The 4 Stages of Competence
Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash.
The Four Stages of Competence
Have you ever developed mastery in a skill or subject and thought “Wow, I can't believe I can do this now”? Whether it’s learning French, martial arts, how to make pots or a new job skill, expertise is an amazing feeling. But how did you get there?
In a recent coaching class, I found out. The Four Stages of Competence is a concept developed by Noel Burch at Gordon Training International that’s been around since the ’70s and still rings true — we go through four stages to achieve mastery of a new skill. You may recognize them in your own experience, like I did.
Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence (Ignorance)
With any new skill, we usually start in a place of unconscious incompetence. We have little to no knowledge about the skill and are also unconscious of our ignorance. Motto for this stage: You don't know what you don't know.
Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence (Awareness)
We now have some knowledge about our lack of skill. We are also conscious that there is much we need to learn before mastery is achieved.
Stage 3: Conscious Competence (Learning)
Through active learning, we now know how to do the desired skill but it requires practice and effort.
Stage 4: Unconscious Competence (Mastery)
In this stage, the skill is now easy for us to perform and can be done unconsciously and without much effort.
How does it work? Think about learning to drive. We start with having no idea of what’s involved. Then, we take driver's ed and see how much there is to learn. As student drivers, we can drive, but with great effort and attention. As adults, driving becomes second nature.
I relate to these four stages of learning in many areas of my life. I love to paint with watercolors, for example, but even after many years, I feel that I am solidly in Stage 2, Conscious Incompetence. I marvel at others’ ability to paint with beauty and ease.
How does this concept relate to organizing and the home? Suppose you want to organize your closet, where disorder is a long-standing challenge. The four stages could look like this:
Stage 1: You’re aware of the challenge, but not aware that new knowledge and skills may help to address it.
Stage 2: You start to understand that there's a knowledge gap and some learning could be helpful. This may come as an aha! moment where you think "No one ever taught me how to do that.”
Stage 3: You begin to use your new skills, perhaps letting go of clothing you no longer need, hanging items up, or realizing you need a new plan for your space.
Stage 4: Your new skill of keeping your closet organized has now become second nature. When things start to fall apart, you know what to do to get the space back in order.
Learning new skills and changing habits is a lifelong journey that may seem daunting at first, but even small changes can yield big results. The first step: Developing awareness of the knowledge gap.
That’s where I can help. Coaching and organizing can get you through all four stages, from creating awareness to creating habits that stick. If you’re looking to get started, I hope you’ll reach out!
One of my fabulously well-dressed clients recently informed me about StyleBook. What is StyleBook, you ask? It's an app that helps you virtually organize your real closet.
In the app, you can snap photos of your clothing, categorize individual pieces, and create virtual "looks". You can also put outfits on your calendar, create a packing list, save fashion inspiration, and shop at your favorite brands directly from the app.
If you're a person that loves all things fashion, this may be the app for you! If like me, your wardrobe is minimal and consists of too many pairs of jeans and t-shirts, it may be overkill. It's not a quick process, but I can see how it would pay off over time. StyleBook would be very handy when out shopping because you have your whole wardrobe at your fingertips! Finding items that work with what you already have would be a snap. It may even inspire me to upgrade from my jeans and t-shirts!
Give StyleBook a try and let me know what you think!
If you enjoyed this, check out my post about the West Portal Goodwill Boutique!
Tons of Kids' Artwork?
Pick It Up may receive a commission for purchases made through a referral link for Keepy at the end of this article.
If you have kids, you know they love to create! From stick-figure family portraits to clay animals, they love to make, make, make. And you, of course, are the recipient of these amazing artistic gifts.
But, you may ask, what do I do with all of these masterpieces? The artwork is covering the refrigerator, piled on their desk and pouring out of drawers. As this recent Atlantic Monthly article shows, it's definitely something parents struggle with!
There is no single best way to handle all of your kids' art, but after trial and error, here are a few strategies I have developed to help parents to appreciate, honor, share, and maybe even let go of some of it.
