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Why Slowing Down Makes You an Expert Faster

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Why Slowing Down Makes You an Expert Faster


    What is the similarity between Tony Robbins (motivational speaker), David Allen (productivity guru), Darren Rowse (professional blogger), Jamie Oliver (television cook) and Jillian Michaels (well-known fitness trainer)?

    They are all very successful in what they do – and they are also top experts in their own field.

    How did they reach this status?

    Did they just read a book on a topic and decide that they automatically go-to experts in their own field? Or did they one day just announce to the public that they are gurus?

    No…they didn’t.

    What about you then: Do you wish to be an expert? Do you think that you can start a blog, write a couple of “6 tips” articles and announce that you are an expert? Can you reach an expert status overnight – by doing something haphazardly and hoping that someone will notice you?

    If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are on the wrong track. In fact, you will never reach that recognized “go-to person” status in your field if you keep this mentality.

    Goodbye book signing tours and goodbye TV appearances; you will be left in the dust of mediocrity with other wannabe experts.

    The missing elements of expertise

    For some reason, many people want to reach to expert status overnight. They are not willing to work their asses off to reach that “go-to person” status. Rather, they want to take shortcuts; they want everything faster and easier.

    Another major issue on their path to being an expert is the lack of focus. They hustle around and they think that they have to specialize in every possible aspect of their field. Otherwise they feel they are going to be left on a level of mediocrity.

    Even if they start to focus on one area only, quite soon they move back to their original patterns – being generalists rather than specialists.

    Just shut up…and do the work.

    I’m willing to say that if your mindset is right, then reaching expert status someday is going to happen.

    When your mindset is right, you understand that you are committing to a long-term project. This is not a sprint — it’s not even a marathon. No…it is going to be a 100-mile run.

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    With the right mindset, you have to also have the courage to stay on your path with solid focus. This helps you to gain valuable experience over time.

    Finally, you also understand that you cannot set any deadlines as to when you will become an expert. It will happen eventually – with enough time and experience.

    What is required to become an expert?

    So how do you become an expert then? What is required if you want to reach the “go-to person” status in your field?

    The short answer is: Time. And lots of it.

    I’m not just talking about spending “X” amount of years of doing everything possible and then burning yourself out. Instead, I’m talking about taking slow, consistent, fearless and focused action.

    Now you may be asking: “What does slow, consistent, focused and fearless action mean?”

    It means that instead of trying to do everything in your field, you slow down and start focusing on a certain subset of the expertise; you take consistent action on things others are not willing to do.

    To break down the components in the previous sentence, consider these points:

    1. Slow: This is a long process, so learn your theories well. Then apply those theories to real life scenarios and test them out. Add your own personal tweaks to the mix. Create your own systems and theories – don’t just take everything for granted. Let the material to sink in well into your head. You are going to study a lot: reading books, watching videos, listening to live lectures or teaching others. There is no reason to rush – just take your time. This is a 100 mile run and not a marathon, remember?
    2. Consistent: Build your expertise on a daily basis. If you are able to do this, over time you will learn a great deal about your industry and your specialty within that field. Consistency keeps the momentum alive.
    3. Focused: Don’t try to master each and every area of your field. Instead, be superior in one particular area. For example, if you want to become an expert in Internet marketing, knowing everything about PPC, affiliate marketing, article marketing, building niche sites or building an e-mail list is not reasonable. Instead, pick one area and become a recognized expert in that particular topic.
    4. Fearless: Do what others are not yet doing or are afraid of doing. For example, if everyone else in your field is running text-based blogs, you can start creating videos or podcasts. If the rest of the community is afraid to do public speaking, step on the stage and start sharing your knowledge with others. Many times if we take bold action on things that we feel uncomfortable with, the rewards are going to be bigger than if we had just stayed inside our comfort zones.
    5. Action = This one is pretty self explanatory, but is still worth mentioning. Instead of just studying about your topic, it is also important to test and implement what you have learned. Test your knowledge by answering questions (on podcasts, videos, question/answer sites, etc.) or by teaching others (seminars, workshops, community colleges, etc.). Implement by turning a theory into practice – then report your findings to the world in the form of a blog post, case study or a free report. It’s the action that counts. That is the only way to create new experiences and ideas which could be once again be tested and implemented even further.

