What do “The Four Stages of Competence” and “Eliminating Distractions” have in common?
How many times have you looked at the clock only to realize it’s noon and you haven’t accomplished one item on your task list?
On your way into your office you set the goal to work on X, however, here it is 3 hours later, and you still haven’t accomplished your “#1 most important task”!
In fact, you aren’t even sure WHAT you were doing for the last 3 hours,
AND your not sure what happened to get you off track.
According to Wikipedia, “the four stages of competence, or the “conscious competence” learning model, relates to the psychological states involved in the process of progressing from incompetence to competence in a skill”
“Losing” 3 hours when you go into your office – would be ‘incompetent’ distraction management. Focusing on the most important task, and completing this task, represents ‘competent’ distraction management.
How do you move from incompetence to competence in areas of time management?
Referencing the same Wikipedia page, let’s look closely at the four stages of competence.
- Unconscious incompetence
- The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.
- Conscious incompetence
- Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.
- Conscious competence
- The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.
- Unconscious competence
- The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.
The first step towards eliminating distractions and focusing on what really matters is AWARENESS!!!
When you walk into your office intent on working towards completion of your #1 priority – and at the end of the day you still haven’t accomplished this goal – and think, “oh well, tomorrow will be different” – you are in the stage of unconscious incompetence. You don’t know what you don’t know!
Next, you start to move into the stage of conscious incompetence. You know you want to focus on your number one priority! You realize at noon that you still haven’t completed THE MOST IMPORTANT THING on your list, and you have identified that this is a problem. You also have some idea of what derailed you at the beginning (you checked your email, which led you down a rabbit trail of additional tasks . . . pulling you further and further from your priorities.) You recognize that you need to do things differently, you just aren’t sure how!
Which leads you to conscious competence. Eliminating distractions is a focus when you enter the office. You begin to build awareness around what distractions are, how you are going to build structure around stopping them, and what obstacles may stand in your way. This stage is difficult. Some days you are a MASTER time manager, others you wonder what happened?!
Finally, after much thought and practice, you enter into the unconscious competence stage. Nirvana! Each day you walk into your office and focus on your #1 task without difficulty. Phone calls, emails, people, dogs, sunshine, computers – none of these distractions derail you. You are the master of your domain – and it shows!
Are you frustrated by distractions?
What should you do?
In order to eliminate the distraction – you must know what is distracting you! Is it email? Is it phone calls? Is it ’emergency’ interruptions from family members? Is it all 3, plus 10 additional things?