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Autofocus Brain: 5 Tricks To Use Your Brain Like A Camera

Autofocus Brain: 5 Tricks To Use Your Brain Like A Camera

Think about the lens of an autofocus camera. Regardless of the distance, the focus adjusts itself in milliseconds to bring the object into sharp clarity and perfect focus.

Now, imagine if you could learn to use your brain to do that. Imagine if it could focus on various things in matters of milliseconds, seamlessly moving from one thought to another.

An Example on a Ship’s Bridge

If you are the bridge of my ship, you will find a symphony of random information flow and an orchestra of quick decisions.

I stand in command. We are a massive mammoth entering the Mississippi delta, about to pick up Pilot at the Southern end of the Mississippi river. With a draft of 40 feet, my ship is in waters not nearly deep enough. I have little room to maneuver and no room for error! Small vessels are whizzing past my bow and larger ones are coming downriver, often loaded, sluggish, and unpredictable. The port control is of little help in guiding me in. There is an efficient bridge team working for me. Everyone is on high alert. I am getting inputs from all ends.

Use your brain potential

    Here is the list of information packets that are reaching my brain at any given time:

    1. Speed and distance values in real time, as they keep changing.
    2. The possibility of ships and smaller vessels crossing my path at close quarters.
    3. Problems and changes in my ship’s engine parameters.
    4. Vessels departing anchorages heading towards me.
    5. Shallow patches of water creating difficulty in maneuvering.
    6. The Pilot boat is approaching and I need to slow down soon.
    7. There is a vessel behind trying to overtake me on my starboard side while I have another one on my port side.
    8. My agent wants to know my itinerary so that things can be arranged as soon as I enter the port.
    9. Port control is calling me on the radio to report to them.

    Not everything is going right as planned, so I also have additional information to consider:

    1. Technical difficulties I am facing with my ship.
    2. Unexpected movements by vessels around me.
    3. Difficulty in steering the vessel because of shallow depths (just to name a few).

    This continuous information flow is collected by my team and fed in real time into the primary central server — me. Besides, I also also have to control team frustration to prevent the system from crumbling.

    Here’s the thing: the default setting of a brain so bombarded by information is to get perplexed and confused. I just do not have that option. All of these inputs are being prioritized and filtered in real time by mere instinctive reflexes in my brain. Decisions are being made in seconds. One wrong decision can lead to a disaster. I am the last line of defense here.

    Overwhelming? Well, that’s just another day for us out at sea.

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    Maximising your potential

      The Importance of Correct Decisions

      In several professions around the world, decisions have to be made in seconds or milliseconds. And just like me, some people cannot afford to make mistakes — the price is too high. You have to know how to use your brain!

      A concert master conducting an orchestra will pay the price with a ruined performance in front of an audience, perhaps a ruined career over one wrong gesture of his hand. A soldier in the battlefield is going to pay the price with his life for any wrong decision. The pilot of a Boeing 737 will pay with the lives of everyone on board.

      In every phase and every sector of life, high achievers need to develop this habit of making the right decisions immediately.

      To use your brain to its full potential takes more than intention. It takes training.

      When you get hit by several information inputs at once, an untrained brain gets mesmerized and overwhelmed. Productivity declines. The ability to prioritize declines. If prolonged, this can lead to cognitive impairment, where you are unable to make any decision. Your productivity drops to zero.

      However, that is not an option for some people. As I said before, our mistakes cost dearly. We have no room for error.

      The Mechanism of Pulling off a Successful Venture

      To make an operation succeed, you must have:

      1. The ability to use your brain to prioritize information in real time and to act on the highest priority in the moment.
      2. Once solved, the ability to shift focus immediately and concentrate on the next piece of information.

      How You Use Your Brain for Prioritizing

      Prioritizing comes with experience in the job. We prioritize based on the balance between 3 things:

      • The urgency of the decision (Urgency factor).
      • How easy the decision is (Difficulty Factor).
      • The consequence of the wrong decision (Consequence factor).