    Now that you know what it takes to become an expert, my questions to you are:

    • “Are you still willing to become an expert? Or do you see this as too tedious and too long of the path to take?”
    • “Are you willing to slow down, put 100% focus on a specific area of your field, and realize that this is going to be a long journey?”.
    • “Is becoming an expert overnight just unrealistic?”

    If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, you are on the right path.

    It’s time to roll up your sleeves.

    Although the path to becoming an expert may be long, use these steps to move towards to your goals:

    1. Find your speciality.

    The first thing to do is to find the overall area you are passionate about.

    Is it cars, is it model airplanes, is it internet marketing or is it personal development? Only you know an answer to that.

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    For example, when I looked at my bookshelf it was evident that I had plenty of books related to time management. That’s what I was (and I still am) passionate about. Later on that topic was narrowed further, and now my focus area is time management for work-at-home dads.

    The reason why I decided to focus on that specific area was because I’m a father myself and I’m passionate about time management. Since those two topics coincide with each other, it was natural for me to focus on that particular area of time management.

    If you are still unable to figure out what your strengths are, you can take a DISC test to find that out. I took the Anthony Robbins DISC test and it literally changed my life. The results were very accurate and it showed me what areas I should be focusing on (and yes, time management was one of them).

    Action Steps:

    • Take a DISC test (Note: Although you are going to be registered to Anthony Robbins e-mail list, this test actually showed my strengths and I’m very grateful for that. In that sense, giving my e-mail address was a secondary thing.)
    • Brainstorm ideas: What are you passionate about? What do you love to learn about? Doing some brainstorming will help you to put your ideas and thoughts into a visual format on the paper

    2. Start a blog

    One of the great ways to build your expert status is to start a blog.

    There are many online courses out there that teach your blogging. What I recommend is that you find a teacher who has a proven track record of running a successful blog (Corbett Barr, Darren Rowse or Derek Halpern are the ones to name a few) and follow his/her teachings.

    Blogging is a great way to teach others about your subject, gain more expertise and grow your audience. Also, creating a blog may lead to other major milestones on your way to becoming a “go-to person”, like book deals or even TV appearances.

    When you start a blog, you don’t necessarily need to publish new content on a daily basis. In fact, there are many successful bloggers, who have a slower publishing schedule, and yet their blogs are very successful and they have a massive following.

    Instead of publishing mediocre stuff on a daily basis, focus on the quality content instead. In fact, every time you publish a post, let it be epic shit instead!

    Action Steps:

    • Join a blogging course
    • Focus on quality, not quantity on your blogging

    3. Study every day

    You need to keep your skills up-to-date, and also you have to learn new stuff on a daily basis.

    To learn new stuff, read books related to your topic, watch videos or listen to podcasts.

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    It is also worth remembering that studying other material (not just related to your industry/area) is a great way to feed your creativity. All of a sudden you may come up with ideas and topics which could be explored further.

    Action Steps:

    • Dedicate a time block for studying – for example 30 minutes to 1 hour every day. This can be reading, watching or listening.
    • Find the 5 biggest blogs regarding your niche and subscribe to their RSS feeds. Learn what topics they cover and participate to the discussions
    • Install iTunes client and look for podcasts in your field
    • Don’t just focus on the literature of your field – read other materials as well

    4. Write every day

    Not only should you study every day, but you should also write daily too. Writing is also a great way to learn more about the topic.

    For example, when you turn an idea to a text format (a blog post, e-book, report) you may need to do some further research. This forces you to check the facts and learn more about that topic.

    Action Steps:

    • Dedicate a time block for writing (for example 1 hour/day)
    • Choose the part of the day when you are less likely to be distracted (and when you are alert enough to focus).

    For example, I wake up early and write almost every morning before going to work. I’m productive during the morning hours and our home is quiet, so I can concentrate well on my writing.

