How do you pay more attention to detail?

3 words:

1. Practice
2. Practice
3. Practice

Experience and memory retention goes a long way also.

There is no real easy way to learn; either you have the ability naturally, you have the ability to learn it, or you'll always be clueless. The Navy recognizes that most people aren't detail oriented when they first join; that's one of the major functions of Boot Camp, and why they rag on you for getting your bedsheets folded right, uniforms squared away, barracks spotless, etc. When you get used to being punished for missing details, you quickly learn to start paying attention a lot more to the way things are supposed to be. 50% of BT is learning how to pay attention to details.

In the real world, it's actually pretty easy if you know how. Everything has some type of procedure, regulation, rule, i.e., the way it's supposed to be. By studying how things are supposed to be done the correct way, it's a lot easier to determine what's out of place. Of course studying and memory retention are a large part of it, but as I said, if you practice long enough it eventually comes naturally, to the point where you start irritating people around you who aren't as detail oriented.

Most people tend to take at face value what they're told, even if it's wrong. That's because they don't know, don't have the experience, or haven't studied something to learn if what they're being told is actually the truth or not. Even today, with the instant information available via the 'net, I still find bad information being repeated on sites, simply because people don't bother to really research and find out for themselves if the information is good or not.

One way they used to drill us in Quality Assurance was to give us several paragraphs of text to proofread, and also to see how much we could remember. You can start by proofing your own typing/writing in emails; when you finish, don't use a spell checker, but go back to see how well you actually did.

You can also proofread the stuff you read online; these days it's hard to find anything that doesn't have spelling or grammar errors, missing text, double words, etc.

I remember years ago when my daughter was in school, she stopped bringing her homework to me to proofread. Eventually though, she started learning, and today she's a lot more detail oriented when it comes to her line of work.