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Four mental foibles we all cherish – and how to get rid of them.

Four mental foibles we all cherish – and how to get rid of them.

    As human beings, we have a natural wish to improve ourselves, and are always looking for ways to be more efficient, focused and fulfilled. However, we also have the opposite tendency to cherish certain limitations that prevent us from achieving these exact things! Let’s go into four of these limitations in detail.

    1. Imagining the worst possible future.

    When something bad happens, our mind often has a tendency to compound it by projecting forward into the future and imagining the worst thing that could happen as a result. Such a course of action can be very tempting, especially if we can portray ourselves as a victim and wallow in self-pity as a result. However, if we can look back on times when we have done this (and we all have at some stage) we can see that these nightmare scenarios have nothing to do with reality. Perhaps that’s where the saying “Cheer up, it will never happen” comes from – because it does never happen!

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    A very influential psychological model developed by Weiner et al. in the 1970’s suggested that the happiest people are those who see bad things that happen to them as impermanent and changeable events rather than situations that are going to persist forever. That indeed is the key – to try to see any bad situation that happens to you as part of a larger picture that sure enough contains a lot of bad, but a lot of good things too. One very useful exercise can be to visualise all the good things in your life, and to offer a feeling of gratitude that each of them are there. This helps to stop any misfortune that occurs from taking over your view of the world completely.

    2. Only seeing others’ bad qualities

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    When we are annoyed with someone, we often tend to bring their bad qualities first and foremost in our minds until they crowd out any good qualities they might have. This can backfire on us in a number of ways. Firstly, we are all imperfect, so holding others up to a perfect standard of behaviour will definitely contribute to the hurt we feel when something happens to bring us face to face with our own imperfections. Secondly, your negative thoughts have an uncanny way of influencing your dealings with that person in such a way that bring those exact negative qualities in them to the fore, and further reinforce the situation.

    You can turn this situation around and gain a more balanced picture of the people you interact with if you can realise the consequences listed above and how harmful they can be to your wellbeing. Try to feel what a waste of energy dwelling on what a bad person someone is and begin a new resolution to focus your attention on the things that matter.

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    3. Feeling we have all the time in the world.

    One common mental failing is imagining that we have infinite time at our disposal. We wake up in the morning with a full day ahead of us, and then reached the evening with nothing much done and wondering where all the time went! We have to value time as a very precious resource. ‘Morning shows the day’, so the saying goes, but very often we tend to start the day engaged in ‘pseudo-work’ like checking emails. But instead, if we can buckle down and get a concrete task done first thing in the morning, we will gain a momentum to move onto the next task. If your mind is creating some apprehension about a big task you have to do, try and start with a little sub-task and imagine you have to do only that. Accomplishing something small – even paying a bill or getting something from the shops – can generate the confidence you need to see the thing through to the finish.

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    4. “I can’t do it…”

    As a child, we were always ready to give anything a try, and we were happy just painting or singing or running without wondering were we any good at it. But as we grow older we develop more fixed ideas about what we are capable of, and we often tend to just summarily decide whether we can or can’t do something before even lifting a finger. But where did we get most of those fixed ideas from? If we look back, we see that most of the time we got them from society and the opinions of other people, or perhaps from one single failure which influenced our attitude for the rest of our lives. When faced with a new opportunity, we need to cast all this baggage aside and just seize the moment.

    Often we reinforce this “can’t do” attitude by watching someone who is expert in a certain field – e.g playing a musical instrument – and feeling that it is too late to start practising ourselves because we will never get up to that level. The key to overcoming your lack of confidence in your ability is to just throw away all expectations of an end goal and let your happiness stem from the simple fact that you have started doing it! All good things in life take some time to perfect, and you will have good days and bad days, but don’t attach too much importance to one or the other; in either case, just be grateful for the opportunity to expand yourself and find out what you are truly capable of.

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    Published on January 7, 2021

    How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

    How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

    Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

    If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

    Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

    You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

    When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

    Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

    In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

    Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

    3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

    Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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    1. Respect deadlines
    2. Understand the work-flow plan
    3. Build in time to mess up

    1. Respect Deadlines

    Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

    One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

    2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

    Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

    3. Build in Time to Mess Up

    You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

    Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

    For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

    Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

    This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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    Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

    Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

    Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

    When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

    12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

    Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

    1. Learn to Listen Well

    You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

    Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

    2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

    Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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    3. Follow Rules

    Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

    4. Take Notes

    Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

    5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

    When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

    As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

    6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

    If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

    7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

    English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

    8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

    Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

    9. Minimize Distractions

    It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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    If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

    10. Take Breaks

    It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

    11. Make Time for Reflection

    At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

    12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

    This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

    Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

    Final Thoughts

    Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

    When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

    More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

    Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

    Reference

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