Strategy 1: Show & Go
This strategy focuses on making it easy to display, swap out and store your kid's art. First, create a temporary holder for the incoming artwork. I like using a woven storage bin or large document case for this purpose. Regularly purge through the pile, saving only the very best pieces.
Next, set up a little gallery with some twine and clothespins. Swapping the art out is so easy that even the artist themselves can do it! Once an exhibition comes down, keep items for long-term storage in a handled portfolio labeled with each child's name.
Strategy 2: Display & File
This strategy is all about displaying and appreciating your kid's artwork. As with the first strategy, make a temporary storage area for the constant influx of art and regularly purge through the contents.
Next, display the best pieces with style in Dynamic Frames. These look like traditional frames, but the glass front hinges open to make changing the artwork easy.
At the end of the school year, whittle down the artwork to a manageable amount and permanently store it in a legal size expanding wallet labeled with the school year.
Strategy 3: Archive & Share
This strategy is for those that love sharing and technology. As with the other strategies, make a temporary storage area for the constant influx of art and regularly purge through the contents.
Next, snap photos of the best pieces and share them with an app like Keepy. Keepy makes it easy to digitally organize and save artwork, schoolwork, and mementos. Since it is a digital platform, you can easily share your kids' artwork, videos and audio clips with friends and family and they can share their thoughts back as well. Keepy is about more than archiving your kids' art, it's a community platform with so many fun uses.
Keepy also makes it easy to print photo books of your kids' art. If you do, be sure to use the code PICKITUPSF20 at checkout to get 20% off! By using this referral code, Pick It Up does receive a commission.
Of course, you can create your own individual strategy for managing your kids' artwork using any combination of the above ideas. The most important thing is to have a plan, or the art and school work can easily take over!
If your little artist needs a dedicated studio space, take a look at my Kid Art Area Pinterest board for some ideas on making creative spaces. Alternately, feel free to book a session to help tackle the art spaces and artwork together!
If you enjoyed this post check out Creative Spaces for Kids!
Now that we are back in the swing of school, many of us are helping our kids build healthy and independent routines. Recently, I discovered The Trip Clip. It's a website where you can design personalized charts, lists, and routines for your kids. When finished, the chart is saved as a PDF that you can print yourself. You can also go in and edit the chart as your child's routine changes.
The Trip Clip offers morning, bedtime and after-school routines, lunch and packing lists, and chore charts, just to name a few. What's really cool is that you get to choose the icons and the wording for each list you create.
The Trip Clip also has tons of printable activities for kids like coloring pages, mazes, math games, bingo, and crossword puzzles. There is a multitude of options for each game and activity. And, it's extremely reasonable as well, at $14.95 for access to all activities on the site. Print a bunch and be ready for that next road trip!
The Trip Clip www.thetripclip.com
If you enjoyed this post check out Organize Your way Back to School.
For many people, the constant onslaught of paper is a challenge that never seems to end. I often hear:
"What should I do with this?"
"I have a file cabinet, but I have no idea what's in there."
"Do really I need this?"
The answer, of course, depends on the paper and the person. I have found the trick to managing household papers is to have a system in place that reliably catches all that paper and helps you decide what do with each item. Think of this as your paper flow.
In the Pick It Up Quick-Guide to Paper Flow, I discuss the three steps to creating an effective paper flow. Papers should land in the same location each day. They should be processed with regularity, and a system is needed for both short and long-term retention. For additional tips on creating your flow, subscribe to the Create Your Home quarterly newsletter and get the Quick-Guide to Paper Flow as a free download.
An area where many people get hung up is reference files. Most of us have a filing cabinet, but for many people, it is full of old files and is often in an inaccessible location. By following the below steps, you can bring your filing cabinet back to life!
1) PURGE. Dust off that cabinet and purge it like crazy! The older the files, the greater the chance they can be tossed or shredded. Ask yourself if you really need the papers for reference? Are these documents accessible online? Tax documents only need to be kept for seven years. Ask your CPA if you have any specific tax-related questions or check out the IRS retention guidelines. Always shred any documents with personal information like your social security number or account numbers.
