I love this post and these comments!
@susanhewitt hit the big one about slowing down. Having a “sit spot” is a classic naturalist practice, returning to the same place regularly and holding still. You’ll notice seasonal changes and probably observe critters that you would have flushed if you were moving.
Shifting perspective from micro to macro, unfocusing your eyes, refocusing, scanning, closing your eyes… there are tons of thing you can do to play with your physical observation to help you notice different kinds of things. Think about the kind of way you look when you are watching wind playing across a field versus when you are trying to identify a distant bird in a tree. One of those ways of looking is going to have a better chance to spot an ant colony than the other. Our brain is built to recognize patterns!
The best way to see more, though , it counter intuitive, but you already recognized it @anukma! Read. Learn. Thoreau observed that he would read about a plant and know that he had never seen it on his prolific walks, but the moment he had read about it, there it was! Right where he had walked just yesterday, as it it had now sprung from his mind. In C. S. Lewis’s Out Of the Silent Planet, the protagonist goes to a new planet, and Lewis describes how he couldn’t truly see things in it because he had not understanding of it, and one can hardly see what one does not understand. It’s the “new car” phenomenon, where you have never noticed a certain model on the road, but as soon as you buy one it is suddenly everywhere.
This was the story of my last season. I periodically reviewed my botanical literature, kept an eye on what people were posting in my area on iNat, and learned the diagnostics required to distinguish certain species in my range. What happened? I saw more than I ever have. More importantly, I was thrilled on my walks and rides more than I ever had been. My iNat observations are a record of my moments of delight. More than once I nearly flipped over my handlebars when I saw a flash of color out of the corner of my eye.