How to Create Your Power Office

Published: Jan 24, 2019
Modified: Mar 25, 2020

By Tamara Myles

How do you feel in your office? You should feel powerful. What does power mean to you in relation to your office or work environment?

Through the years, some of the people I’ve worked with have defined power as being in control. Others say it’s being in command of knowing where and how to access everything easily and quickly, and being able to focus on the task at hand. Still others say it’s about feeling respected, whether in person or on the phone, by both your peers and customers. Power can also mean you inspire your employees and others to have confidence in you.

What’s the value of setting up a power office? Maybe it’s being able to walk into your office and start being productive within a couple of minutes or less. Maybe you want to feel more relaxed in your office. Whatever your reason is, it’s important that you identify it before you start making changes.

You want to feel inspired, productive, and powerful in your office. There are five primary characteristics for achieving an office space that allows you to operate from a position of power:

Here are the basics for the power office:

  1. Create organized and defined work areas. We know that having piles of papers covering a desk can have a negative impact on your career. Studies show that bosses are less likely to promote someone who has a disorganized or messy workspace. Statistics also indicate that if you have disorganized work areas, you may not have that feeling of power that comes from being respected, inspiring confidence, and simply being able to find things.

    The removal of clutter enhances your ability to focus. Think about a pile of papers that is currently sitting on your workspace. How does it make you feel? Chances are that the clutter represents a symbolic clue about where you’re stuck in your career. Removing the clutter from your space will invite new opportunities. Once you start making changes to your environment, you will start to feel more empowered, which will impact other facets of your career. An organized office with uncluttered surfaces enhances creativity and discipline and enables you to make decisions.

    Think about creating different zones for the different activities that you do in your office. The desk is your zone for working on your laptop and current projects, sorting mail, filing, and making phone calls. You’ll want to have a filing system and paper shredder close to where you handle your incoming mail and other papers. If you spend time on research, staying current in your field, or reviewing proposals, you might want a separate, more comfortable area for your reading activities. You could cluster a few chairs with a little table for meetings that happen in your office.

    Pay attention to the different activities that occur in your typical day or week. Determine what supplies, implements, and furniture you will need at hand to conduct them, with everything organized in those specific areas. Only include those items you need to support your current activities, and have them readily available. This one strategy will encourage you to focus on your current activities without distractions.

  2. Streamline processes and systems. Well-defined job descriptions, policies, and procedures, and operation manuals for essential functions, such as sales and human resources (HR), are familiar to those of you who work in bigger companies. However, some smaller businesses that are growing and expanding and hiring new employees may not have created these processes. Small companies grow and at first don’t need these specifications. Everyone knows what everyone else does. They pitch in to do what’s needed. They have never even thought of having job descriptions, HR policies, or other procedures. It is easiest to start developing these procedures from the very beginning, of course, but once a company reaches a size where the lack of procedures creates inefficiencies, it’s critical. Even for larger companies, as your business grows and expands, how will your systems accommodate that growth and change? When you hire new employees, you want to think about how your processes and systems will be used by them and streamline your processes for everyone.

    You also want to think about delegation. You want to have systems in place that make delegation easier, because you have to think about where you can use your time most effectively. Delegation gives you the best return on your time investment and is also great for training and empowering your employees.

    Having these systems in place makes the routine process of running and operating within a company more efficient.

  3. Plan and align tasks and activities. You shouldn’t need to spend much time each day deciding what your objectives are and what tasks and activities you will work on. You also want to minimize working on things that do not contribute to achieving your goals. You want to be certain that you are being as effective as possible in what you do. Being able to do that starts with strategic planning, but a strategic plan will not tell you what to work on each day. You need to break those goals into tasks and activities. You need to have a list of everything you think you need to do. Just like physical clutter and electronic clutter, you can have brain clutter; so many thoughts swirling around in your head with no order or structure. Nearly every productivity system will tell you to do a brain dump—get every action item out of your head and recorded somewhere else. Then follow the three Ps of time management: plan, prioritize, and perform. That will help you make your to-do list and schedule activities in your calendar.

  4. Operate from the power position. Feng shui is a Chinese-based practice of arranging things to create a positive flow of energy. Not everybody believes in this energy flow idea, but I encourage you to use the tips because the principles of feng shui and productivity have a great deal of overlap. For example, feng shui believes that clutter creates stagnant energy and blocks energy flow. Professional organizers believe in decluttering to increase productivity and reduce stress. While I’m not a feng shui expert, I have learned from workshops, searching the web, and reading books that feng shui will help you set up your office in a way that inspires greater productivity and confidence.

    • Situate your desk in the power position. The position of your desk is one of the most important adjustments you can make to your office. The command position is located diagonally across from and facing the door or room opening. You also want it situated so that your chair back is against wall space rather than a window or other opening. Ideally, you want a clear path of vision from the door to your desk, as this establishes an even greater sense of authority. This position is also considered the lucky corridor of any room, so you definitely want to have your desk there.
    • Sit behind a power desk in a power chair. Your desk should be of solid construction with a lot of surface area and easy access to drawers for your files and supplies. A power chair has a high back and armrests. Ideally, the high back would be solid construction, but it doesn’t have to be. Also, if you can’t position your desk so that the chair back isn’t against a window, a high back chair is enough.
  5. Surround yourself with a future vision. Everything in your power office should inspire you and serve as a reminder of your goals and your vision and keep you motivated. Include reminders of things that inspire you and are aligned with your career aspirations. This one simple tactic can help you focus on your future goals, rather than your past accomplishments.

Time is the greatest nonrenewable resource we have. We can always make more money and work more days, but we can never get time back once we’ve wasted it. It’s important to make the right choices in order to achieve success, to use our time effectively and efficiently. Apply what you’ve learned and set up your power office so that when you walk in, you can be productive, energized, and feel powerful in your space.

Excerpted and adapted, with permission, from The Secret to Peak Productivity: A Simple Guide to Reaching Your Personal Best by Tamara Myles. Copyright 2014. Published by AMACOM.

Excerpted and adapted, with permission, from The Secret to Peak Productivity: A Simple Guide to Reaching Your Personal Best by Tamara Myles. Copyright 2014. Published by AMACOM.

These AMA seminars will help you build a position of power: 
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® 
The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity™ 

About the Author(s)

Tamara Myles is a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO®) and productivity consultant for individuals and corporate clients. She is author of The Secret to Peak Productivity: A Simple Guide to Reaching Your Personal Best (AMACOM 2014), from which this article was adapted.