How do you keep laser focus?

DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Teradata Assc 16, CSM, MS Access 2016, 2019Member Posts: 2,584 ■■■■■■■■■□
With IT being such a large vast field, it's becomes easy to get distracted from what you want to achieve. How to you keep your focus on one particular subset of knowledge so that you can actually become proficient. Do you write your goals down, are you natural gifted in this area? Maybe this is not your philosophy and you would rather remain a JOAT and dabble.

I find that taking the direction from my boss helps to a certain degree. While i realize that might not be the best way to achieve your OWN goals, it is better than running around aimlessly. Where I want to go at times feels like a daunting task. One day at a time and accepting your own limitation IMO is a good start. But doesn't really address the focus piece.

I guess what I am trying to ask is:

How to you determine the scope of knowledge you want to gain
What mechanisms do you put in place to achieve that knowledge
How do you ward off the temptation to knowledge jump when attempting to synthesize a specific knowledge set
When do you conclude your training freeing you up to move into another knowledge set

Or...... Maybe learning isn't as effective this way and one must remain more organic in their approach to learning.

Comments

  • koz24koz24 Member Posts: 766 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Knowledge jumping is very tempting for me because Cisco has so many tracks that I'm interested in. I've found a good way to keep myself invested into one track at a time is to invest a whole bunch of money into that one track. That way I feel committed and will hopefully complete it.
  • MitMMitM Member Posts: 622 ■■■■□□□□□□
    It's so easy to jump around all over the place, especially when you look at some job postings and see all the things employers are asking for.

    In the past, I would try to set timelines, like I want to pass CCNA within 3 months. What I found is, this doesn't work for me. I like to learn at my own pace, and I always try to learn above what a specific certification is asking for. When I was studying for CCNA DC, I was using CCIE materials, because I wanted to know more.

    Now, I pick one goal and work strictly on that goal. I try to put in at least 5 hours a week of study time. I also like to take one day and go back to cover other technologies to keep them fresh.

    What are some of the things that you are trying to accomplish?
  • Node ManNode Man Member Posts: 668 ■■■□□□□□□□
    +1 Koz24

    I pay for an exam in advance and then benefit from the time pressure.
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Teradata Assc 16, CSM, MS Access 2016, 2019 Member Posts: 2,584 ■■■■■■■■■□
    @MitM - The challenge I face is that one set of knowledge is not always the best way for me to learn.

    Example: Currently I am working through forecasting demand, (I am in a hybrid IT / Business Role). I have a book and through a few chapters it was great but then it begins to fade or I begin to fade. I switched to YouTube ("Staying Organic") and find I begin to get better results for that particular piece of study, the problem is the content is EFFECTIVE but very limited. So now I am forced to swing back to the previous method or find another, which I end up doing both. But even in this scenario it feels daunting and overwhelming. You have all these fringe elements that associate with the current body of knowledge I am seeking.

    Clear as mud?!

    Thanks for the dialog good times.
  • MitMMitM Member Posts: 622 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Sorry, I may be confused. For your example, you were reading a book on forecasting demand. When you faded, did you start watching youtube videos on forecasting demand or a completely different topic?
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Teradata Assc 16, CSM, MS Access 2016, 2019 Member Posts: 2,584 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Same topic on YouTube. Found the videos on Youtube to mesh with my learning style, the only problem was the limited content available. ~30 minutes of runtime and it was done.
  • MitMMitM Member Posts: 622 ■■■■□□□□□□
    got it! I typically fade any time that I'm reading a book. I'm much more of a visual learner, which is why I stick with the INE's and CBTNuggets of the world. I'll always start with videos (even YouTube) and then go to a book or documentation for more info. This way, I can skim through the fluff. For some reasons, technical books distract me.
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,298 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I find it kind of difficult. I work in the security field, I can stay mostly focused in that field but there is so much to learn that I feel like I could easily be pulled in 20 different directions every day. Not nearly enough hours in the day.
  • MJK9550MJK9550 Member Posts: 160
    I agree, definitely not enough hours in the day.
  • alias454alias454 Member Posts: 648
    I'm very laissez faire about my learning endeavors, keeping a broad interest in many things. Of course, the problem with that take is becoming an expert in any one of those things is difficult when so many things compete for my time. However, when the time comes to really dig down deep, because of a requirement at work or when something really piques my interest, focusing on specific knowledge is much easier. One thing I find with finding/selecting a specific topic is having an ability to apply that knowledge in a practical way. Sometimes the opportunity isn't there so something that might be interesting gets put on the back burner.
    “I do not seek answers, but rather to understand the question.”
  • chopstickschopsticks Member Posts: 389
    I jump around a lot. But that helps me to understand more on the same topic than if I were to focus just on it. For example, currently I'm studying the CCNA and CCNP Data Center topics (with UCS), then I realise I have a better understaning on the STP and EtherChannel (or Port Channel) topics of the CCNA Routing and Switching. But that maybe just me. :)
  • E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 1,767 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I focus my learning on what is related to my job. With this approach I choose a certification to study for that is relevant to my duties so I can reinforce the reading material with real world hands on instead of relying on a lab environment.

