Let’s face it—work can suck. Whether you’re a slave to the nine to five (or seven... or eight) office life or you have the luxury of working in your PJs at home, there’s no denying that it’s not easy to be your most productive, motivated, and anxiety-free self all the time. But what you might not realize is how much the state of your desk or workspace can have on your mental state—and how a few simple tweaks can change everything.
Think about it: What if you could change, and improve, the way you function at work with just a bit of reorganizing and redecorating?
We turned to the experts—from color specialists to feng shui enthusiasts, to witches (of course!)—to get some insight on how to turn an overwhelmingly messy and distracting desk (or even just a bland and boring one) into a sacred, zen AF space that promotes only the most productive and chill vibes.
Get out your crystals, and get your creative juices flowing! Considering this a spiritual spring-cleaning (err, fall-cleaning) for your desk. Keep scrolling to find out how to make some desk-altering changes.
First, declutterFirst and foremost, you’ll need to declutter your current workspace before you can transform it into the productive palace you want it to be.
RD Chin, feng shui master, architect, and interior designer, first wants you to clear everything off of your desk—all of the papers, books, and other things piling up—and place them into a big file box. “Just the act of putting these items into piles will usually help one to organize those projects as they put the into the box. The end result is a clear desk, and a clear mind,” he says.
Not sure of what to keep on your desk? Begin by placing back anything to which you’ll need easy access, things you can’t store in a filing cabinet or desk drawer. But as for rest of your space? Dr. Athena Perrakis, gemology and aromatherapy expert and founder and CEO of Sage Goddess, wants you to keep the four elements in mind when it comes to redecorating and reorganizing. “Keep one item to represent fire, for courage and creativity, such as a fire-element gemstone; then choose one item to represent water, such as a vase with fresh flowers or an abalone shell. Next, choose one item to represent earth, to keep you grounded; and then last, choose an item to represent the element of air to keep energy flowing smoothly—feathers are perfect for this!”
Stock up on your crystalsIf you’re looking to turn your desk into a zen, sacred, and chill zone, you’re obviously going to need to stock up on crystals. But which crystals are right for the workspace?
Erica Feldmann, owner of Hauswitch in Salem, MA, gives us her input on the must-have crystals for the workspace. Her personal favorite is pyrite, which is meant to keep you on a path to reach your highest and best self. “It’s my manifesting go-to and it curbs my OCD tendencies.” Next up? Fluorite, to combat that inability to stay focused and promote clarity and resolve. To keep stressful feelings at bay, Feldmann turns to amethyst for its healing, relaxing, and energy protective properties.
She also suggests adding crystals for your throat chakra into the mix. “Clear communication is important in any work, no matter what your profession,” she says. For this, she recommends kyanite, which is perect for business dealings and voicing your truest and clearest intentions. If you’re in dire need of a creative boost (writer’s block, anyone?), she suggests carnelian, what she describes as “a passionate stone that can light your creative fire when you’re feeling a little drained.” Perrakis agrees, describing it as the gemstone form of caffeine. (We’ll take the biggest one you’ve got.)
Perrakis also has go-to crystals she loves: shungite, which she says can be used to filter our negative energy; citrine, which attracts prosperity; green aventurine, which is aid to bring luck with new opportunities; and aragonite, a stone that helps keep its bearer organized.
Jaan Ferree, an intentional interior designer, also recommends citrine, as well as obsidian, to absorb any lingering negativity. She notes that unlike many other crystals, you don't have to cleanse them after using them. Nice 'n' easy!
Be mindful of color and scent Work space feeling a little glum? Try reinvigorating it (and yourself) with color. Moll Anderson, lifestyle expert and author of Change Your Home, Change Your Life With Color, explains that color has a multi-sensory effect, benefitting people by enhancing moods, stimulating senses, and releasing happy memories. “Color evokes certain feelings and emotions and when you’re aware of the feelings that affect your color choices, you can change how you feel every day in the colors in your work environment—by incorporating the colors that speak to you most deeply,” she says.
To foster creativity, she recommends the use of purple: “Just a little spark of violet can be enough to channel creativity wherever you need it.” She describes yellow as essentially “sunshine bottled up as a color,” saying it promotes energy and happiness, instantly invigorating a room or a person. Soft pastels add a touch of whimsy and calm, while rejuvenating green can alleviate depression and bring in positive energy.
