great view — and love the colorful trim.

Source: photography by William Wright, in Debra Prinzing’s book Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways

via Apartment Therapy San Francisco (via ReNest)

  • Looking for something simple but cozy?

Source: Sunset via ReNest

Source: Susan Herr via Design*Sponge

For more permanence, see my earlier post on this garden office.

And a few more less realistic (expensive or unique) but equally thought-provoking options: Blu Folding Prefab Home Office and Would You Live in a Blob? Or there’s always a treehouse.

getting enough sleep

I’m kicking off my Life Rules list with something very important to me: getting enough sleep. It seems only fitting to write this after being knocked out with a cold/flu/plague for a week, but sometimes when we are forced to rest, it helps us remember how important is is.

Some people take the attitude “I can sleep when I’m dead.” This is actually very appealing to me. Sort of a “Suck it, mother nature! I defy biology!” I’d love to have that attitude.

Too bad you can’t overcome the need to sleep with willpower! Believe me, I’ve tried. I’m a night owl by nature so staying up late (seemingly by choice) then having to get up early (seemingly not by choice) and suffering years of sleep deprivation… After about 28 years I decided that it’s just not worth fighting. But I still felt guilty, like I was missing out on life by not being awake as much as possible. Recently, I’ve been working on reducing this guilt. One big step has been realizing I’m not alone in acknowledging that more sleep is a key to life. I first saw this life rule on one of my oft-mentioned favorite blogs (and now book), The Happiness Project. In fact, getting enough sleep is one thing Ms. Rubin calls it a fundamental secret to happiness.

Going to bed early is another part of this rule because going to bed late for me, ipso facto, means not getting enough sleep. Or feeling guilty about catching a few extra winks in the morning. As much as I like sleeping in, it throws off my day, and I think that is almost worse than being sleepy.

On top of all this, I’m personally convinced that I need more sleep than other people do. No, really. Just ask anyone who has ever lived with me. Now my ears always perk up when I hear about any research related to sleep or how sleep deprived we are as a country, and I’ve devoured articles about sleep research since I was a teenager. I’ve always had a tough time waking up, and I still do any time (even after a nap), but it’s especially tough on less than 6 hours for me. I’m not talking “I’m cranky if I get less than 6 hours,” more like “I stand a serious chance of not even hearing my alarm go off.” Regardless of the time of day, how much sleep I had the night before, etc. I’ve tried all the tricks, and plenty of people giving me a hard time about it, and feeling guilty and “lazy” when I’m exhausted.  The only thing that really works is getting more sleep.

Things that help me:

  1. Setting a regular bedtime (or a goal. it’s good to have goals.)
  2. Get ready for bed early (avoid falling asleep on the couch with laptop)
  3. Make sure I have all papers and things ready to go if I’m leaving the house in the morning.
  4. Decide what I’m wearing tomorrow.
  5. Put away discarded clothes or laundry from today.
  6. Make a list of things to do tomorrow if need to fight the urge to stay up and take care of stuff. Better yet, make a schedule with tasks to accomplish before lunch. Everyone has different sleep demons, and for me, staying up late at night has always been the “extra” time I need in a day to finish a task or to relax. If I convince myself that going to bed early means a more productive morning, I can usually coax myself into bed earlier.
  7. Get in bed early to read a magazine; It feels productive and I’m more likely to actually fall asleep when my body says it’s time if I’m already in bed.
  8. Stop whatever I’m doing an hour before I want to go to bed and have “me” time. This can be productive time in a sense (catching up on emails with friends, or doing #3-7), but it shouldn’t be work or cleaning. If I don’t do this, I will inevitably stay up later. The cycle needs to stop sometime.

Why is this important for WorkingSmall? Successful people are prone to putting things like sleep at the bottom of the importance list. The more self-regulated we are, especially for those of us who are self-employed, I think it helps to acknowledge our baselines and figure out how being healthy keeps us happy and moving forward with our lives and careers.

Want more?