      In the boating example above, if I make a wrong call on a vessel coming out of the harbour, it can lead to a severe disaster, hence the high Consequence factor. I may have just a few seconds to make that decision – meaning there’s also a high Urgency factor. However, the decision may be elementary for me, meaning a low Difficulty factor. This decision will have to be given a lot of attention in the moment, and once made, the brain can shift into things of lesser priority. How you use your brain for those few seconds can make or break the situation.

      On the other hand, in the same example above, the agent is asking me for my itinerary. Even if I give him the wrong information, nothing disastrous is going to happen, hence a low Consequence factor. The information is easy for me to give, hence a low Difficulty factor and, frankly, it’s not very urgent either — a medium Urgency factor. This decision shall be postponed for later as it is not a priority at the moment for me.

      What I have just explained is done by professionals all over the world. There are ways to improve on setting priorities, which we shall get into at a later date.

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      The Focusing Ability of the Brain

      Let’s talk about developing the ability to shift focus in matters of milliseconds.

      The problem with an untrained brain is that while you are focused on one thing, the remnants of your previous decision are still looming in your mind. It is distracting you and affecting your present decision. You are getting delayed. When there are several quick decisions to make, this will bring in undue haste and your brain may fail or refuse to decide quickly.

      It takes a bit of practice to condition a mind so that it can focus on one issue and then immediately shift focus to a new one with equal attention. This way, you use your brain to pay rapt attention to every decision, which makes them impeccable and error-free.

      That is my concept of the autofocus brain.

      The Auto Focus brain - use your brains true potential

        What if your brain could work like the lens of an autofocus camera, focusing itself and readjusting focus as needed in a matter of milliseconds? What if we did not get perplexed ever, no matter how many tiny bits of information come through to us? What if this was as easy for you as a walk in the park?

        When you get a series of random information inputs, it apparently seems that the mind concentrates on several things at once. This, however, is not true. It is not possible for us to pay attention to many things at the same exact moment. What we really do is dissect the information into smaller parts, concentrate on each part at a time and, once resolved, move on to the next. This is how you use your brain.

        5 Proven Methods to Develop Your Brain’s Ability to Focus Instantly

        What I am going to explain here is not theory. I have practiced this myself and I have trained my juniors to use this ability to their benefit. I know it works.

        These five different methods can be used individually or together over the course of a day. Each of them, with the exception of number 5, takes about five minutes of your time. Even if you follow any one of them just once a day, you will be able to use your brain in ways you never thought were possible.

        1. The breathing technique (5 minutes)

        This is something practised by hypnotists and yoga practitioners around the world. It works like a charm.

        For five minutes a day, sit in a relaxing comfortable position, close your eyes, and let go of your muscles. Now, focus on your breathing and nothing else. Feel the up and down movement of your chest or stomach. Feel the air entering your nostrils leading up to your lungs and feel the freshness in your body. Pay attention to this and to nothing else.

        If you have not done this before, your mind will wander off. This is not a problem. When you realize that you have branched out into different thoughts, just bring your focus back to your breathing.

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        2. Browsers option (5 minutes)

        Do you spend a lot of time in front of computers? This option is ideal for you.

        Open up 5 of your favourite sites in different windows. You can have them open on different browsers, like three on Google Chrome and two on Firefox, just to make it more challenging.

        Now, open one of them and read the content with rapt attention. Really concentrate on it! Do this for exactly a minute and then shift to the next window. As soon as you are on the next one, read that one with your full attention.

        It will seem difficult in the beginning and you will tend to think about what you were reading before. When you realize this, just bring your attention back.

        Time yourself for one minute using your watch or mobile phone. If you can, set it for a single beep every minute. When you find this easy to do, shorten the span to half a minute and use your 5 minutes to browse through ten sites. Try changing focus fast, yet concentrate on each item individually.

        3. The Facebook technique (5 minutes)

        If you are a social media fanatic, this option is great for you. Facebook is an ideal collection of random facts which can be used effectively.

