I have file folders everywhere, piled on my desk, stacked on my shelves, filling up my bookcases and plopped into incline sorters that I've nailed to the wall beside me for easy access. Hundreds upon hundreds of file folders. I know the contents and location of each one.

It's a great system.

Except that I've spent the past week moving nearly every single folder, because I may have been unwittingly holding myself back from higher levels of energy, productivity and profits.

Look around your office and ask this question:

Do the items in my space represent where I want to go with my business, or do they represent where I've been?

This is the question responsible for all of my file re-homing, and it springs from a deep dive into the study of feng shui, the ancient Chinese art of re-vamping your space to maximize the flow of positive energy.

Before your mind goes to magical fountains and dragon statues, consider this: Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Richard Branson, as well as companies like Coca-Cola, Nike and Intel have all used feng shui in their office spaces for greater productivity, happiness and success.

Feng shui has been a natural course of study given my mindfulness practice, as both disciplines ask you to slow down and pay close attention to how your mind and body feel in the present moment. Both practices also encourage you to notice the impact of your surroundings.

And while many of the mainstream messages about feng shui center around furniture placement and positioning, I am especially intrigued by the notion of whether my surroundings reflect where I see my business headed, rather than the rear-view mirror energy of where my business has been.

Notice what's close by, and what's out of reach.

Which brings me back to my filing system. 

Feng shui is all about symbolism, and I began to realize that the files closest to me contained documents from my coaching and consulting business: Old matters, paid invoices, past clients, workshop content, course descriptions and completed projects.

Those were the files I could see and reach from my desk. I'd been keeping them close by out of habit, because I'd worked with them for so many years.

But I'm in the process of transitioning from a consulting-based business to a writing-based one. No wonder I'd been feeling a bit stuck. My writing files were across the room.

Energetically, I was surrounding myself with easy access to the old, while keeping the new out of reach.

Hence the file switcheroo. All my writing folders are now within easy reach, and my consulting files are tucked away on the other side of the room.

I've even left a few incline sorter slots deliberately empty, inviting space for new writing projects that resonate with who I am at this new stage.

Once I began asking whether my surroundings reflected where my business has been, versus where I want it to go, I began noticing other stagnant signs: Bulletin boards with old projects still tacked up, leaning against the wall; a calendar which, embarrassingly, was still on the month of April. I hadn't gotten around to changing it.

When I flipped the calendar ahead to May, I felt a palpable sense of moving forward and releasing old stuck energy.

Not all pieces of the past have to go.

So I invite you to look around your office and ask the same question of each item: "Does this represent where I want to go with my business, or where I've been?"

Of course, some objects that represent the past are positive. I keep old awards, my son's artwork, and photos of my grandmothers. Rather than hold me back, those objects inspire me moving forward.

By consciously taking stock of the objects in your workspace, you'll learn what might be subconsciously holding you back from higher levels of productivity.

And by making deliberate decisions about what to keep, what to move, what to let go of and what to bring in, you'll surround yourself with symbols of forward movement, and set yourself up for success.

Published on: May 30, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.