Nurturing Rituals for Opening and Closing Your Work Space

teatime rituals

Rituals enhance your life.

Rituals support you by integrating what unites body, mind, and spirit into daily activities.

Unlike routines, rituals deepen your experience of your time, because they tap the energy of repetition and of mindfulness.

Here’s a simple ritual

Many years ago, I created rituals for entering and leaving my home office. They helped me focus and work at top efficiency.

My rituals combined simple practicality with an element of mindfulness that always deepens and expands the meaning of any activity, as you’ll see.

A sunroom filled with plants connects the kitchen to my office.  This space has always provided an important boundary between my home and my work.

Prior to starting my work day, I would place anything I knew I’d be needing to bring with me on the kitchen counter near the door. That way, I could quickly scoop things up as I stepped into the sunroom.

In the office…

Next, when I stepped into the office, I’d always place my armful of paper and supplies in the same place. This kind of routinization frees up lots of energy, as you always know where to find what you need. Then, whether with a client or working alone, I would always close the door to my office.

This action is so important because it confirms the full dedicating of my attention to the work at hand.

It’s a boundary.

Closing the office and the day…

Then, at the end of the day, I’d basically work in reverse. I always spend time sorting through what’s accumulated and file away what I can

I developed specific rituals and routines for leaving the office, as well.  They include:

  • Clearing my desk of everything except whatever I might need to begin the next day’s work.
  • Checking to make sure the doors are locked, the radio is off, the windows are closed and the heat or air conditioner is turned down.

These rituals signal for me a transition, marking movement from one place to the next. It helps me close up one space in my psyche and move towards opening a different one.

  • What are some rituals you have developed?
  • How would you like to expand on them as you go through your day?

Take time to notice and validate the ways this helps reduce stress and awaken your appreciation.

And for more help with boundaries…

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  1. Dear Paula,

    I read your post with great interest. Thank you!

    Your thoughts on preparing a list the night before the new day have been very helpful for me; this really has been keeping me on track. I also am starting to have a routine when I enter my workspace, either at home or in the office.

    However, I am having a very hard time finding a closing ritual. There is always “so much left to do”: “just this one last thing”; “I have to send this mail or I will forget.” This leads to me often leaving later than I had promised myself (and others) I would–which leads to conflicts with myself and others and just a general harried feeling.

    Have you encountered such issues? How have you overcome them? Could you perhaps take us through your closing ritual in more detail? (How much time could one devote to this closing ritual; how and when to start “winding down”….)

    With thanks,


    • Hi David, and thanks for sharing this challenge. It’s a big one for me as well. And yes, that ‘just one more thing’ thought can be a major stumbling block. I am going to ponder your question as I look ahead to future blog posts. But for now, here are a couple of thoughts:

      One thing that has helped me is to establish a stopping time and give myself compassionate (and powerful) permission to NOT finish. Indeed, we often must leave things unfinished, and taking that in helps me let go.

      In addition, in my closing ritual, I put thought and energy into establishing what I will OPEN when I return and where I will begin. This shifts my focus and allows me to let go with much more confidence.

      Finally, one of the first things I do is shut down my computer. Closing the door to this dynamic ‘presence’ also closes the door to a huge source of interruptions and distractions. It’s amazing how much peace this brings. My space is immediately ‘quieter’ and this helps me stay on track and focus on letting go.

      I hope this helps, and always appreciate your thoughts and comments.



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