    5. Experiment

    Not only is it important to study and write, but also to experiment with the knowledge you have. This in turn leads to other valuable innovations, which improves your experience level even further.

    Action Steps:

    • Spend time testing and experimenting with all the theories you have learned in practice
    • Take enough time to experiment with a theory to see if it works or not – then report your own findings (blog post, report …)
    • Create case studies: Demonstrate how something was changed after applying this particular theory in practice

    6. Strengthen yourself

    Although you need strong technical skills as an expert, there are other set of skills that you should master too.

    These skills are related to your personal time management and presenting skills.

    Action Steps:

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    • Learn some basic time management skills. When you work, you should focus enough on the tasks at hand and avoid distractions if possible. Also, knowing what parts to focus on is important so that you are not wasting time on unessential things.
    • Learn about public speaking. There will be times when you have to teach your expertise in front of the crowd. By learning about public speaking, you make a good impression on your listeners. Amazon has plenty of books related to this topic. A more effective way to learn about public speaking is to take a public speaking course or join Toast Masters. Only practice will make you better at speaking publicly.
    • Finally, taking action is also a great way to get more self-confidence. Rather than sticking to theories, actually do something – take action! This is a great way to boost your confidence.

    7. Teach others

    One of the best ways to learn a new topic is to teach others. With the help of the internet, it is possible to teach others online – you aren’t restricted to just teaching physically in classrooms.

    You teach others by doing guest posting, videos, podcasts, webinars or teleseminars. Once you are comfortable with these ways of teaching, you can start speaking on stage, in classrooms or at your industry events.

    Action Steps:

    • Write guest posts on other blogs
    • Create videos or podcasts on your blog where you teach about your topic
    • Have webinars and teleseminars with other experts in your market
    • Offer your training at community colleges
    • Conduct workshops
    • Perform public speaking presentations to a smaller groups first, then bigger ones
    • Consult via Skype

    8. Ask from others

    Asking is a powerful way of learning more and you should take advantage of this method.

    For example, I have realized that interviewing others is a great way to learn more from experts in my industry.

    Asking has also another great benefit: When you reach the top experts in your market, you are going to be on their radar and it may be easier to form new important relationships with the top players in your market.

    Action Steps:

    • Interview the top experts in your market by e-mail, podcasts or on videos and publish the material on your blog.

    Conclusion

    Becoming a recognized expert is not a sprint, not even a marathon – it’s a 100 mile run! That’s why you have to be dedicated and committed fully to this journey. For example, I have been studying time management since 2007 and I still have plenty of things to learn.

    So how do you know when you are an expert? You will realize this when others start noticing you and what you do. Little by little you’ll begin to be asked for interviews and opinions. Let others acknowledge that you are an expert rather than you declaring it yourself!

    Remember, there is no deadline in becoming an expert. It will happen gradually over time.

    Over to you: When did you realize that you were an expert in your field? How long did it take you to reach this status?

    (Photo credit: Slow Down Sign via Shutterstock)

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    More by this author

    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Last Updated on September 9, 2021

    10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

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    10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021

    Productivity planners and journals are tools of a trade. There’s an art to productivity. Just like art is very personal to the artist, productivity is very personal to the person. What works for you may not work for me. This is an important distinction if you really want get more done in less time.

    Too many of us dabble in productivity hacks only to move on to the next tool or trend when it didn’t workout for us, missing the lesson of what worked and didn’t work about that tool or trend.

    We put the tool on a pedestal and miss the art. It’s worshipping the paint brush rather than the process and act of painting. We miss the art of our own productivity when the tool overshadows the treasure.

    As an artist, you have many brushes to choose from. You’re looking for a brush that feels best in your hand. You want a brush that doesn’t distract you from your art but partners with you to create the many things you see in your mind to create. Finding a brush like this may take some experimenting, but when you understand that the role of the brush is to bring life to your vision, it’s easier to find the right brush.

    Planners are the same way. You want a productivity journal that supports you in the creation of your vision, not one that bogs you down or steals your energy.

    Let’s dive into the 10 best productivity planners and journals to help you get more done in less time.

