Everyone knows you’re supposed to stop and smell the roses every now and again, but if you really want to improve your observational powers it might be a good idea to sketch that rose out as well. In fact, Time Magazine recommends taking field notes throughout the day to better track your day.
Image: Geek Calendar.
Most people are casual observers at work or in life. It’s not a bad thing, but as scientists note, “seeing is not observing”. When you sketch or write something out you’re making an active choice as to what to include and that means you’re actively making decisions about what’s important. Time explains:
First, scientists train their attention, learning to focus on relevant features and disregard those that are less salient. One of the best ways to do this is through the old-fashioned practice of taking field notes: writing descriptions and drawing pictures of what you see.
So what use could this have in your daily life? Keeping notes helps you quantify data. That data might be a sales floor, a conference room, or you daily routine. The point is that you’re actively breaking down the minutiae of what happens and analysing it instead of just letting it pass by your eyes. Time suggests two ways to make use of it in an office setting:
Try attaching a number to each episode you observe: how many times a customer picks up an item before deciding to buy it, how many minutes employees spend talking about office politics before getting down to business.
The difference between a casual observer and an expert is pretty simple. While the novice takes a note and then moves on, the expert returns and analyses that information. If you’re looking for a way to boost your powers of observation then keeping field notes seems like a pretty good tactic. Have your own tips for better processing the world around you? Share you ideas in the comments.