Though it may seem counterintuitive, carving out free time when you have a busy schedule can actually help you meet your responsibilities more efficiently

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: I have a big problem. I have so much to do and seemingly not enough time to do it all for a big deadline I have. What can I do to help myself stay grounded and out of overwhelm? This is the biggest undertaking of my life, and I need simple yet effective feng shui tips for my home and my life!

Surprise! The question of the week is from me! I asked myself this very question on March 25, 2013, just a little over five months ago, when I had the vision to open a new business in Honolulu. It was important for me to set up my environment and reset my focus to best support this new path.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with all you have to do, you may find value in the strategy I used over the past five months to get energetically ready for the opening of my new school, Happiness U.

Remember the value of “yin” energy


Yin is “inward/private/inactive” energy and yang is “outward/public/active” energy, which, together, create balance. As I believe balance is the key to everything in my life, I knew I had to make sure I had more yin moments than ever before. Even though my tendency is to be “on the go” 100 percent of the time (yang), I knew I would actually get more done if I made a commitment to balance myself with yin moments.

With this in mind, I made sure to get to sleep at my normal time, to do things that I enjoyed, and not to skip my meditation time in favor of answering emails, doing research or creating curriculum for the school. I even went on two vacations and spent a few days doing nothing related to the business. If you use your down time constructively, you are likely to accomplish more.

Decrease “doing” and increase “being”

Most of you are probably thinking, “I’m busy. I have things to get done. If I don’t do something, I will be behind.” I know it’s hard not to think this way, but when you incorporate yin-type energy/activity, then return to what you want to do, you will actually be more productive.


Sharpen your saw

In Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he says if you want to be productive you have to stop to “sharpen your saw” once in a while. In other words, staying busy without a break can cause you to be less efficient.

The Yang energy of today

We live in a world of yang energy — moving, acting, doing, going, expressing, achieving — and I see many people operate on overdrive, living in a state of overwhelm. If you have a big project coming up or just feel overwhelmed by all you have on your plate, incorporate some of these simple yin tips and see how they help.


• Eat cool things. Yang energy is fiery and hot. Yin energy is watery and cool. When in a state of overwhelm, counter the prevalent yang energy by having a cold soba salad, a chilled yogurt parfait, cool summer rolls or a smoothie.

• Do something unplanned. Yang energy is about control. Yin energy is about being free and spontaneous. When in overwhelm, make a conscious choice to take off and do something that you wouldn’t normally do. It doesn’t have to be for a long time; it just has to be different. Go to a new restaurant, order a different drink, or walk or drive a new route to your errand. If you do something completely spontaneous, you will give yourself a break and add balance and productivity to your day.

• Clear the surface of your desk. Yang energy is full. Yin energy is less. When you feel that you have so much to do and are wondering how you will get it all done, clear your desk by putting away the mess and reducing visual clutter. You will be amazed at how refreshed you will feel. I do this all the time.

• Lighten your schedule. Yang energy is busy. Yin energy is sparse. Look at your calendar for the next week and clear a block of time by rescheduling or letting go of appointments that you have no time to attend to. Creating future freedom in your schedule will help you.

Less is more

Some of what I have shared above might seem too simple, but I can tell you from personal experience that by adding yin energy to a yang day you can make things go from “effort-full” to effortless in no time at all!



My new school, Happiness U, is opening its doors today and tomorrow from noon to 6 p.m. Stop by for tea and free talks on happiness, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., and pick up information on classes such as clutter clearing, feng shui, life purpose, positive mindset and more. Visit

Alice Inoue is the founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happiness U, an educational establishment, offering dozens of classes such as Feng Shui 101, Clutter Clearing 101, Positive Mindset 101, Happiness 101, Life Purpose 101, How to say No 101 and more. Opening in September of 2013, at the Gentry Pacific Center on Nimitz Highway, Happiness U is where one can learn things about how to be happy in life. Visit