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06 Feb

Enjoy nature and make fewer mistakes

Datum: 2017-02-06 16:17

Some­times tru­ly chal­leng­ing tasks fall into our lap and we have to put all our resources to use to solve them. These tasks can be men­tal­ly tir­ing and take a lot of time to fin­ish. But to many of us, these tasks — the ones for which we have to mobi­lize all our com­pe­tence and skill — are also the ones we enjoy the most. They make us feel com­pe­tent and alive, and their con­tents might in a nut­shell rep­re­sent the rea­son why we got into this line of work in the first place.

When some­thing is chal­leng­ing and dif­fi­cult, it is easy to make mis­takes, and when we do make a mis­take, we have to go back and cor­rect it. This takes time — extra time we might not feel we have and which we would much rather spend on oth­er things than redo­ing work. What can we then do to ensure we get things right the first time when doing some­thing demand­ing? Per­haps recent­ly released research from Aus­tralia will give us a clue.

Gray or green
Kate Lee at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mel­bourne let 150 peo­ple do a com­pli­cat­ed task involv­ing many dif­fer­ent steps. Halfway through the task the par­tic­i­pants were allowed a micro-break of 40 sec­onds dur­ing which they were asked to look at an image. Half of the group were giv­en an image of a gray con­crete sur­face and the oth­er half the image of a blos­som­ing, green sum­mer mead­ow. They then returned to solv­ing the dif­fi­cult task.

Mead­ow scored higher
What hap­pened? Well, those who observed the beau­ti­ful mead­ow made remark­ably few­er errors dur­ing the sec­ond half of the exer­cise com­pared to those who had looked at a con­crete sur­face. After hav­ing done two addi­tion­al tests, Lee con­clud­ed that we increase our focus and abil­i­ty to con­cen­trate con­sid­er­ably if we look at a pic­ture of nature as com­pared to one of con­crete — even if it is only dur­ing such a brief pause as 40 sec­onds. Why? Well, who knows. If you want to dig deep­er into Kate Lee’s study and results, you will find it here.

Do this
If you want to put Lee’s method to the test and see for your­self if it helps you make few­er mis­takes, then find a pic­ture of nature you like. Hang it where you can eas­i­ly see it while work­ing or make it into your com­put­er desk­top, and it will be eas­i­ly acces­si­ble (as long as you do not fill your com­put­er desk­top with doc­u­ments and icons, that is).

Or, if you should feel inspired to, get your­self to a beau­ti­ful loca­tion and take some snaps of the mag­nif­i­cent land­scape yourself.

If you want to, give your­self a chal­lenge to take at least one beau­ti­ful pic­ture dur­ing the next month that you will enjoy rest­ing your gaze on for 40 sec­onds or more when­ev­er you need to sharp­en your focus and concentration.

I keep a pic­ture I took of Eagle Lake dur­ing our trip to Lake Tahoe last sum­mer as my com­put­er desk­top back­ground — and I did well before hear­ing of Kate Lee’s research, just because I enjoy look­ing at the pic­ture so much. If you have been at one of my more recent lec­tures you will have seen the pic­ture I am refer­ring to. If it has made you more con­cen­trat­ed how­ev­er, I will let you decide.

Anoth­er idea that is sim­ple yet effec­tive, is to take a short walk in nature close to where you work or live dur­ing a break.

Flo­ra and fau­na sharp­ens our senses
If we are to trust the results Kate Lee obtained, then we do best to either see or get into nature some­time dur­ing our work­day. The beau­ty is that we do not have to work in the coun­try­side to enjoy the pos­i­tive effects, appar­ent­ly it is enough with a sim­ple pic­ture. A great oppor­tu­ni­ty of get­ting more focus and con­cen­tra­tion with vir­tu­al­ly zero effort!

What’s your way?
How could you get more nature into your every­day life? Write a com­ment and tell your sto­ry or share your tips.