        Open your Facebook page. Now read the first post for a minute. Do this with rapt attention to it.

        At the end of the minute, whether you have finished reading it or not, shift to the next one and pay equal attention. As before, this will be difficult in the beginning and you have to keep bringing your attention back to the post in front of you.

        Even if you have not finished reading one post, you must shift focus to the next one. This can also be done using Twitter, Yahoo, or Google+. It slowly becomes easier to shift focus briskly and to use your brain in this fashion.

        4. The fixed-point method (5 minutes)

        This one is for anyone who can spare five minutes of their time during the day to be alone and undisturbed.

        I want you to sit on the ground in a quiet place with your legs crossed. Draw a small dot on the wall in front of you.

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        Now, with your hands and body relaxed, look at this dot. Concentrate on it. Think about this dot and about its shape and size. You will slowly see everything else fading away, even the wall will seem blurry and the only thing in your focus will be this dot. If your attention wanders, as before, bring it back.

        When you think you can concentrate on this dot effectively for five straight minutes without distraction, put your ability to the test. Choose more noisy and distracting environments and do the same exercise. For example, while traveling, choose a fixed point in front of you and concentrate on it. Do not let the noise of the cars around distract you — needless to say, do not do this if you are driving.

        5. The attention method

        What are you thinking about right now? Are you just reading this post or are you thinking about something else? Just start paying attention precisely to everything that you do from now on. Most of the things you do don’t take much of your attention. They are mostly reflexes and habits. I am asking you to start paying attention to them.

        For example, the next time you peel an orange, peel it carefully and cleanly. Think about what you are doing. Once you’re done, pay attention to the taste and how it feels in your mouth. Consciously use your brain to concentrate on the immediate task.

        While talking to someone, pay attention to the conversation. Do not let your mind wander off to other thoughts. If it does, just bring it back.

        These methods, if followed diligently, will give you results within a relatively short time. They can work wonders for kids too. If your child is at an age where they can follow instructions, get them to do one of these during the day. Trust me, these five minutes can be far more beneficial than hours of study.

        With a bit of practice, the mind works on autopilot, focusing on the essential things only. This will make you a winner in all that you do, big or small, and increase your productivity infinitely.

        Photo credits: Ship heading into the diamond ring; The Azimuth Mirror : Photos Taken by Captain D. Camera: Free Images

        Featured photo credit: Liam Welch via images.unsplash.com

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        Last Updated on November 5, 2019

        5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

        5 Learning Management Systems (LMS) for Effective Learning

        Businesses rely on talent to generate and sell value. Without skilled people to create its products, manage its operations and execute its strategies, a business would inevitably fizzle out of the game and leave better-staffed competitors to take the field.

        This is the reason why ambitious companies go great lengths to attract top talent,[1] shelling out millions of dollars in the process and bending traditional work policies just to bring highly skilled but demanding candidates into the fold.

        Clearly, the contours of business are changing. But so are the demographics of work.

        Millennials have become the dominant generation in the job market in terms of population, and some have already transitioned into leadership roles. Most millennials consider opportunity to learn and grow more important than overall compensation.[2]

        Companies also today expect employees to come equipped with razor sharp business acumen.[3] Unfortunately, there is an alarming discrepancy between the actual skills businesses need and those currently possessed by job candidates.

        To stay in the game, employers need to continually upgrade their training and skills development strategies to cover the entire employee lifecycle.

        What are Learning Management Systems (LMS)?

        Learning management systems are software-based solutions for authoring, presenting, consuming, storing, and tracking educational content and training materials. These systems aim to centralize all instructional content (e.g., lessons, training modules, instructional videos, presentation slides, worksheets, online quizzes, ebooks, takeaway notes, etc.) in one place.

        LMS enable instructors to design and deliver learning experiences to students, with the added capability of evaluating the effectiveness of the instructional materials and grading the learning progress of students.

        On the other side of the equation, learners use LMS to develop skills and acquire new knowledge virtually anytime and anywhere via the different channels and content formats made possible by digital technology.

