Warfighters especially need the ability to make quick and accurate judgments without having to think about them deliberately. You can hone this skill using techniques employed by top athletes: They use routines to help shift their attention—away from stressful anticipation of how things are going to turn out—to focus instead on what’s most important in the moment. In other words, routines can help reduce anxiety and improve focus.

While routines can improve your performance, it’s also important to be flexible. Overly rigid routines can morph a helpful tool into a superstitious or obsessive ritual. Flexibility and adaptation are crucial parts of even the most finely honed routines. With service members, for whom crises are part of the job, the best teams are able to go “off-script” when needed in order to work together most effectively.

HPRC has strategies to help you focus your attention, so that it goes to the right place at the right time. By honing these approaches, you’ll find that your habits become so well formed that you’re able to focus, guide your actions, and be more aware of your environment. And you’re able to do even more: You can “get out of your own head” so you can make decisions and avoid “paralysis by analysis.” Read HPRC’s “Develop routines to optimize attention” to learn details.

Written by Tim Herzog, and first published on September 27, 2016 by the Human Performance Resource Center.