Monday, February 24, 2014

Brain exercises to improve creativity and problem solving

Easy Solutions: 

  1. Daily crosswords and puzzles. Simple puzzles like crosswords can help get your brain doing some basic work. These are easy to fit into your day. You can even find some for free online. 
  2. Read as much as you can. Reading is great basic brain exercise. You can read newspapers, magazines or books but just keep in mind that the more challenging the text is, the more of a workout your brain will get. Like any exercise, start small and work your way up. 
  3. Talk with people. Talk with people about things you or they know about. Talking about politics, religion, and other challenging topics (having real discussions, not just arguments), can be a great basic brain workout. 
  4. Write something. Writing requires loads of thinking! You can write made-up stories, write down the things that have happened to you or write articles for wikiHow on the topics you know and love! 
  5.  Turn off the television. Television tells you what to think and how to think it, basically putting your brain on autopilot. That's why it's so relaxing! If you want to keep your brain from stagnating, the first thing you have to do is turn off the tv. If you really want to watch, use your brain while you watch. Choose to watch educational programs and if you watch popular programs, choose ones with complex plot lines or character interactions. Think about these while you watch and try to analyze them or guess what happens next. 

 Heavy Training:

  1. Do larger puzzles. Large, complex puzzles give your brain a stronger workout. These can sometimes take several days to a week to finish but they're worth the effort. This doesn't just mean a puzzle in the traditional sense, either. Check out Japanese pocket puzzles for a serious brain teaser that you can do while you're killing time.
  2. Play video games. Did you know that video games actually make you smarter? Puzzle solving games like Mario, Zelda, Scribblenauts, and Myst are like a good cardio workout for your brain, helping you to become a better problem solver, a more creative problem solver, and a faster thinker.
  3. Learn a new language. Learning a language is like a hack for your brain, opening up all sorts of pathways. This exercises the part of your brain that stores language information, even making you better at speaking your own language.
  4. Pick up a new hobby. Learning a new skill is also a great way to give your brain a workout. Creative skills especially, like music, dance, and visual art, will exercise different parts of your brain and all have incredible benefits.
  5. Build things. Whether you're building robots or a new bench for your hallway, using your brain to figure out how to make something (especially from scratch with no instructions) is a great workout. Get some basic building skills and then get your brain limber with some practical creativity.
Long Term Methods:
  1. Use skills you have frequently. With your brain, much like your muscles, it's kind of a "use it or lose it" situation. The longer you go without using information and skills, the rustier they get. Frequently use basic skills, like doing math, in order to keep those skills fresh and ready to use.
  2. Go back to school. Going back to school is a great way to get that brain working again and more education has obvious benefits. You don't even need to get a whole degree. Your employer may be willing to help you finance classes that further your job skills, or you can just take a single class in a subject that interests you. If you just don't have the money or time, there are also a number of free classes available online. Some are even from top universities, like Harvard. Try Coursera, Khan Academy, or even just Ted Talks to get the university experience, without the price. 
  3. Join an interest group. Join a group or club for people with the same interests as you. This can be a hobby club, a political group, a Bible discussion group, or anything like that. Talking with people with similar interests will get you using your brain and your skills. 
  4. Eat well and exercise. Diet and exercise actually play a role in the health of your brain as well. If you want to keep your brain in peak condition, eat a healthy diet rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids to keep your brain physically fed. Physical exercise can also keep your body healthy, reducing the chance of stroke and increasing oxygen saturation levels. 
  5.  Sleep! Scientists are actually discovering that sleep plays an absolutely vital role in keeping your brain healthy. While you sleep, your body cleans toxins out of your brain (in addition to making repairs) If you want to protect your brain, make sure you get a full night's sleep as regularly as possible. 
Minor Methods:
  1. Increase your vocabulary. Learn new words from a word-a-day calendar or dictionary. This exercises the language portion of your brain. 
  2. Play sports. Learn exercises or how to play new games to increase your hand-eye and body coordination. Tai-chi and pinball are both examples of this. 
  3. Change up your routine. Try commuting with varied routes, to prevent the brain from feeling too neglected as the result of a monotonous day. You can also change how you work, by introducing an exercise ball or other factor into how you work. 
  4. Post-problem solve. Consider the different possibilities of how something in your day could have gone, and explore the consequences. This improves creativity and makes you a better problem solver. 
  5. Switch your dominant hand. Use your left hand if you are right handed, and reverse, to stimulate the parts of your brain that control your muscles.