        Over the years, a wide range of features and technologies have been integrated into learning management systems to help enhance the experience of training designers, instructors, and learners. These include cloud and mobile technology, artificial intelligence, responsive design, scheduling, gamification, data analytics, and interoperability with other applications.

        5 Best All-Purpose Learning Management Systems

        There are dozens of LMS vendors catering to the general market or to specific segments such as K-12 learning, higher education, and corporate training.

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        With so many options available, selecting the right LMS solution for your needs can be complicated and costly, especially when you end up adopting a platform that doesn’t exactly match your goals or requirements.

        Short of conducting a comprehensive audit of your needs and finalizing a learning roadmap, the safest bet would be to adopt full-featured but affordable LMS solutions.

        Based on user reviews, here are the 5 best LMS to help people gain knowledge, build skills, and achieve mastery:

        1. Canvas Network

        Launched by Instructure as an open source software in 2011, Canvas is an end-to-end cloud-based service originally engineered for the education sector.

        Widely adopted for K-12 and Higher Ed learning, Canvas can be repurposed for anything that involves an instructor, a subject matter, and a student.

        Used around the world by people of all ages and organizations of all types, Canvas arguably has the largest learning and support community in its class. It works on desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones.

        To get a glimpse of the platform’s fresh interfaces, you can visit the Canvas Network, a learning community that provides educational and instructional materials created by colleges, universities, corporate businesses, independent course developers, and other knowledge-sharing entities around the world.

        Hosting hundreds of interesting topics from data science to horticulture, the learning network also serves as evidence to the scope, capabilities, and popularity of the Canvas LMS platform.

        Canvas is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure, which enhances the platform’s reliability, speed, scalability, and overall online performance.

        Additionally, platform adopters enjoy a low-risk environment since cloud-based solutions require no hard stops for version updates, upgrades, or system migrations.

        The Canvas website does not show a price matrix but says the service adopts a simple formula for computing fees: a one-time implementation fee and an annual subscription fee based on total number of users. It also promises free basic services for teachers who want to use the platform.

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        In addition to Canvas, Instructure also offers Bridge (an LMS designed for corporate environments), Arc (a video platform for online learning), and Gauge (an assessment management system).

        Check out this video if you want to learn more about Canvas Network:

        2. Google Classroom

        This free service from Google aims to improve the teaching and learning process using cloud technology, web apps, workflow simplification, and seamless communication between students and instructors.

        Using Classroom, educators can easily create and schedule classes, distribute assignments, send feedback, and grade quizzes all in one place. By streamlining processes, Classroom helps teachers save time and organize classes more effectively. Both students and teachers can also work using any device anytime and anywhere.

        Classroom works perfectly with other Google tools, having been launched initially as part of Google’s G Suite for Education. This LMS solution taps Google Drive for content storage and distribution, as well as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for the creation and sharing of instructional materials. Meanwhile it integrates Google Calendar for scheduling and Gmail for communication.

        With G Suite, other communication channels such as chat messaging, video conferencing, and a dedicated website are enabled.

        Easy to set up and manage, Google Classroom is free to use. One of my very first courses was actually hosted on Google Classroom.

        Going beyond the classroom environment, Google offers G Suite Enterprise for Education for large institutions. This suite provides enhanced search and analytics capabilities as well as advanced tools for enterprise communications.

        3. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment)

        If budget and capability equally top your list of LMS adoption criteria, then Moodle might just fit the bill. Which is to say there’s none (i.e., bill).

        Moodle is a free and open-source learning solution for distance education, workplace training, flipped classrooms, and other pedagogical environments.

        It is also a full-featured LMS supported by a robust community and a thriving developer ecosystem. Not surprisingly, Moodle is used in more than 15 million courses by more than 130 million users in 230+ countries.

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        Among other things, Moodle enables administrators and educators to create a dynamic and dedicated website to host organic, easily accessible, and highly customizable courses that can be experienced on desktops and mobile devices anytime and anywhere.