2) STRUCTURE. Now that your file cabinet has been whittled down to current files, start giving it some structure. Do your remaining files fall into natural categories? Common categories would be Auto, Finances, Home and Health. Create a broad category and nest appropriate files under this heading. Here is an example:
AUTO (the broad category)
I find it is visually helpful to keep the broad category tab on the far left and the sub-folder tabs to the right. If you like to alphabetize, go for it!
3) MAINTAIN. Now that you have an easy-to-use filing system all you have to do is maintain it. Easier said than done, I know! File your papers right away, to avoid a huge pile of documents that need to be filed. Purge your filing cabinet a few times a year to keep it current.
Filing may seem tedious, but with a little time and work, it can become a routine that helps keep your life running smoothly.
I never used to get birthday cards out on time. Truly. I had people's birthday's on my calendar, I had their address, I had birthday cards, I even had stamps on hand. Still, I never seemed to get the cards out in time.
I am happy to say all that changed last year. Why? I started a birthday card tickler system. I know at this point you're thinking, "What the heck is a tickler system?" Admittedly it's a strange name, but it's just a reminder system that "tickles" your memory. It's also an easy way to get ahead on those pesky cards. With a few simple supplies and a little time, you can get all your birthday cards taken care of for the year!
GATHER. Start by gathering the above supplies. Purchase as many birthday or occasion cards and stamps as you will need for the year. Don't go overboard! Keep your card list manageable.
ADDRESS. Your tickler system starts with an expanding file folder with twelve pockets, labeled for each month of the year. Determine if anyone on your list has a January birthday. If so, choose a card for them, address it, stamp it and place the return address on it. I like to leave the inside of the card blank so I can write a personal note at the time that I am sending it, but that's up to you. If you are leaving the card interior blank for now, be sure not to seal the envelope!
FILE. Place a sticky note on the card with the actual birth date so you know if you should send it early or later in the month. Place it in the January pocket and move on. Do this for each person on your list. When one month is done, I find it helpful to arrange the cards in order of date before I place them in the file. If someone has a birthday in the first few days of the month, I place their card in the month prior, so I get it off to them on time.
REVIEW & SEND. At the start of each month, open up the pocket for that month and see which cards need to be sent. If you left the interior of the card blank, now is a great time to write a heartfelt note in each. A week or so before the date, pop it in the mail and you're done!
Now, if you want to stop there, congratulate yourself on a job well done! However, if you have a love of paper-arts or drawing you may want to embellish your letters. You could add some fun stickers to the envelopes. If you have a flair for brush script or calligraphy, you could make the name or address really special! Get inspired by the beautiful handwriting on 19th-century letters. If you love drawing, you could doodle on the envelope. If you love stamps, instead of putting one 50¢ stamp, place a curated collection of stamps that add up to 50¢ like my talented friend Jenny. I love getting her letters because they are so beautiful!
This whole project was inspired by a Dutch magazine called Flow. It comes out a few times a year and is full of gorgeous paper, fun pull-outs, stickers and lots of postcards. This magazine just makes you want to send beautiful letters! I love sending letters so much now that I include one or two a month in my tickler system just to say "hello" to people. Add your individual heart and creativity to these letters, knowing that they will go out into the world all year long and make people smile!
Organize your way Back to School
Back to school often involves new books, new clothes, new shoes, a new schedule and sometimes a even new school! With all this change, it can also feel busy and overwhelming. A little organization can go a long way towards making the transition easier. Below are a few ideas for getting your home in shape for fall. For more inspiration check out my back to school Pinterest board.
Purge Kids Clothes. Take a look through your kids dresser and closet. Are there any clothes that have seen better days or they have outgrown? Anything they have a ridiculous number of? Box them up for a younger sibling or toss them in a bag for Goodwill. While your at it, make a list of the basics that need replacing.