    On the job I try to focus most on the tools that would more likely be used with other employers in the event that I move on (Cisco, Splunk, etc).
    Alphabet soup: CISSP, CCSP, CISM, CISA, GDSA, GPEN, GCIA, GCIH, GCCC, CEH, Azure Fundamentals, Azure Security Engineer Associate, ITIL 4 Foundation, and more.

    2020 goals: AZ-900, AZ-500, GDSA, ITILv4

    "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." - Homer Simpson
  • beadsbeads Senior Member Member Posts: 1,511 ■■■■■■■■■□
    @DatabaseHead;

    I think your getting bored when you lack the ability to show increasing mastery of a more theoretical subset of knowledge, i.e. its hard to apply until you are assigned a real world task. If I am reading between the lines correctly it becomes harder and harder to prove to yourself that you have actually mastered the subject matter to yourself.

    When there are no exercises or ways to practice, your just layering more and more theory on top of itself and you feel like your getting nowhere. Chicken before the egg, perhaps?

    My suggestion would be to find a way to be able to apply these new theoretical skills to a project in real life THEN go back and look at some theory videos, etc. Guessing you will find a whole new appreciation for what your watching and trying to learn.

    Good luck, its never easy to blaze a trail like this. My trail is longer term risk prediction combined with risk modeling. Accuracy can be a biznatch.

    - b/eads
  • EagerDinosaurEagerDinosaur Member Posts: 114
    Studying for developer certifications from a single vendor helps me to develop deep knowledge of a single technology stack.

    I try to focus my learning time on products and technologies that are likely to still be in demand in 5 years time.

    My current employer expects me to do development with a wide range of technology stacks, with little preparation. As a result I'm a jack of all trades, master of none. That's a problem if I want to get a job elsewhere, because most employers look for people with deep knowledge of single stack.
  • sillymcnastysillymcnasty Member Posts: 254 ■■■□□□□□□□
    For one, I like this speech:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38lx3MPNmag

    I listen to it every time I feel like not doing anything.

    Two, I look up jobs and salaries that I don't have yet and need to learn a bunch of things, then imagine how that better job can improve my life so much. Money doesn't solve all your problems, but it solves all of mine lol.

    Three, I have a whiteboard that acts as a to-do list. List every thing I need to do to, and check things off one by one. The act of seeing things completed gets me much more focused. Also did the same with the CCNA objectives. Looking at it from Day1 and being overwhelmed, so when I took the test and just crossed off everything because I learned it all, was nice.
  • koz24koz24 Member Posts: 766 ■■■■□□□□□□
    superbeast wrote: »
    my ADD medication usually helps me with maintaining laser focus icon_lol.gif

    I also take Adderall and it would be very hard to function without it. After work, when I'm labbing and I'm not on call and the Adderall has lost it's effects, I use medical marijuana. I've found Sour Diesel which is a Sativa strain to GREATLY help my ADD and depression. I can't say enough good things about this strain, it's been such a blessing.

    If you are in a state that has recreational/medical marijuana I'd suggest this strain for ADD/Depression: https://www.leafly.com/sativa/sour-diesel

    Here are a few others from Leafly:

    https://www.leafly.com/news/strains-products/best-cannabis-strains-for-focus-and-addadhd
  • SaraParkSaraPark Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I try to gain only those info which relates to my work.It is very hard to cope with the concentration also with new information.
  • PocketLumberjackPocketLumberjack Member Posts: 162 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I find that maintaining a good amount of caffeine through coffee in the morning and green tea in the afternoon gives me better results than my ADD medication. I am on the lowest dose and it still makes me too jumpy. Also exercise and sleep are super important.
    But as far as learning something new I go for a cert that I am interested in or read(and code along with) a programing book of a language I am interested in to keep me moving forward. I break the study material up into simple next actions and try to do a little every day understanding that a little every day adds up to a lot over a year etc. I am going back to school in the winter so we will see how a syllabus helps or hurts. But I think it is important to have an end goal with little tasks to get you there.
    Learn some thing new every day, but don’t forget to review things you know.
  • koz24koz24 Member Posts: 766 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I forgot to take my Adderall a day ago and it was as nightmare at work. No amount of coffee or tea helped. Problem is for those of us with severe ADD/ADHD is that our brains naturally do not have enough stimulation. No amount of concentration, tricks, and OTC meds help. Adderall and to a lesser extent Ritalin do not make me jumpy or jittery at all. In fact they have the opposite effect--I'm super calm but laser focused on the task at hand.
  • xxxkaliboyxxxxxxkaliboyxxx Member Posts: 466
    I'm a man that gets distracted easily, I need complete quiet, I mean like a feather hitting the pillow kind of quiet. Also I find sleeping a good 8 hours and studying first thing in the morning when you are fresh seems to work for a few hours.
    Studying: GPEN
    Reading
    : SANS SEC560
    Upcoming Exam: GPEN
  • LexluetharLexluethar Member Posts: 516
    Mine is a mixture of what i'm passionate about and where I see myself in 3 to 5 years. I've always been interested in the Microsoft stack so over the past 4 or so years i've accumulated some Microsoft certifications. During that time I started supporting our VMware environment so I went down that path simply because it interested me and I needed to do it for work.

