Do you have a goal that you’d like to make a reality in 2022? Maybe you’d like to start a new business, prioritize your health, or clear clutter? Coaching can help — it gets you in touch with your intentions and helps create positive change through awareness and accountability. If you’re new to coaching, learn more here.
This January, you could be one of three people to enjoy the benefits of coaching for free! Enter for your chance to receive two 60-minute coaching sessions — just fill out this entry form by Monday, January 17. I’ll contact the finalists to set up a time to begin coaching.
This coaching offer is open to everyone — current clients, past clients, and those who are new to Pick It Up! Please note that these aren’t organizing sessions.
I am still offering in-person organizing for San Francisco residents and virtual organizing for clients near and far.
Wishing you a wonderful New Year!
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!
I recently learned about the 5 Second Rule. Have you heard of this one? No, it doesn't involve dropped food. It's a concept created by motivational speaker Mel Robbins that states "if you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it."
Robbins says "If you do not take action on your instinct to change, you will stay stagnant. You will not change." Of course, we know this is true, but how do we get ourselves to act?
As Robbins explains, research shows that 40% of our day is spent on repetitive behaviors. We're on autopilot and our actions are based on habit. Some of these habits are helpful (brushing your teeth) some not so helpful (scrolling through Facebook). When our day is full of unhealthy habits or habits we are not actively choosing, life can start to feel out of control.
Robbins says "by taking actions that make you feel in control of your life, your life will literally begin to change in every single way. As you use the Rule, you cultivate what researchers call an “internal locus of control,” which means that you believe you have control over your outcomes and future success. "
I decided to start using the 5 Second Rule. When it occurred to me to reach out to an old friend, instead of letting the thought evaporate, I sent her a quick email. When I thought about fixing something that was broken, I got up and put it down on my to-do list. When I considered going to virtual boot camp, I opened up my dresser drawer and started putting on my workout clothes. I had to admit, it seemed to be working.
As the last year has taught us, much of life is out of our control. But our own behaviors and reactions to life need not be. When we act on our good instincts, we build our belief in our ability to create change in our life. This creates a positive feedback loop. Our positive actions lead to a greater belief in ourselves which leads to more positive actions.
So, the next time you have a thought about a positive action in your life, physically act on it within 5 seconds. Give it a try and let me know how it goes! You can read more about Mel Robbins and the 5 Second Rule at melrobbins.com.
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, by Mason Currey
Title: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
Author: Mason Currey
Publisher: Knopf (April 23, 2013)
SYNOPSIS (from back cover)
"Writers, composers, painters, choreographers, sculptors, filmmakers and scientists on how they create (and avoid creating) their creations."
Nikola Tesla worked until midnight, breaking only for a highly ritualized solo dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria. Georgia O'Keeffe liked to watch the sunrise with a cup of tea, take the dogs for a walk, then spend the rest of her day in her studio. Charles Schultz took his kids to school and settled down in his backyard studio to draw comic strips for the day, stopping only to have a ham sandwich for lunch.
Mason Currey's book Daily Rituals is a fascinating compilation of the daily routines of over 150 creative individuals. The book is an easy read, with each entry just a page or so long, and giving the essence of the subject's routines and creative habits. From stoic solitude to nights of debauchery, the routines cover it all. It's clear there is no one routine that works for all creative individuals. Creativity, as well as creative routines, comes in many forms.
It's interesting to pull back the curtain on these luminaries and see how they actually created their work amid other obligations, what they were frustrated with, and how their habits changed over time. I recommend this book if you are a creative individual seeking time and space to express your creativity in this world of obligations.
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!
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!
Many of us have heard of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) but have you heard of JOMO? It stands for Joy of Missing Out. I'm not what you would call cutting-edge. I often have no idea what the latest trend, cat video or show is. When I first heard of JOMO on the Note to Self podcast, I thought "Yes! That's me!"
With JOMO we can dive deeply into the present moment. That can mean having focused and productive work time or a truly rejuvenating (and phone-free) walk in the park. Read on for some ideas on how to 'miss out' a bit more and tap into your now.
So much of our time is spent posting (or checking) updates, catching up on news (or non-news) and compulsively checking (and re-checking) email. Technology is a fact of life, but our repetitive and mindless interactions with it don't have to be. I love helping clients be more purposeful and intentional with their time, that includes time online. Below are a few strategies for gaining control of your relationship with technology.
Single Task! Research shows that we are not capable of multitasking, we just switch from one task to another really quickly. When we multitask our productivity goes down as our level of distraction goes up. Start single-tasking. Do one thing, finish it and move on. It can be hard at first, given our instant-response culture, but it is so worth it.
Turn Off Notifications. You look at your phone and see red dots on every app, letting you know everything you are missing out on. Do you really intend to read them? Do you even care about them? Turn them off and breath a sigh of relief the next time you look at your phone. This goes for your desktop as well.
Say "Night-Night" to Technology. Pick a time in the evening that you will stop engaging with technology and stick with it. Let's say it's 8 PM. That means, no checking email, no Facebook updates, no Twitter, no news. On the same note, start your day with breakfast, coffee and a few minutes of peace, not that 6 AM email. The world will not end. Really!
If you want to go further into the idea of engaging intentionally with technology check out the Infomagical Challenge on the Note to Self podcast. I found it very insightful. Of course, I am always here to help you through your productivity and technology challenges!
Erin Becker is the owner of PICK IT UP, a
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