Compelling Quotes on the Creative Process

For inspiration and quotes on the creative writing process, visit this link:
http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/creative-process

For more creative quotes, visit this link: http://www.notable-quotes.com/c/creativity_quotes.html

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties."-ERICH FROMM



Friday, January 24, 2014

77 Catchy and Creative Slogans

A slogan is an advertising tag-line or phrase that advertisers create to visually expresses the importance and benefits of their product. By and large, it’s a theme to a campaign that usually have a genuine role in people’s lives. It has the ability to loan people’s time and attention by putting consumers at the heart of the solution. Fact is, it is so crucial that companies spend billions onadvertisements around the world to develop a marketing campaign just to achieve a successful brand awareness.
Every day we see millions of messages and catchphrase everywhere from print media to online advertisements. True, there are some slogans that we know by heart but a millions of them have come and gone that we hardly ever noticed. What is it about an advertising slogan that catapults it into fame? Aside from having outstanding brand recall, they have a positive “x” factor that makes us look twice, think thrice and delight the imagination of their target markets and characterize their products in original ways. According to the book "Creative Advertising" by Charles Whittier: "A slogan should be a statement of such merit about a product or service that is worthy of continuous repetitive advertising; is worthwhile for the public to remember; and is phrased in such a way that the public is likely to remember it."

Guidelines To Create Great Slogan

  1. Identification. A good slogan must stay consistent with the brand name either obviously stated or strongly implied. It’s better to include the name of your business to it.
  2. Memorable. Some of the best taglines or slogans are still being used today, even though they were launched several years ago.
  3. Beneficial. Reveal your purpose and benefits of the product by conveying the message in consumer language. Turn bad into good. Suggest the risk of not using the product. Create a positive feeling for the consumers.
  4. Differentiation. In an overcrowded market, companies on the same industry need to set themselves apart thru their creative and original tagline or slogan.
  5. Keep it simple. Use proven words and short keywords. One word is usually not enough.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Eco-Friendly Art Projects

Everynow and then, I'll search the web for fun ideas to get creative.  Today I found several awesome websites with creative art project tutorials. I can't wait to indulge!

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How to make a pizza box into a chalkboard and whiteboard easel:
http://whipup.net/2011/10/01/guest-blogger-series-how-to-make-a-pizza-box-chalkboard-and-whiteboard-easel/

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Tea Party with hand-made purses as take home gifts:
http://www.ikatbag.com/2010/09/tea-party-behind-scenes-cardboard.html

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Great Party Theme Ideas for Kids:
http://www.ikatbag.com/p/parties.html


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Art Projects for Kids:
http://www.artprojectsforkids.org

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Little Birdie Secrets - Tutorial ideas:
http://littlebirdiesecrets.blogspot.com/p/favorite-tutorials.html

A few of my favorites include:
Cupcake Bath bombs
http://littlebirdiesecrets.blogspot.com/2008/11/cupcake-bath-bombs-tutorial.html

Fish in a Bag Soap
http://littlebirdiesecrets.blogspot.com/2008/11/fish-in-bag-soap.html

Embroider your kids artwork
http://littlebirdiesecrets.blogspot.com/2009/03/embroider-your-kids-artwork.html

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Super Easy Headband Holder:
http://www.babymakingmachine.com/2012/02/how-to-make-a-headband-holder-using-oatmeal-cans-what-im-makin-monday.html

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Coffee vs. Beer: Which drink makes you more creative?

