A sanctuary is described as a place of refuge or safety, and at some point in our lives, everyone will create their own, either deliberately and with planning and preparation, or sometimes in a subconscious way without realizing it.
We all need some space to do activities that can only be done (or done well) while we are alone with our thoughts. And these activities do not have to be professional or work-related, in fact, many sanctuaries are created specifically for non-work-related activities such as meditation, yoga, reading or personal reflection.
For most people, their sanctuary is a quiet place where the likelihood of interruption is very low, where it is quiet and there is little chance of something taking over their attention.
But in fact, a sanctuary does not have to be like that at all. There are examples of passionate kite surfers and who spend a lot of their free time speeding across the water at a frightening rate of knots, bouncing off waves and jumping in the air. Some of them tell us they do their most profound thinking during these times, because even though it is an extreme sport that requires high levels of concentration, they are also in control of their environment – and nothing can (or will) burst their focus bubble.
But how does any of this relate to our professional environment?
In a perfect world, we would be allowed to work without distraction, which would lead to high levels of productivity and efficiency. But we know this is not the case – meaning we often must invent our own sanctuary at short notice and with a certain amount of flexibility.
To do this, we should consider the minimum requirements of this temporary sanctuary: a place to focus, neutral surroundings, controlled noise, etc.
Often this can easily be a public place like a coffee shop, because although there are a number of ambient sounds and a continuous flow of activity, so long as you don’t know anyone, you are unlikely to get disturbed (and even by adopting Airplane mode we create some tranquility) meaning work can get done, thoughts can be developed or our minds simply cleared for a moment.
The key to a good sanctuary is not always the dream location, rather, it is the fact it works, because that is from where the real joy of living in a distraction-free environment is built.