I know I am not the only one whose thoughts are someplace else while I am doing a task. Isn't multitasking how to get more things done? I sit down to draw the landscape as we drove through the farmland upstate New York, from memory! I try to recall all of the details of the look on my brother's face when we were speaking of the death of a beloved aunt and the ongoing difficulties in the lives of her surviving siblings.
Yes, I could take a photograph, but I feel the need to remind and retrain my mind to observe very carefully. I want to use, but not be dependent upon, a technical device, like a camera or computer to BE my memory.
I am using the example of painting and drawing because that is what I do, and it is so hands on that it is easy to understand. It is also a combination of physical and mental multitasking. But there are many ways and reasons to practice and improve observation skills. No matter what you do for a living good observation skills are an important part of doing good work, don't you think? Here is how!
- Begin by choosing one thing a day to remember: a conversation, a scene, a book or article that you read, a recipe, etc.
- Be present in the now moment. Relax and allow yourself to use your senses to take in all of the unique qualities of what you feel, see and hear.
- After observing the event or scene reflect on what you would like to remember about it. Make connections between what you already know and this new memory.
- Write it down or draw it, preferably in a portable journal without judgement of yourself. Just put it down!
- Be grateful for the gift of experiencing the moment.
Observe and record in a visual, written or auditory way, daily and it will become a habit that will increase your confidence in your powers of observation and visualization!
Let me know how this works for you. I know that if I make a concerted effort to image a detailed memory, I can gradually expand it to two or even three a day. I just need to articulate it in words or a visual to reinforce it.
This is a great way to gather material and ideas for making things and for making things happen.!
Simplifying your focus is eloquently explored by Michael Nobbs /The Blog: Drawing Inspiration. I am inspired by his simple and honest posts.
Here is an other concept about doing two things at once from Ali Hale in Productive Flourishing, by combining a mental task with a physical task.