What is creativity really?

From a scientific perspective, creativity is your ability to think of something original from connections made between pre-existing ideas in your brain. These connections are controlled by chemicals called neurotransmitters. One of these neurotransmitters is adenosine, which alerts your brain when you’re running out of energy and reacts by slowing down the connections made between neurons by binding to adenosine receptors.  Adenosine is kind of like your brain’s battery status monitor. Once your energy levels get low, adenosine starts to slow your brain functioning down. This is why after a few hours of intense work, you begin to feel tired, like your brain has run out of juice.  The only way to recharge it is to take a break; unless, you’ve got a secret weapon handy.

Your brain on coffee

Every coffee drinker is familiar with the feelings after drinking a fresh cup of java.  I know after I’ve had a latte or espresso, I feel more focused. If I’m having a conversation with someone, words seem to flow without pauses, ums, or ahs.  If I’m writing, my fingers never stop typing. This happens because caffeine blocks adenosine receptors, preventing adenosine from binding to it’s receptors and tricking your brain into thinking you have lots of energy.

This effect happens within just 5 minutes of drinking your coffee.  When adenosine receptors are blocked, chemicals that increase the performance of your neural activity, like glucose, dopamine, and glutamate, are allowed to work overtime.  So while you may feel that coffee is giving you more energy, it’s simply telling your body that your energy reserves are good to go even when they’re long gone.

Coffee is like a bottle rocket

The peak effect of caffeine on your body happens between 15 minutes and 2 hours after you consume it.  When caffeine from your coffee enters your bloodstream, you become more alert from an increase in the production of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol.  The problem is, if this over-stimulation of adrenaline and cortisol occurs too regularly, your adrenal glands, which absorb adrenaline to help make you feel energized, gradually begin to require more adrenaline to give you the same ‘pick-me-up’ feeling as before.

When researchers at Johns Hopkins University looked at low to moderate coffee drinkers (as little as one 14-ounce mug per day), they found that even this little amount of coffee can cause your body to develop a tolerance to caffeine and require more of it to get the same stimulation.
Just like the thrill of lighting a bottle rocket and watching it explode all within a few seconds, the good feelings associated with coffee are short-lived and pretty soon you need another hit to feel good again.

Why there are lots of famous drunk artists, but no famous drunk accountants

While caffeine pulls a number on your brain to make you feel like you have more energy, alcohol has it’s own way of influencing your creativity.  After you’ve had a couple beers, drinking makes you less focused because it decreases your working memory, and you begin to care less about what’s happening around you. But as researchers at the University of Chicago discovered, this can be a good thing for creativity’s sake. The researchers devised a game where 40 men were given three words and told to come up with a fourth that could make a two-word combination with all three words.  For example, the word “pit” works with “arm”, “peach”, and “tar”:

Half of the men drank two pints of beer before playing the game while the other half drank nothing. The results showed that men who drank, solved 40 percent more of the problems than sober men.  It was concluded that a blood alcohol level of 0.07 (about 2 drinks) made the participants better at creative problem-solving tasks but not necessarily working memory tasks where they had to pay attention to things happening in their surroundings (like driving a car).  By reducing your ability to pay attention to the world around you, alcohol frees up your brain to think more creatively.

It looks like author Ernest Hemingway was on to something when he said:
When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky?

Alcohol produces better ideas

In an interesting study on the topic of alcohol and its effects on creativity, author Dave Birss brought together a group of 18 advertising creative directors and split them into two teams based on their amount of career experience.

One team was allowed to drink as much alcohol as they wanted while the other team had to stay sober.
The groups were given a brief and had to come up with as many ideas as they could in three hours. These ideas were then graded by a collection of top creative directors.

The result? The team of drinkers not only produced the most ideas but also came up with four of the top five best ideas.

While alcohol may not be the drink of choice when you need to be alert and focused on what’s going on around you, it seems that a couple drinks can be helpful when you need to come up with new ideas.