Create a Drop Zone. Is there a pile near your front door of shoes, coats, backpacks and school projects? Maybe it's time for a "drop zone". If you're tight on space, this can be as simple as hook for a backpack, a tray for shoes and a dedicated spot for all incoming papers. If you have a bit more room, you may want to create something more elaborate like these mudrooms featured on Comfy Dwelling.
Homework Haven. Kids need a dedicated place to do homework that is quiet, free from distractions and has all the tools they need at hand. It does't take much to create this area. Start with a desk, a comfortable chair, a desk lamp and a few mason jars for writing utensils and scissors. You may want to add in a space for paper and books and a charging station. Add in a few personal touches like some of their artwork and it's ready to go!
As always, feel free to book a session if you would like some help making any of these back to school ideas a reality.
There's a connection between making space in your home and making space in your life. Why not also make space in your head?
Headspace is a lovely little app that makes meditation a friendly and accessible experience. Get yourself some Headspace!
Getting Organized with Evernote
For a long time, I wasn't sure what to make of Evernote, a free note-capture software. I got an account and for years, I did nothing with it. What was I supposed to do? How was I supposed to use it? People raved and I just didn't get it. Then slowly, but surely, I started using it and I was hooked. Below are a few of my favorite ways to use Evernote.
NOTE CAPTURE. As you may have guessed, Evernote is great at keeping track of notes. Start by taking the various notes you had been keeping in Word or on paper, and put that information into Evernote. Emergency contact lists, favorite recipes, party ideas. Whatever it may be, Evernote is a great place to hold that information. The best part? Evernote is searchable so you can find the note you need in a flash.
WEB CLIPPER. Evernote has a very useful Web clipper that works directly in your browser. See an article you like or a restaurant you want to remember? Clip it and it goes directly into your notebook.
TASK LISTS. Every Monday I sit down with my Evernote task list. It reminds me of all the weekly business tasks that I need to get done, both large and small. You could use it to make a grocery list or help organize a project. You can even share and collaborate on notes.
With Evernote, all of your scraps, notes and ideas can be streamlined and saved into one system and found with a quick search. If you get the Evernote App, it's also on your phone and ipad! From packing lists to business plans, Evernote holds it all.
Did I mention Evernote is free? Once you download it, check out their great tutorials. If you're not sure where to start, schedule a session and we can tackle it together!
Creative Spaces for Kids
Kids are prolific artists! The painting, the gluing, the drawing! It's wonderful to see our child engrossed in making art, but perhaps it's not so wonderful to see the dining room table covered with glitter glue.
There is a solution. Whether it's a table in the corner of the kitchen or a whole room, let them have a space to unleash their creativity.
Gather & Purge. The first step is to gather all the art supplies in one place and purge, purge, purge! Keep what they need and take the rest to SCRAP.
Get the Essentials. You don't need much to create an art area. I suggest a table, a few chairs, pen/pencil holders, and a place to hold supplies like paper, coloring books and stickers. Get some inspiration from my Kid Art Areas Pinterest board.
Create a Gallery. Kids love to see their work displayed! The fridge is fine, but two of my favorite ways of displaying art is on a clothesline and in hinged frames. Have fun making art together!
So many of my clients have beautiful jewelry they would love to wear, but don't because it's in a tangled mess. If this sounds like you, here are some steps you can take to remedy the situation.
1) Purge. Take everything out and assess. Ten pairs of hoop earrings? Broken necklaces? Clear out everything you don't love and donate or sell it.
2) Store. Next, look at my Pinterest board about Jewelry Organizing to give you some ideas about storing your favorites. Could you use drawer inserts, or a tree stand? Pick one or two and go for it. Maybe now that all the excess is gone, the storage you have works perfectly!
3) Organize. This is the fun part! Organize all of your favorites into your new system. Remember to maintain the system by putting things back after you wear them. Be prepared to feel fabulous!
Erin Becker is the owner of PICK IT UP, a
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