    1. The One Thing Planner

    The NY Times best selling book, The One Thing, just released their new planner. If you loved this book, you’ll love this planner.

    As the founder of the world’s largest real estate company Keller Williams Realty, Gary Keller, has mastered the art of focus. The One Thing planner has its roots in industry changing productivity. If you’re out to put a dent in the universe, this may be the planner for you.

    Get the planner here!

    2. The Full Life Planner

    The Full Life Planner is Lifehacks’ ultimate planning system to get results across all your core life aspects including work, health and relationships. This smart planner is 15 years of Lifehack’s best practices and proven success formulas by top performers.

    With the Full Life Planner, you can align your actions to long term milestones every day, week, and month consistently. This will help you to get more done and achieve your goals.

    Get the planner here!

    3. The Freedom Journal

    Creator of one of the most prolific podcasts ever, Entrepreneur on Fire, John Lee Dumas released his productivity journal in 2016. This hard-cover journal focuses on accomplishing SMART goals in 100 days.

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    From their site:

    “The Freedom Journal is an accountability partner that won’t let you fail. John Lee Dumas has interviewed over 2000 successful Entrepreneurs and has created a unique step-by-step process that will guide you in SETTING and ACCOMPLISHING your #1 goal in 100 days.”

    Get the planner here!

    4. Full Focus Planner

    Michael Hyatt, author of Platform and host of the podcast “This is Your Life”, also has his own planner called the Full Focus Planner.

    From the site:

    “Built for a 90-day achievement cycle, the Full Focus Planner® gives you a quarter of a year’s content so you aren’t overwhelmed by planning (and tracking) 12 months at a time.”

    This productivity planner includes a place for annual goals, a monthly calendar, quarterly planning, the ideal week, daily pages, a place for rituals, weekly preview and quarterly previews. It also comes with a Quickstart lessons to help you master the use of the planner.

    Get the planner here!

    5. Passion Planner

    They call themselves the #pashfam and think of their planner as a “paper life coach”. Their formats include dated, academic and undated in hardbound journals with assorted colors. With over 600,000 users they have a track record for effective planners.

    From the site:

    “An appointment calendar, goal setting guide, journal, sketchbook, gratitude log & personal and work to-do lists all in one notebook.”

    They have a get-one give-one program. For every Passion Planner that is bought they will donate one to a student or someone in need.

    They also provide free PDF downloads of their planners. This is a great way to test drive if their planner is right for you.

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    Get the planner here!

    6. Desire Map Planners

    If you’re looking for a more spiritually oriented planner, Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, created the Desire Map Planners. With Daily planners, Weekly planners and Undated planners you can find the right fit for you.

    Behind this planner is the Desire Map Planner Program including 3 workbooks that not only support you in using the planners but guide you in your thought process about your life and intentions you’re using the planner to help you fulfill.

    Get the planner here!

    7. Franklin Covey Planners

    The grandfather of all planners, Franklin Covey, has the most options when it comes to layouts, binders, and accessories. With over 30 years in the productivity planner business, they not only provide a ton of planner layouts, they also have been teaching productivity and planning from the beginning.

    From the site:

    “Achieve what matters most with innovative, high quality planners and binders tailored to your personal style. Our paper planning system guides you to identify values, create successful habits, and track and achieve your goals.”

    Get the planner here!

    8. Productivity Planner

    From the makers of the best selling journal backed by Tim Ferriss, “The Five Minute Journal”, comes the Productivity Planner.

    Combining the Ivy Lee method which made Charles Schwab millions with the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused in the moment, the Productivity Planner is both intelligent and effective.

    It allows for six months of planning, 5-day daily pages, weekly planning and weekly review, a prioritized task list, Pomodoro time tracking, and extra space for notes.

    From the site:

    “Do you often find yourself busy, while more important tasks get procrastinated on? The Productivity Planner helps you prioritize and accomplish the vital few tasks that make your day satisfying. Quality over quantity. Combined with the Pomodoro Technique to help you avoid distractions, the Productivity Planner assists you to get better work done in less time.”

    Get the planner here!