Blue, however, has multiple personalities. While Mediterranean-hued blues promote a more tranquil and serene feeling, bright or electric blue is known to energize the home, space, car, and people.
Now, we get it—you’re probably not going to ask your boss to repaint your entire office. And even if it’s an at-home office, not all of us have the time for that. That’s where Anderson suggests we get creative with our cubicles. “Tiny spaces call for clever touches—pick an invigorating yellow throw for your chair, or a red floating shelf because, if you only have a wall to work with, let’s make it a confident one. A vase with bright flowers is always a fun, simple, and easy way to add color and life to your space. Or try an elegant blotter or a bright and bold table lamp,” she says.
Scent is also an important factor. Never underestimate the power of essential oils when it comes to improving your mood. Perrakis suggests her favorite for the work space: lavender. “It’s universally loved and many people enjoy the scent. It has many healing properties, too: It’s both anti-bacterial and anti-microbial, and it also settles the mind, helps with focus, and eases stress,” she says. She also mentions geranium, lemon, and orange as good essential oils to promote concentration.
Another option? “Keep your mind focused on tasks at hand without mental interruption by keeping a little vetiver essential oil to sniff as you work,” recommends Feldmann.
Of course, when it comes to smells, not all of your co-workers will be super appreciative to have unwarranted essential oils pumping in their direction (even if they do smell nice). If that’s the case, keep a dropper bottle or roll-on version at your desk, and take a whiff whenever you need it most.
For a more in-depth guide to essential oils, click here.
Cleanse your space of negative energyWe all know that our workspaces can remind us of some not-so-positive moments (late nights, freak out moments, and anxiety attacks galore, am I right?). Sometimes, you just need to cleanse your space of any lingering bad vibes before you fully become your enlightened, productive best self. For this, smudge sticks are a great option.
Not able to burn things in your office? We get it. Feldman suggests opting for her Holy Smoke sage spray if you still need to clear the air. “Spray it around your desk to give yourself a clean slate,” she says.
Decorate from a feng shui perspectiveTo keep your work space extra zen, whether at the office or at home, try organizing and decorating it from a feng shui persepective.
Chin explains that when it comes to feng shui, different sides of your desk represent different areas of your life. When you look at your desk from a position of sitting at it, the far left corner is known as the “wealth” area. “I always recommend a vase of nine green stalks of bamboo, either nine inches or 18 inches in height, to channel prosperity,” he says. “The number nine in feng shui represents prosperity and longevity.” He also suggests placing what he calls a “wealth box” in this corner, such as a piggy bank or jar of coins, to help channel prosperous vibes.
What about the right? Chin describes that as the marriage, relationship, and love corner. He recommends placing a crystal (rose quartz for love or an amethyst for spiritual chi—or life force—energy), or a vase of colorful flowers with the intention of “welcoming good luck for your projects or presentations and fostering good relationships.”
Ferree recommends you adorn your desk or office with items that lift your chi. “Go for whimsical items that remind you to lighten up or smile, such as photos of loved ones or special items that are meaningful. Change them out from time to time to keep your area fresh,” she says. These, according to Chin’s philosophy, would probably be best placed in the far right corner of your desk.
Don't forget plants!Of course, never underestimate the good vibe-raising power of plants. Feldmann is all for them, “as long as you keep them alive and thriving.” (Well, it’s not always that easy). She points out that some of the easiest ones to care for are ZZ plants, air plants, and a variety of pothos.
Go ahead and get your green on.
Finally, set an intention for your workspaceNow that your desk is neatly organized and ready to amplify all of that productiveness you have building up, why not keep the good vibes flowing by setting an intention for your space?
Feldmann suggests setting the intention of keeping it clean every day. “You’re never going to want to sit at a work space that’s full of clutter,” she says. We’d have to agree. She recommends lighting a “work candle” that burns while you’re working—“It’s a way to set an intention for yourself with a more tangible, visual cue,” she says.
Along the same lines, Chin suggests doing a simple blessing for your work space after you declutter it and clear it of negative energies—something as simple as creating a moment of quiet time by putting away your phone and turning off any other distractions. “Close your eyes, breathe and relax, and sit in your space while you give gratitude and thanks for your ‘other’ home. Afterwards, you’ll feel at peace and refreshed, as well as productive in working in your newly zen office space.”