Before reading this article entirely, I want you to take a look out of the window, or just observe your surroundings. Especially try to make use of your attention to detail. The more different things you can notice, the better!
Now, close your eyes and try to paint the complete picture.
What did you notice, what can you remember?
To make a guess, you can probably remember the most obvious characteristics.
Big buildings, impressive architecture, the interesting shape of a tree, people acting in unusual ways. Anything that sticks out.
Moreover, you might notice more detailed objects, things you have some sort of connection with.
Perhaps you see your favorite car model parked down the road.
Or maybe you see those new headphones you and your friends talked about recently.
However, if you take another look out of the window, there is an almost unlimited amount of details you didn’t even register the first time.
Engravings or graffiti on the walls, The different colors of people’s clothing, birds flying by. Just to name a few examples.
Sure, part of the failure to reconstruct the picture as a whole is due to the small time you looked at it in the first place.
Furthermore, our cognitive faculties can only intake so much at one time.
Moreover, the big majority of these details are not only uninteresting, but they are also not important at all.
This is the reason why our brain filters the overload of information we are exposed to every day. Making sure we only remember, and perceive, the ones that might turn out to have some sort of impact or relevance.
Now you already might think about why missing out on all these details is a bad thing, to begin with.
If our brain has this amazing ability to filter through everything that enters our view and pick out the most relevant information, why would we even want to notice more details?
How the Amount of Details we notice keeps Shrinking
In modern society, our brains get increasingly cluttered with information. More than ever before.
The number of distractions and possibilities for entertainment are countless.
Everything fights for your attention.
And it’s the world is not slowing down.
In order to deal with this exorbitant information flow, our brain starts to filter more and more details.
Full articles get reduced to TLDR pieces, where the most important facts and figures are listed.
Social media feeds us with huge amounts of small information pieces, one catchier than the other.
Videos and news headlines have a declining rate of the information displayed, sometimes even disconnected from the actual content provided.
Instead, the title’s purpose is becoming to draw in as many clicks and viewers as possible. Using click-bait and false information.
In fact, the rise of the internet in general, and the way we are already connected to it 24/7 through our smartphones gives us limitless content and things to look at.
On top of that, it basically makes boredom yesterday’s concern.
Sounds great right? No one likes to be bored.
However, once you get used to never being bored, you stop being creative with your time, and you stop noticing the little things.
“We are already Cyborgs” – Elon Musk
All of these factors combine forces with our society shifting in a more performance orientated direction.
Schedules get tighter and expectations get higher year by year.
As you can see, there are numerous reasons why our attention to detail is on a downward path.
Benefits of Noticing more Details
After all, why should you care about increasing your awareness of detail?
Isn’t the fact that our brain does not recognize these details as important reason enough to dismiss them?
There are still very attractive benefits that come with these details.
Not with all of them, but with a lot more than you might think.
In any social setting, details can make or break your ability to analyze and deduct the situation, and act accordingly.
To illustrate this, I will provide an example.
You meet one of your co-workers after work, let’s name him Tim, and have a chat with him. You shift your attention to identifying details and notice that he has a new watch and compliment him on it. You talk a little bit about the features and why he made the choice to get this specific model.
As you can see in this very simple example, instead of having a generic conversation about the weather, or how work sucks, you had a more personal conversation.
A conversation about a topic he put a lot of thought and even money in recently.
This will do a number of things
- It makes Tim feel confirmed in his choice of the watch. Probably rising his mood for the rest of the day or even week.
- It tightens your relationship. By having this conversation, you stick out from everyone else.
- It makes Tim feel special.
- It makes Tim like you. People like to talk about themselves and what is recently going on their lives.
- It will make him spread the good word of mouth about you.
Even though the only thing it took was noticing a small change in Tim’s appearance, there is serious potential for that to snowball.
Making you a respected and liked personality among your co-workers.
Now apply this frequently and with multiple co-workers, and you are golden.
