Category Resources

The Science of Learning: Focused and Diffuse Thinking

Have you ever felt stuck while studying? When students feel like they have hit an academic wall, it is difficult to know what to do next. In times past, psychologists and other experts tended to suggest that the best path forward was to buckle down and intensely focusing on subject matter for long periods at a time. However, recent research suggests otherwise.

Focused and Diffuse Thinking: An Analogy

Cognitive experts have identified that the human brain utilizes two processes when learning new information:  focused and diffuse thinking.  In order to understand the way these processes work, it helps to use an analogy. Picture a pinball machine. In this game, you pull a plunger and release it, sending a ball into the game table to bounce off rubber bumpers and score points. The areas of the game table where the rubber bumpers are close together represent focused thinking.

The ball – our thoughts – bounce around within a limited area very quickly. We think attentively and concentrate only on information that is pertinent to the subject matter at hand. Conversely, in areas of the game table where rubber bumpers are spaced more widely is representative of diffuse thinking, where thoughts are somewhat random and unrestricted.

The Brain Utilizes Both Processes to Learn

It may seem that focused and diffuse ways of thinking are polar opposites of each other. As it turns out, they work in tandem.  Learning is most effectively accomplished when students use both processes within the same study session.

Cognitive scientists suggest that the best way to master new material is to start out dedicating about 20-25 minutes reading and understanding the material in an intensely focused manner without distraction. Then switch to diffuse mode for at least 15 minutes by taking a break and letting the mind wander.

Diffuse thinking tends to encourage the internalization of subject matter by making new and creative connections to previously learned material. Experts agree that repeating this sequence two or three times in one study session effectively solidifies information in the brain.

In order to learn, you might think that you need to spend hours of focused mental energy pouring over study material. However, it turns out that your brain utilizes two types of thinking to most effectively learn. No doubt, blocks of time devoted to intense focus are necessary, but you also need rest periods within the same study session.  It’s the alternation between focused and diffuse mode that enables your brain to make information really stick and quality learning to take place.

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The Advantages of Using Photoshop Overlays

No matter how many techniques photographers can use to edit their photos, one of the most effective to completely transform a photo is to add an overlay.

Adding an overlay can easily transform an ordinary photo into a very special one by adding a light flare, glimmer, sky replacement overlay, or other essential actions to help your workflow thrive!

The Advantages of Using Photoshop Overlays

Long gone are the days when the only ways to professionally edit a photo were to spend hours in the darkroom or to be a Photoshop master.

Now Photoshop overlays can come in handy when you want to transform your images. With a few clicks, you can create a beautiful work of art and differentiate your projects from any other.

Here you have some transformation examples:

Glimmers:
Glimmers Photo Overlay

Light Flare:
Light Flare Photo Overlay

Newborn Actions Collection:
Newborn Action Photo Overlay width=

Lotus:
Lotus Photo Overlay

Floridian Skies:
Floridian Skies Photo Overlay

Photoshop overlays are very easy to use. Basically, all you have to do is drag and drop the textures in the Layers palette and then apply them to your images. Then, of course, you can continue to play with the levels of opacity, light, shadows, contrast, and make the overlays more or less obvious.The more photo tools you have to experiment with, the better.

How Photoshop Overlays Can Help You

  • Save your time

It is much faster to choose from thousands of ready-to-use textures that you can find online than to create them by yourself. There’s no need to walk around taking countless photos of sunsets, pavement and peeling paint.

  • Ease your work

You will add not only value to your creative designs but also a certain something that will make your projects different from any other, easier than ever.

  • Cut the limits of your imagination and creativity

They are versatile, with numerous areas of ready to use textures and designs that you can try and make everything look professional in a minute.
It can be incredibly handy to have many different photo overlays to choose from, because you may have to go through several to find the one that is the perfect fit for your photo.

  • Make quick and better decisions

Overlays can be a very helpful tool for professional photographers if they are deciding to show options to their clients. For example, professional photographers can display to their clients these different overlays so that they have a range of looks to choose from.

Try different effects on your photos, play around with ideas and let your imagination fly. If you want, you can try our Seasalt Overlays Bundle deal and see all by yourself.

WebToolHub: InkyDeals Ambassador Overview

This week it’s time for yet another InkyDeals Ambassador site overview. This weeks’ mention goes to WebToolHub.

