The recipe for focus in crowded places.

How well can you focus on the task at hand in your open space? Surrounded by the buzzing sound of voices, phone calls, printers and perhaps even music? I found the answer thanks to Daniel Goleman, numbers and a crowded place on January 1st. 

On my layover in Montreal, I decided that working on my budget spreadsheets would be far more enjoyable from a downtown coffeeshop than from the airport. Plus, the oh so refreshing Canadian breeze would keep me awake on my 24h-long journey back to Zurich. As I sat at a big table where couples and families around me were gathering for the first brunch of the year, I was filling in the numbers with such accuracy and focus like never before. As young parents left the place, they asked me puzzled if I could work here in the middle of the cheerful chaos. And then I first realised how true their interrogation was. Babies were giggling, people were laughing, bartenders were shouting the orders out loud and the music was playing above all this - as rhythmic and dissonant as jazzy latino music can be.

I found the explanation for my productive afternoon a few hours later in Daniel Goleman’s book called… well, Focus. He defines this sort of focus that sustains any exterior condition as "selective attention, the neural capacity to beam in on just one target while ignoring a staggering sea of incoming stimuli.” Because this place was so overloaded with potential "sensory distractors" (like sounds, smells, colours, movements or temperature) my concentration had to be much deeper in order to allow me to do anything. So partly thanks to the buzzy environment itself, my brain was able to zone into a tunnel of continuous, unshakeable focus.

Depending on the circumstances, our predispositions and own capacities, selective attention is more or less accessible to us. Thankfully, we can work on this and use numbers of tips to improve our readiness to focus on demand. Balancing exercises are some of them and as we demonstrate in our REAL LIFE YOGA sessions, you can do them directly in your office. We will keep sharing more insightful facts and scientifically proven data in our blog posts. Also, do get a hold of Goleman's book, it is worth focusing on!


This is article #2 of our 100-blog-post series. To keep in touch, receive our tips, videos and insights, sign up for our Newsletter and follow us on Youtube & LinkedIn

Source: Focus. The Hidden Driver of Excellence from Daniel Goleman. He is also bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ and advisor for Search Inside Yourself, the Google course on mindfulness and emotional intelligence.

Picture @ Unsplash Rod Long.