Additionally, this can not only be applied to co-workers and your workspace. But rather to anyone, you are interested in having a good relationship with.
Other social uses are
- Better at detecting lies. Noticing cues in facial expressions and finding ways a story does not add up
- Better at figuring out someone’s hidden agenda
Small things can have the biggest impacts!
Professional Benefits of Noticing more Details
Not only is it favorable to gain the sympathy of your friends, family, and other strangers, but the importance of details transcends the personal and social scope.
It will simply improve your quality of work.
Looking at complicated sheets and tables, seeing even slight errors and misplacements reduce the flaws in your own work while increasing the flaws in the work you see from others.
Being quick to point these things out, without being cocky about it, can greatly benefit your career in the long run.
If you are the reason your company can save money, because someone put in the wrong numbers in the wrong folders, you are worth a lot more for the company.
Personal Benefits of Noticing more Details
To complete the list, noticing more details can net your personal benefits, too.
It can spark your curiosity and interest in things you would have missed otherwise.
Like the way watches work.
Additionally, it can awake your fascination for the world we live in.
If you don’t exactly know what I am talking about, the next time you walk through the forest or nature in general, try to switch off your phone.
Have a mindful walk, in which you free your head, live in the moment, and just look around.
You will notice so many more details, shapes, animals, everything.
It’s incredible what amount of complexity and wonderfulness we have in front of our eyes every day, without noticing it.
How to Notice more Important Details every Day
After hopefully convincing you of the power of details, and that you should work on noticing more of them, let’s take a look at how you can increase your attention to detail.
1. Shift your Attention from Distractions to Details
An obvious one to start with, and one that might be the most influential.
Reducing the number of distractions you surround yourself with, will automatically make you more focused on the present situation.
This is the fundament your noticing-skills can be built upon.
If you are busy looking at your phone, even your general perception is reduced, how are you going to notice anything on top of that?
2. Stop Multitasking
Multitasking isn’t the best idea in general.
It makes you perform suboptimally at serval things at once, instead of doing one thing at a time, and doing it excellently.
This already hints at multitasking already overloading your perception capabilities.
Therefore, it will not make you notice more, but rather less.
Meditation offers countless benefits, increasing attention to detail is one.
It will make you more present and mindful in the short and long term.
4. Stay Curious
Ask yourself questions about the small things in life.
Be sure to question anything that seems odd, and get to the bottom of things.
This will, if practiced enough, lead to a habit of wondering about the things you would not even have considered otherwise.
5. Practice makes Perfect
Practice, practice, practice.
Constantly remind yourself that you want to notice more details, and act on it.
No matter where you are or in what type of setting, there are always hidden gems, waiting to be discovered.
When you do it over and over again, you will start picking up the small things here and there, without actively having to think about looking for them.
One good method of practicing is by carrying a block of notes and a pen everywhere you go.
As soon as you find 2-3 minutes to spare, write down particular details in your environment.
6. Improve your Knowledge Base
It is easier and more natural to notice things you already have at least a little bit of knowledge about.
To return back to the example featuring Tim’s new watch, commenting on, and even seeing a new watch, is much easier if you are familiar with different models and brands of watches.
As a layman, you might not see a difference at all.
7. Take Breaks
Re-energizing your brain up to optimal functionality is healthy while boosting its performance in every imaginable aspect.
This includes the amount your brain can perceive, and how much of that will reach your consciousness. Ready to be interpreted.
The importance of Attention to Details is something often overshadowed when looking into ways to improve your overall performance.
However, with the right mindset and knowledge to capitalize on it, noticing more details than others will put you in advantageous positions frequently.
With that in mind, it offers social, professional, and personal benefits.
To train your attention to detail, do the following
- Reduce distractions
- Stop multitasking
- Stay Curious
- Practice, practice, practice
- Improve your Knowledge Base
Have you examples of encounters where a single, tiny detail, helped you to gain an advantage or made you aware of something important?
Leave a comment to engage in the conversation!
Thank you for reading!