Psychological Super Powers: 3 Steps to Focus Like an Expert

Are you struggling to write that academic manuscript, get it published, finish your dissertation, and you just feel like you need to focus? You're not alone and today we're going to talk about three tips to help you focus like an expert.

My name is Caitlin Faas and I'm a psychology professor and coach, whose expertise has been built in child and adolescent development and earning that Ph.D. But now I'm building expertise in becoming a really great coach and helping busy professionals be their best selves on their academic path. I'll give you examples from both, as we talk about these three steps.

The first step to focusing like an expert, you're not going to want to hear this, but it's all about putting in the hours.

Cal Newport talks about this, with Deep Work, and Malcolm Gladwell talks about this with 10,000 hours, but the idea is to really focus and practice deliberately so that you can gain expertise.

My example is that when I was learning statistics, I spent hours in front of my computer, searching discussion forums, I would ask other people that I knew who were experts, I checked out it seemed like every book from the library about statistics and structural equation modeling (SEM). And so I spent the hours and it wasn't glamorous, it was really tedious, but now it has a big payoff when people ask me, "How do you know about statistics?" or, "How are you able to just think of that phrase or think of that answer?"" I can say, "I put in the hours."

The second step to focusing like an expert is to say no to distractions in an active and passionate way.

One of the keys to this is to make sure that you have a clear vision for the future and the thing you want to accomplish. Completing your Ph.D. or writing that manuscript, you have this vision that you want to accomplish it and it feels clear. Then everything else that doesn't relate to that needs to be something that you say no to. It could be tempting to write that grant proposal or write a different paper that isn't keeping you focused on your current paper that you want to publish.

For me, actually taking the statistics example that I used before, if I kept learning statistics and just continued to go to classes and workshops, that would actually be a distraction from what I'm trying to do now, which is share the knowledge that I have about statistics with people like you.

Because my goal is teaching, sharing knowledge, and being a speaker, that's where I need to keep my focus. It seems like a really easy distraction to just keep learning. And so sometimes you can say, "Oh, yeah. Netflix is a distraction for me." Well, right, that is something that you could say no to maybe more easily, like you know you should say no to Netflix.

But look for the distractions like learning more information, that's actually something you also need to say no to right now so that you can be an expert for the vision that you have.

The third step we want to recommend for focusing like an expert is to actually delegate your weaknesses.

You don't have to be an expert in everything, you want to be an expert in a few things and to focus on that. Something that I delegate is my website design and the graphics that are created for my website. It's not something I'm interested in learning how to do and the people I have that work on my team are excellent at it. I'm happy to support them in their business endeavors. That's something that I delegate, but it's something that I get a lot of compliments about and I always make sure I say, "Oh, that's not something that I did myself. I hired people to do that." By doing something like delegating a weakness, I'm still able to build something that's part of my vision and my platform for speaking and teaching and coaching and consulting.

In conclusion, you don't have to be an expert to act like an expert, for whatever vision you have for your future.

If you need help working on these steps, we have a worksheet that will help guide you on how am I going to focus on these three steps and work towards my vision. So be sure to download that and reach out and tell us what you're working on.