    9. Self Journal

    Endorsed by Daymond John of Shark Tank, the Self Journal takes a 13 week approach and combines Monthly, Weekly and Daily planning to help you stay focused on the things that really matter.

    Self Journal includes additional tools to help you produce with their Weekly Action Pad, Project Action Pad, the Sidekick pocket journal to capture your ideas on the go and their SmartMarks bookmarks that act as a notepad while you’re reading.

    Get the planner here!

    10. Google Calendar

    You may already use Google Calendar for appointments, but with a couple tweaks you can use it as a productivity planner.

    Productivity assumes we have time to do the work we intend to do. So blocking time on your Google Calendar and designating it as “busy” will prevent others from filling up those spaces on your calendar. Actually using those blocks of time as you intended is up to you.

    If you use a booking tool like Schedule Once or Calendly, you can integrate it with your Google Calendar. For maximum productivity and rhythm, I recommend creating a consistent “available” block of time each day for these kinds of appointments.

    Google Calendar is free, web based and to the point. If you’re a bottom line person and easily hold your priorities in your head, this may be a good solution for you.

    Get the planner here!

    Bonus Advice: Integrate the 4 Building Blocks of Productivity

    Just as important to productivity planners as the tool are the principles that we create inside of. There are 4 building blocks of productivity, that when embraced, accelerate your energy and results.

    The four building blocks of productivity are desire, strategy, focus and rhythm. When you get these right, having a productivity planner or journal provides the structure to keep you on track.

    Block #1: Desire

    Somehow in the pursuit of all our goals, we accumulate ideas and To-Do’s we’re not actually passionate about and don’t really want to pursue. They sneak their way in and steal our focus from the things that really matter.

    Underneath powerful productivity is desire. Not many little desires, but the overarching mother of desires. The desire you feel in your gut, the desire that comes from your soul, not your logic, is what you need to tap into if you want to level up your productivity.

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    A productivity planner is just a distraction if you’re not clear on what it’s all for. With desire, however, your productivity planner provides the guide rails to accomplish your intentions.

    Block #2: Strategy

    Once you’re clear on your overarching desire, you need to organize your steps to get there. Let’s call this “strategy”. Strategy is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. You must first turn over all the pieces to see patterns, colors, connections and find borders.

    In business and life, we often start trying to put our “puzzle” together without turning over all the pieces. We put many items on our To-Do lists and clog our planners with things that aren’t important to the bigger picture of our puzzle.

    Strategy is about taking the time to brain dump all the things in your head related to your goal and then looking for patterns and priorities. As you turn over these puzzle pieces, you’ll begin to see the more important tasks that take care of the less important tasks or make the less important tasks irrelevant.

    In the best selling book, The One Thing, the focusing question they teach is:

    “What’s the One thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else is easier or unnecessary?”

    This is the heart of strategy and organizing what hits your planner and what doesn’t.

    Block #3: Focus

    With your priorities identified, now you can focus on the One Thing that makes everything else easier or unnecessary. This is where your productivity planners and journals help you hold the line.

    Because you’ve already turned over the puzzle pieces, you aren’t distracted by new shiny objects. If new ideas come along, and they will, you will better see how and where they fit in the big picture of your desire and strategy, allowing you to go back and focus on your One Thing.

    Block #4: Rhythm

    The final building block of productivity is rhythm. There is a rhythm in life and work that works best for you. When you find this rhythm, time stands still, productivity is easy and your experience of work is joyful.

    Some call this flow. As you hone your self-awareness about your ideal rhythm you will find yourself riding flow more often and owning your productivity.

    Without these four building blocks of productivity, you’re like a painter with a paintbrush and no idea how to use it to create what’s in your heart to create. But harness these four building blocks and find yourself getting more done in less time.

    The Bottom Line

    Your life is your art. Everyday you have a chance to create something amazing. By understanding and using the four building blocks of productivity, you will set yourself up for success no matter which planner, or “paintbrush”, you choose to use.

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    As you experiment with different planners you will narrow which one is best for you and accelerate your path to putting a dent in the universe.

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    Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

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