Secret Service agents that cover and protect the President of the United States as he travels have to be able to concentrate perfectly. In just one lapse of judgement, one moment of looking away, something tragic could happen. Agents are trained to detect situations that are dangerous or life-threatening to the President. They scan audiences looking for anything that interrupts the flow of their scan. If they spot minute gaps in rings of security that are formed around the president they immediately reposition to fill those gaps. For all Secret Service agents there is only one mission— ensure the security of the President. Because they constantly concentrate on that mission, they succeed.
Is there an area of your life where you concentrate with the intensity of a Secret Service agent? That means, you know your mission and when you are working in that area, it is your sole focus with no distractions. Given those parameters, there are probably not many people who can answer yes to that question. And there is evidence to back up that claim! In 2000 and again in 2015, Microsoft conducted a study measuring how long people can focus on one thing for a specific amount of time. The results showed the average person’s attention span to be 12 seconds. 15 years later, it dropped to eight seconds. With the popularity of today’s social media platforms like SnapChat, TikTok and Instagram’s Reels, surely it’s even lower than that now.
In 2021 our lives are full of distractions, so it is imperative that we develop and enhance the ability to keep our concentration in the most important areas of our lives– areas that will provide us the most benefit. Part of concentrating on the right thing is knowing what the right thing is. As you create a vision or goals in your life, exactly where you should concentrate your time and effort will become obvious. Once you have identified the most beneficial areas that need your concentration, use the following five tools to train your mind to do it:
- Focus on one thing at a time. Place your mind on whatever you’re doing in the present moment.. If you don’t feel motivated to do a particular task, look for some meaningful aspect or motivate yourself with the desire to complete it in less time.
- Abandon distracting thoughts. Your mind will wander. Remain aware of your thoughts. When you notice a distracting thought, decline to pursue it. Return your attention to your chosen object. Repeat this as often as necessary. With practice, it will get easier.
- Minimize external distractions. Your restless mind is probably the greatest distraction, but a controlled environment can help too. Turn off your phone and wait until later to check your email. Clear off your desk. If you can’t find a quiet spot, consider using white noise recordings, instrumental music, or earplugs.
- Plan regular breaks. Taking breaks can improve your performance. Do some seated stretches, walk around the block. Reward yourself with an activity you enjoy after completing a difficult project. Just standing up from time to time is refreshing because it helps your brain get more oxygen.
- Avoid overloading your schedule. Budgeting your time realistically can make it easier to concentrate. You’ll be less likely to get distracted by worries about getting everything done. If you’re chronically overloaded, your concentration will suffer.
Your ability to concentrate will improve with practice. Knowing in what areas of your life to dedicate your total concentration, you will find the success of a Secret Service Agent. Your dedication to concentration will help you decide what could put you in danger of failing your mission. You will be able to spot anything that could potentially knock you off track and you’ll vehemently reject it. You will defend your goals with the commitment of your life. You will concentrate perfectly, enjoying greater productivity as you execute your action plan to realize your vision.