    It's a struggle between focusing on what you like and what your employer is pushing you towards. Sprinkle in there what you desire to be and where the market is heading. Realize too none of it is set in stone, if in 2 years a product doesn't interest you or no longer exists you can just switch gears.

    Also i don't see a JOAT as a horrible thing, yes you want to have a core knowledge base but knowing how to configure a port on a switch isn't bad either. If you are going to work for a huge company, they probably are just wanting you to only do one technology, if you work for a company of say 1,000 people or less a JOAT with core knowledge of a few things isn't bad. It makes you more versatile in the event you make a career move.
  • DatabaseHeadDatabaseHead Teradata Assc 16, CSM, MS Access 2016, 2019 Member Posts: 2,584 ■■■■■■■■■□
    It's a struggle between focusing on what you like and what your employer is pushing you towards. Sprinkle in there what you desire to be and where the market is heading. Realize too none of it is set in stone, if in 2 years a product doesn't interest you or no longer exists you can just switch gears.

    This is a very good point, something I was struggling with. At first I wanted to stay 100% technical working with ETL's, Database management etc. What I have been asked to do is much more on the data science side (no I am not calling myself a data scientist).

    Setting up mining structures and then using different languages to draw probabilities and correlations between the data. If I had it my way I would of stayed in the development space but over time have realized that this might not be bad. Keep in mind I am mile 1 on a hundred mile hike so......
    Also i don't see a JOAT as a horrible thing, yes you want to have a core knowledge base but knowing how to configure a port on a switch isn't bad either. If you are going to work for a huge company, they probably are just wanting you to only do one technology, if you work for a company of say 1,000 people or less a JOAT with core knowledge of a few things isn't bad. It makes you more versatile in the event you make a career move.

    I don't either, but I don't see it as a good thing either if it's your main go to card. Obviously (or maybe not) it's good to have a nice blend of skills, but being a master at least at one item is REALLY important from my perspective and previous experiences.
  • LexluetharLexluethar Member Posts: 516
    Agreed DatabaseHead - you have to at least have one more competency that you are really good at. Otherwise i feel employers will look at you as a nomad of technology or someone just not smart enough to buckle down and learn a specific technology through and through.
  • JDMurrayJDMurray MSIT InfoSec, CISSP, SSCP, GSEC, EnCE, C|EH, CySA+, PenTest+, CASP+, Security+ Surf City, USAAdmin Posts: 11,900 Admin
    Node Man wrote: »
    I pay for an exam in advance and then benefit from the time pressure.
    Yep, that does it for me too.
  • Klein2442Klein2442 Member Posts: 12 ■□□□□□□□□□
    MitM wrote: »
    got it! I typically fade any time that I'm reading a book. I'm much more of a visual learner, which is why I stick with the INE's and CBTNuggets of the world. I'll always start with videos (even YouTube) and then go to a book or documentation for more info. This way, I can skim through the fluff. For some reasons, technical books distract me.

    I am the same exact way.
  • thatguy67thatguy67 Member Posts: 344 ■■■■□□□□□□
    It's hard for me to keep laser focus. My end goal is pentesting which requires sysadmin, scripting, networking, security, etc. Knowledge jumping seems to be a requirement :D

    I write out the certs I want to get every morning (I take it a year at a time so right now I write out the certs in my sig). Sometimes I find myself studying Microsoft when I've got a Cisco exam coming up, but I don't view that as a bad thing because, to be fair, it's upkeep for the MCSA I have.
    2017 Goals: []PCNSE7 []CCNP:Security []CCNP:R&S []LCDE []WCNA
  • E Double UE Double U Member Posts: 1,767 ■■■■■■■■■□
    thatguy67 wrote: »
    I write out the certs I want to get

    I do this too! I also update it on my resume the night before the exam even when I'm not sure I'll pass lol.
    Alphabet soup: CISSP, CCSP, CISM, CISA, GDSA, GPEN, GCIA, GCIH, GCCC, CEH, Azure Fundamentals, Azure Security Engineer Associate, ITIL 4 Foundation, and more.

    2020 goals: AZ-900, AZ-500, GDSA, ITILv4

    "You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try." - Homer Simpson
  • superbeastsuperbeast Member Posts: 86 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Concerta is my ADD med and the time release helps me stay focused all day. I notice a big difference when I am on it and when I am not. For example, today I forgot to take it(morning rush getting myself and two sons ready) and i've jumped from my work, to my phone, to my security+ book, to my e-mail, back to my work, to this site. It's hard to focus on one item when I am not on my meds and feel like I my attention can't stick to just one thing.
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