A creative prescription: The optimal way to drink coffee and beer

Both coffee and beer (in moderation) have shown to be helpful when you’re working on certain types of tasks, however, you shouldn’t drink either when you need to do detail-oriented or analytical projects like your finances.

The increase in adrenaline from caffeine and inhibition of your working memory from alcohol will make you more prone to make mistakes.

Beer for the idea

The best time to have a beer (or two) would be when you’re searching for an initial idea. Because alcohol helps decrease your working memory (making you feel relaxed and less worried about what’s going on around you), you’ll have more brain power dedicated to making deeper connections.
Neuroscientists have studied the “eureka moment” and found that in order to produce moments of insight, you need to feel relaxed so front brain thinking (obvious connections) can move to the back of the brain (where unique, lateral connections are made) and activate the anterior superior temporal gyrus, a small spot above your right ear responsible for moments of insight:

Researchers found that about 5 seconds before you have a ‘eureka moment’ there is a large increase in alpha waves that activates the anterior superior temporal gyrus.

These alpha waves are associated with relaxation which explains why you often get ideas while you’re going for a walk, in the shower, or on the toilet.

Alcohol is a substance that relaxes you so it produces a similar effect on alpha waves and helping us reach creative insights.

Coffee meanwhile, doesn’t necessarily help you access more creative parts of your brain like a couple pints of beer.

Coffee for the execution

If you’ve already got an idea or an outline of where you want to go with your project, a cup of coffee would do wonders compared to having a beer to execute on your idea.

The general consensus across caffeine studies is that it can increase quality and performance if the task you are doing seems easy to you and doesn’t require too much abstract thinking.

In other words, after you have an initial idea or a plan laid out, a cup of coffee can help you execute and follow through on your concept faster without compromising quality.

Quick tip: If you drink coffee, do so before noon so it doesn’t effect your sleep. On average, it will take between 5-10 hours for the caffeine from a cup of coffee to be removed from your system and messing up your sleep cycle can have a negative impact on your creative output for days to come.

Always in moderation

If you decide to drink coffee and beer while you’re working, you should stick to no more than 2 cups of coffee or a couple beers per sitting and try to do this no more than once or twice per week.
Coffee and beer shouldn’t be thought of as magic bullets for creativity.
They are ways to create chemical changes that occur naturally in your brain with a healthy lifestyle. Quality sleep patterns and allowing yourself to take breaks by splitting your day into sprints will do the same trick.
But, if you have to choose between coffee or beer, think about what type of task you are about to do and make sure you don’t over-drink.
Too much of either and you’ll lose the benefits of both.

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Source:  https://ooomf.com/blog/coffee-vs-beer-effects-on-creativity/



Friday, September 27, 2013

21 Habits of Happy People


“Happiness is a habit – cultivate it.” ~ Elbert Hubbar

Happiness is one aspiration all people share. No one wants to be sad and depressed.

We’ve all seen people who are always happy – even amidst agonizing life trials. I’m not saying happy people don’t feel grief, sorrow or sadness; they just don’t let it overtake their life. The following are 21 things happy people make a habit of doing:

1. Appreciate Life

Be thankful that you woke up alive each morning. Develop a childlike sense of wonder towards life. Focus on the beauty of every living thing. Make the most of each day. Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

2. Choose Friends Wisely

Surround yourself with happy, positive people who share your values and goals. Friends that have the same ethics as you will encourage you to achieve your dreams. They help you to feel good about yourself. They are there to lend a helping hand when needed.

3. Be Considerate

Accept others for who they are as well as where they are in life. Respect them for who they are. Touch them with a kind and generous spirit. Help when you are able, without trying to change the other person. Try to brighten the day of everyone you come into contact with.

4. Learn Continuously

Keep up to date with the latest news regarding your career and hobbies. Try new and daring things that has sparked your interest – such as dancing, skiing, surfing or sky-diving.

