Focused thinking gets us straight to the point when trying to find an answer. With diffuse thinking, our creativity takes the lead.

Both focused thinking and diffuse thinking have pros and cons. Both mindsets bring about quality results, just in different ways. It all depends on how creative you want to get with a project or situation.

Focused thinking, for instance, is just how it sounds. You pay attention to one thing at a time, solve one problem before another, and keep your attention in basically the same arena. This is not the diffuse type of thinking that works at all.

The freedom of diffuse thinking

You can actually see diffuse as a free-thinking form of getting things done. In ways, it might not work, but in other ways, it’s the only thing that truly gets the job done right. If you really want to amp up your creative abilities, then using the diffuse way of thinking is probably best, and here is why:

Ways to practice diffuse thinking:

1. Zoom out/the big picture

Okay, so instead of focusing on one part of the project at a time, perfecting and crafting this piece until it seems perfect, why not zoom out and look at the project as a whole. Work on many aspects of the project simultaneously, allowing your creative juices to flow freely.

When you do this, you see things you wouldn’t have seen if you were staring at one corner of any given job or project. It’s about the big picture with diffuse thinking, not the parts of the whole.

2. Reframe an issue

When you encounter an issue with something you’re working on, your first instinct is to zero in on the exact source of the problem to eliminate the culprit. It’s usually because of the way you’re looking at the issue. Most people don’t see negative aspects as having the potential to bring about positive results, but if you reframe what’s going on, you might find some good in the bad.

Reframing is not focused at all. When you see things differently, you’re seeing them from many angles. This improves your ability to solve problems more effectively and catered to each individual. After all, none of us are exactly the same, and neither is a problem.

3. Bad ideas reconsidered

After you’ve had some bad ideas, you usually throw them away and focus on something else. With diffuse thinking, you can reconsider the bad ideas as a good solution for something else.

Yes, just keep them in the background until they are no longer bad selections or negative ideas. Later you can reconsider whether these ideas are really all that bad after all. Having a wide-open mind helps you see things differently after reconsideration.

4. Dump assumptions

If you’re going to try and use diffuse-type thinking, you might as well stop assuming about what will work and what will not. Okay, so math problems generally have one focused answer, but not everything does. You should never assume that a situation or issue will turn out the way it looks when you focus on all the negatives.

Don’t assume, just because a friend wants to do something unconventional, that it won’t bring about good results. Not everything works at a conservative angle. Sometimes the most outrageous ideas are the best ideas of all. So, never assume, and this will help you become much more creative in all your endeavors.

5. Exploratory thinking

With diffuse thinking, you can go ahead and let your mind drift off into space. Think of silly things, fictional things, and things that never work. Explore new ideas, especially those that didn’t benefit before. Wouldn’t you want to make something work that failed? Gain an almost supernatural ability to be creative when you explore all possibilities, even the outlandish ones…especially those.

6. Be distracted on purpose

Most people get angry when they’re distracted. That’s because they use focus to get things done. And you know, focus is not a bad thing. It’s just that distractions don’t always have to be bad either.  There could be a certain distraction that could cause you to notice something which skyrockets your creativity in a project.

This distraction could even cause you to win awards and even invent something which makes a huge profit. Never ever downplay distractions. They can be good and they can be bad, just like anything else.

7. Change locations

Practice using diffuse thinking more often by changing your normal routine. If you’re used to sitting in the park reading a book, try going to the coffee shop and read. If you’re not reading, better yet, writing, the change in location can give you many new ideas. It can also increase your abilities to think creatively.

A well-rounded thought process

Using focus and diffuse thinking processes are both beneficial. While focus is like shining a flashlight with a small strong beam into a room and seeing the corner, diffuse is like shining a flashlight with a larger, yet weaker lense and seeing more of the room.

You can see by this how these two ways of thinking differ and complement each other. I say use them both, but always be willing to supercharge your creativity by using a bit of random and free-thinking.

Go ahead, use as much of that brain as you can.



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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Fred Carpenter

    Same as convergent versus divergent thinking. There’s far too much obfuscation, which has worsened due to “future shock.” This leads to compartmentalization, and when inside one system, people tend to think only within the parameters of that system.

    1. Sherrie Hurd

      Right, a good balance of both makes an awesome contender.

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