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The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

Daniel J. Levitin
Brand-new, Paperback


How To Organize Your Mind & How To Systematize Your Workplace & Thinking To Gain Control Over Your Life

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ISBN 9780147516312
Publisher Dutton Books
Publication Date 1/9/2015
Pages 544
Weight 408 g
Dimension 19.8 × 13.5 × 3.3 cm
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New York Times bestselling author and neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin shifts his keen insights from your brain on music to your brain in a sea of details.

In The Organized Mind, Levitin demonstrates how the Information Age is drowning us with an unprecedented deluge of data, and uses the latest brain science to explain how the brain can organize this flood of information.

Daniel J. Levitin explains how to organize your mind, and how to systematize your workplace and your thinking to gain control over your life.

He makes wonderful points about the limits of the human mind and how to deal with them. Yet even as Levitin explains the constraints of human attention, he floods readers with details. His advice proves so rich with specifics that it can be overwhelming, but deeply perceptive.

At the same time, we’re expected to make more—and faster—decisions about our lives than ever before.

No wonder, then, that the average American reports frequently losing car keys or reading glasses, missing appointments, and feeling worn out by the effort required just to keep up.

But somehow some people become quite accomplished at managing information flow. In The Organized Mind, Daniel J. Levitin, PhD, uses the latest brain science to demonstrate how those people excel—and how readers can use their methods to regain a sense of mastery over the way they organize their homes, workplaces, and time.

Levitin begins by describing some basics about how the brain works, with a fascinating explanation of why memory is so fallible.

There’s also a nice explanation of how our brains handle categorization. Both of these brain traits affect the recommendations he provides later on for getting organized.

With lively, entertaining chapters on everything from the kitchen junk drawer to health care to executive office workflow, Levitin reveals how new research into the cognitive neuroscience of attention and memory can be applied to the challenges of our daily lives.

This Is Your Brain on Music showed how to better play and appreciate music through an understanding of how the brain works.

The Organized Mind shows how to navigate the churning flood of information in the twenty-first century with the same neuroscientific perspective.

Levitin then demonstrates methods that readers can use to regain a sense of mastery over the way they organize their homes, workplaces, and time.

It answers three fundamental questions:
☞ Why does the brain pay attention to some things and not others?
☞ Why do we remember some things and not others?
☞ And how can we use that knowledge to better organize our home and workplaces, our time, social world, and decision making?

The book is divided in three parts.The first part focuses on attention. Levitin explains why attention is the most essential mental resource for any organism and describes how the brain’s attentional system works: it determines which aspects of the environment an individual will deal with, and what gets passed through to that individual’s conscious awareness.

The attentional awareness system is the reason one can safely drive or walk to work without noticing most of the buildings or cars one passes by.

Additionally, Levitin reveals that the phrase “paying attention” is scientifically true. Multitasking comes at an actual metabolic cost: switching back and forth between tasks burns a lot more oxygenated glucose (the fuel the brain runs on) than focusing on one task does, and can lead quickly to mental exhaustion.

The second and third parts of the book show how readers can use their attentional and memory systems for better organization, from the classroom to the boardroom, from home lives to interactions with friends, doctors, and business associates.

This is a wonderful book about the modern mind. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin has written a comprehensive, yet engaging book about brain science, organization techniques, office clutter, memory, and the ever-present kitchen junk drawer!

Levitin has interesting things to say about the curse of e-mail, and the curse of passwords in the computer era.

To be efficacious, we not only need to limit the information we consume (by simplifying, limiting our sources, quitting social media, taking digital Sabbaths, etc.) but also need to develop systems to take the strain off our befuddled brains. To do this, Levitin says, we must organize our personal environments to better channel our brains’ unique approach to doing things.

According to The Organized Mind, the trick to efficiently organize and manage information is to “shift the burden of organizing from our brains to the external world.” Levitin uses the latest brain science to propose “organization principles”—methods and disciplines to regain a sense of mastery over the way we can organize our time, home, and office.

Review From New York Journal Of Books :

“Our minds were designed to succeed in an environment utterly unlike the information overload we now face. As for common sense, how can opposites attract but birds of a feather flock together?”

Daniel Levitin wears many hats: rock band member, neuroscientist, business management consultant, and above all, educator.

And educate readers he does in his hefty yet always entertaining volume that addresses the modern problem of having too much to deal with—“the mess we are in,” as Levitin bluntly puts it.

He draws heavily on evolution to explain why it is, for example, that our tendency to be attracted to anything new is maddeningly maladaptive in modern life.

Every Tweet, text, Facebook update, and push notification hogs the limited bandwidth for attention that we have, and so robs us of time and attention to pay attention to the matters that matter.

Levitin shows how common sense, which itself is rapidly dwindling in modern life, is often flat-out wrong and refuted by empirical evidence.

He speaks to how one can judge the quality of opinions on the Web where each voice typically seeks to claim itself authoritative. He speaks to how we can know our minds better so that we can make decisions that better align with our true values.

In short, he argues for having a mind that is quiet and can stay focused despite the deluge of distractions that hit us daily. Only such an organized mind can be still enough to generate creative ideas, he argues, and, even more, bring such ideas to fruition.

Sadly today we find ourselves unable to pay attention to any one thing for very long. We rapidly switch between attention and a given task at a pace that is too rapid for our brains to handle. The result is mental and emotional fatigue.

Moments of creative insight come when the mind is wandering––when it is not “on-task” thanks to what neuroscientists call the “central executive” in the brain’s frontal lobes.

When mind wandering, however, the answer to a problem that has been occupying us suddenly appears from “out of nowhere.” But the place from whence it comes is the mind in its mind-wandering mode, making connections between things we hadn’t previously seen as connected in any way. Hence the solution pops up.

Showing that our memory and attention both have limited capacity, Levitan explains why our minds are wholly unsuited to remembering the hundred passwords that life on the Internet now requires.

His advice is to offload responsibilities and think seriously about categorization, whether the objects or documents that currently own us are physical or digital.

And as for the uncategorizable stuff in our lives, well, it should have a space of its own––the famous kitchen junk drawer.


Tags : Business, Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Technology, Leadership

[ --- Read more --- ]

Information and Conscientious Organization
Part 1
1Too much Information Too Many decisions
– The Inside History of Cognitive Overload
2 The first things to get straight
– How Attention and Memory Work

Part 2
3 Organizing our homes
– Where Things Can Start to Get Better
4 Organizing our social world
– How Humans Connect Now
5 Organizing our time
– What Is the Mystery?
6 Organizing Information for the Hardest decisions
– When Life Is on the Line
7 Organizing the Business World
– How We Create Value

Part 3
8 What to Teach our Children
– The Future of the Organized Mind
9 Everything Else
– The Power of the Junk Drawer
– Constructing Your Own Fourfold Tables
– Notes


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