5. Creative Problem Solving

Don’t wallow in self-pity. As soon as you face a challenge get busy finding a solution. Don’t let the set backs affect your mood, instead see each new obstacle you face as an opportunity to make a positive change. Learn to trust your gut instincts – it’s almost always right.

6. Do What They Love

Some statistics show that 80% of people dislike their jobs! No wonder there’s so many unhappy people running around. We spend a great deal of our life working. Choose a career that you enjoy – the extra money of a job you detest isn’t worth it. Make time to enjoy your hobbies and pursue special interests.

7. Enjoy Life

Take the time to see the beauty around you. There’s more to life than work. Take time to smell the roses, watch a sunset or sunrise with a loved one, take a walk along the seashore, hike in the woods etc. Learn to live in the present moment and cherish it. Don’t live in the past or the future.

8. Laugh

Don’t take yourself – or life to seriously. You can find humor in just about any situation. Laugh at yourself – no one’s perfect. When appropriate laugh and make light of the circumstances. (Naturally there are times that you should be serious as it would be improper to laugh.)

9. Forgive

Holding a grudge will hurt no one but you. Forgive others for your own peace of mind. When you make a mistake – own up to it – learn from it – and FORGIVE yourself.

10. Gratitude

Develop an attitude of gratitude. Count your blessings; All of them – even the things that seem trivial. Be grateful for your home, your work and most importantly your family and friends. Take the time to tell them that you are happy they are in your life.

11. Invest in Relationships

Always make sure your loved ones know you love them even in times of conflict. Nurture and grow your relationships with your family and friends by making the time to spend with them. Don’t break your promises to them. Be supportive.

12. Keep Their Word

Honesty is the best policy. Every action and decision you make should be based on honesty. Be honest with yourself and with your loved ones.

13. Meditate

Meditation gives your very active brain a rest. When it’s rested you will have more energy and function at a higher level. Types of meditation include yoga, hypnosis, relaxation tapes, affirmations, visualization or just sitting in complete silence. Find something you enjoy and make the time to practice daily.

14. Mind Their Own Business

Concentrate on creating your life the way you want it. Take care of you and your family. Don’t get overly concerned with what other people are doing or saying. Don’t get caught up with gossip or name calling. Don’t judge. Everyone has a right to live their own life the way they want to – including you.

15. Optimism

See the glass as half full. Find the positive side of any given situation. It’s there – even though it may be hard to find. Know that everything happens for a reason, even though you may never know what the reason is. Steer clear of negative thoughts. If a negative thought creeps in – replace it with a positive thought.

16. Love Unconditionally

Accept others for who they are. You don’t put limitations on your love. Even though you may not always like the actions of your loved ones – you continue to love them.

17. Persistence

Never give up. Face each new challenge with the attitude that it will bring you one step closer to your goal. You will never fail, as long as you never give up. Focus on what you want, learn the required skills, make a plan to succeed and take action. We are always happiest while pursuing something of value to us.

18. Be Proactive

Accept what can not be changed. Happy people don’t waste energy on circumstances beyond their control. Accept your limitations as a human being. Determine how you can take control by creating the outcome you desire – rather than waiting to respond.

19. Self Care

Take care of your mind, body and health. Get regular medical check ups. Eat healthy and work out. Get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water. Exercise your mind by continually energizing it with interesting and exciting challenges.

20. Self Confidence

Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. After all no one likes a phony. Determine who you are in the inside – your own personal likes and dislikes. Be confident in who you are. Do the best you can and don’t second guess yourself.

21. Take Responsibility

Happy people know and understand that they are 100% responsible for their life. They take responsibility for their moods, attitude, thoughts, feelings, actions and words. They are the first to admit when they’ve made a mistake.

Begin today by taking responsibility for your happiness. Work on developing these habits as you own. The more you incorporate the above habits into your daily lifestyle – the happier you will be.

Most of all: BE TRUE TO YOURSELF.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Graphic Design Jobs & Careers

In case your interested in knowing what the market salaries are for graphic designers and directors, Print Magazine published this report recently.