I’ve found the following activities enhance the power of observation. Don’t be surprised if, after practicing them for a while, your intuition skills will be improved, too. Increases in both observation and intuition help us become more aware in general, smarter and more effective in our relationships and in our job performance.
- Meditate. Sit quietly for fifteen to sixty minutes each day, focusing on your breath and being aware of the present moment. When you notice a thought coming in, acknowledge the thought and go back to focusing on your breath moving in and out of your body. As you go about your day’s activities, remember to take a deep breath at least once an hour, to practice your focus and attention skills. When you’re stopped in traffic, keep your attention on your environment and focus on your breath for about half a minute. This helps bring your mind back to scheduling meditation time with yourself and keep you relaxed. Meditation helps you train your mind to pay attention to the environment, honing your attention and focus, two highly important skills needed for observation.
- Question Everything and Practice Logic Skills. When your intuition tells you something isn’t right, listen to that. Take this a step further and pretend everything you’ve ever been told is wrong and question everything. Conduct your own independent investigation concerning topics that continue to get your attention. Since logic was removed from our schools in the mid19th century, we need to teach ourselves logic skills. Find some logic games http://www.logic-puzzles.org/ and practice with them. Study the Trivium, http://www.triviumeducation.com/trivium/, which was in our educational system centuries ago. Through daily practice, the art of logic will become natural and easy, allowing you to extract information not presented to the naked eye.
- Enhance Your Memory. Memory is another tool used in observation to retain information. At night, instead of going back in your mind to when you woke up and reviewing the day, remember the moment just before you sat down to practice your memory skills and go back in reverse chronological order to when you woke up that morning. Note places in the day wherein you could have acted in a more constructive way, going easy on yourself, and commend yourself at points in which you exceled in your responses. For further improvement, practice utilizing your long-term memory once a week by selecting a date or event and recalling as many details of that date or event as possible. Working with thoughts in this manner helps one extract more information from daily experiences and gain more perspective from past events. Practicing this exercise can help with forethought, too, helping you stay alert in the present moment to perceive more possibilities in the future.
- Experience New Things. Experiencing new things helps to improve observation by engaging your attention. Then you can take it to the next level by consciously choosing to pay close attention to the details of the people, environment and everything else involving the experience. Doing so helps enrich your experiences, improve memory and increase knowledge. You may want to record details of your experiences on a computerized device or notebook to help you remember to observe your new experiences and to check back on what you observed. Pay attention to details you could notice in the future to improve your observation skills. Really pay attention to each aspect of the new experience and choose to experience at least one new thing each week.
- Test your observational skills. Review your observational journal and see what memories of events return that you didn’t record. Then take your journal and walk out of the room. Write down everything you can remember that was in the room. When done with your list, go back into the room and look around, observing everything closely. Notice all the things that did not make it on your list. Now leave the room again and repeat the process. See how your list got longer. Then go out into the world and find different ways to note detail when you leave a room, e.g., how many faces there were in the company break room at lunch time, how many dogs you see at a park, how many green shirts you saw. You can use this exercise with any item(s) that contain a lot of detail.