As its name says, WebToolHub offers all the tools a web professional needs to understand where their internet property stands. From SEO and Rank checking tools to graphic resources, articles, and plugins for webmasters, the website has everything you want and need on the topic.

Speaking of articles, Web Tool Hub also has a very extensive collection of tutorials and other informative pieces that are sure to come in handy no matter what job you are undertaking on the web.

When you find yourself in need of web tools or resources this site is surely one of the first places to visit. Even more so now that you can find more of our exclusive deals and sales on it.  

5 Ways To Boost Your Creative Flow When Working From Home

When you work in an office and a manager oversees your work and keeps the production flowing, creativity comes easily. This type of management allows you the luxury of doing your assigned job and go home. If you are a self-employed individual, however, you are responsible for maintaining your creative flow.

Many self-employed people have their own office spaces to go to every day. Their creativity usually stems from social interaction. If you’re working from home with little client interaction, creative flow can become a problem. Although it helps focus your creativity, isolation quickly becomes an issue without proper self-management.

How do you maintain your creative drive while working from home?

1.  Expand Your Skills

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Someone who designs jewelry, for example, will use a set of techniques and materials on a regular basis. At some point, those designs and skills will become stale to them and their customers. The moment they lose interest, their work starts to suffer and find it harder to continue. This is true of any skill that loses its appeal.

When you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, try changing it up by learning new skills. Grab a technique book or take an online course or local class that adds to your existing skills. You will boost your creativity, even if you never incorporate them into your repertoire.

2. Explore Your Counterparts

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Regardless of what type of creative work you engage in, there are others out there doing the same thing. And given today’s social media reach, it is relatively easy to connect with them. You can gain a lot of inspiration, tips and much more by talking to other people who understand you.

If you paint, visit a local gallery. If you are a photographer, you may find local photos hanging in the halls of your city’s art university. You can stop by a local photography studio or camera shop and talk with the owner. Writers can drop in on a local book signing or join writing get-togethers. Conversely, a jewelry designer can visit area boutiques or small businesses for inspiration.

There are always places you can go where you can meet up with others who share your passion for your art. Apart from helping your creativity, social interactions are also beneficial to your overall health and well-being.

3. Take a Break

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Creativity is a fickle mistress and the harder you try, the more elusive it becomes. That’s why it’s better to take breaks away from your creations. This is more effective when you already know what motivates you. If you are a fan of music, find a place to listen to good live music. If you like sports, go to a sporting event, even if it is a kid’s baseball game in the middle of the afternoon.  

Since you work for yourself, you are not constrained by a boss that expects you to churn out a product. Breaks help you detach from the task and regroup your thought process. Often the greatest flashes of inspiration happen when you are operating subconsciously. Taking your mind off work might be the best thing for your project.

4. Solve Puzzles and Challenges

 

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The mind is a muscle just like your heart, and as your heart, it needs exercise.  Studies have indicated that solving puzzles or challenges keep the brain from aging. While most of these studies are still in their infancy, it’s not surprising that brain stimulation is so important. After all, creative people thrive on puzzles and challenges.

Even a few minutes of penciling in the answers to a crossword puzzle or filling in a Sudoku puzzle can give the brain a place to relax and recenter. If you find yourself stalled on a project, grab a word search puzzle and start looking for words. You’ll be exercising your brain and increasing future productivity all at the same time.

5. Engage in physical activity

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An artist can spend hours in one spot working on a painting or a specific design. All that time spent in one place can take a toll on the body and the mind. A tired mind can no longer find the motivation needed to finish a project or start a new one. It needs to be refreshed.

Physical activity keeps the body healthy while letting the brain rest and energise. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests that staying in shape reduces the risk of mental illness. Besides, what better way to boost your creativity than a few miles down the local trail or a dip in the pool or ocean?

If you are not fond of the gym, you can take a walk and admire the sights or jump on your bicycle and ride around the city. The point is to get the body moving and let the brain rest.

When you find yourself stuck in the middle of a project, your brain may just need a diversion to rejuvenate. These suggestions will help you get back to your creative state. They’ll also help your physical and mental health.

What is your favourite thing to do when you lack the creative state to get the job done? Tell us in the comment section below.