        Moodle provides a personalized and intuitive dashboard as well as a host of collaboration tools for content designers, teachers, and learners. A universal calendar, an efficient file management system, an automatic notification system, multimedia integration, and a progress tracking tool all come with the package.

        Check out this video if you want to learn more about Moodle:

        4. Absorb

        This platform recently bagged PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award for Best LMS.

        Co-designed and built by former course authors, Absorb takes learning experience to the next level. This turnkey LMS solution is responsive, full-featured, and highly customizable for maximum impact.

        Course developers can orchestrate a wide range of experiences depending on audience or learning situation. In addition to surveys, polls, and e-commerce integration, Absorb supports formal online learning and certifications standards such as AICC, SCORM, and Tin Can.

        The user interface can also be modified to match the learner’s location, group, or department, allowing for a different look and feel for customers, channel partners, management trainees, and newly hired employees.

        Absorb supports all personal computing devices from desktops to mobile phones. There are also native or hybrid apps for iOS and Android.

        The only possible drawback to the platform’s powerful feature set is its pricing. The service reportedly implements a flat, one-time setup fee depending on your business and training requirements. According to the site, any plan comes with a dedicated success team for your account.

        Although small companies are welcome to try, midsize to enterprise-scale organizations are probably the best segment to readily adopt this LMS solution.

        Take a look at some examples of Absorb in this video:

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        5. Watershed Collaborative

        Created by a group of educators, this nonprofit rethinks the priorities of an LMS, asserting that too many systems miss the most essential elements of what makes learning stick. They promise a better user experience – emphasizing Learning before Management and System.

        Watershed aims to support an inquiry-based learning experience through an integrated mix of online and in-person learning strategies and interactions designed expressly for teams – including collaboration, reflection, and dialogue.

        While Watershed was founded initially to serve the K-12 education market, the company has since expanded its scope to cater to all types of teachers and learners with its video-rich, state-of-the-art platform.

        If you’re a mission-driven educator, content creator, institution, or business, this LMS may be the one for you.

        Watershed specializes in assisting you with the instructional design of courses and provides content production services to ensure top-quality video assets with lasting value. Their LMS makes it easy for course creators to continuously update and tailor content to support small and large groups, while ensuring the technology and instructional strategy supports communities of learners.

        Pricing varies based on products and services, but revenues support the nonprofit’s ability to make its platform and courses available at little or no cost for high-need educators and educational settings.

        Honorable Mentions

        There are dozens of LMS vendors in this growing market and the brands included in foregoing list are by no means the only viable options for companies or learning institutions looking to upgrade their learning infrastructure.

        Many other excellent services are worth checking out. These include:

        1. Docebo is an LMS designed for hyper-engaging students, employees, customers, and other learners. The system helps organizations identify and resolve competency gaps with strategic learning interventions.
        2. Cornerstone OnDemand is a talent, training, and performance management solution offered as an SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). This service enables learners to create personalized playlists of instructional content.
        3. Lessonly is an LMS solution that makes it easier to recall and reinforce whatever skills or knowledge you have learned through quizzes, coaching, and constant practice.
        4. Skillsoft is an online training and corporate learning platform developed by a two-decade old and billion-dollar company with the same name.
        5. D2L BrightSpace is a learning management system that has all the basics for delivering excellent, rich-media experiences for classroom or workplace training.

        Conclusion

        There are many ways to learn but some are more effective and meaningful than others. Whether you are a teacher looking to enhance classroom learning or an HR manager creating a long-term talent development plan for employees, the key to impactful learning is to understand and bridge the needs of learners, the goals of your institution, and the actual capabilities of the learning tools you are considering.

        Note that using multiple LMS platforms is possible although not recommended. On the other hand, adopting other learning solutions beyond LMS (such as podcasts, mentoring, and onsite in-person workshops) may significantly improve learning outcomes. Always go for products and plugins that seamlessly integrate into your core LMS tool.

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

        Reference

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