The Organized Mind

The Organized Mind

Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

Book - 2014
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"We are drowning in an unprecedented deluge of data. 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 person reports frequently losing car keys or reading glasses, missing appointments, and feeling worn out by the effort required just to keep up. Somehow some people become quite accomplished at managing information flow. Daniel J. Levitin uses the latest brain science to demonstrate how readers can use these methods to regain a sense of mastery over the way they organize their homes, workplaces, and lives. With chapters on everything from the kitchen junk drawer to health care to gambling in Las Vegas, Levitin reveals how new research into the cognitive neuroscience of attention and memory can be applied to daily life. His practical suggestions call for relatively minor changes that require little effort but will have remarkable long-term benefits for mental and physical health, productivity, and creativity. Daniel Levitin is a professor of psychology at McGill University and the author of This is Your Brain on Music"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Toronto, Ontario : Allen Lane, 2014
ISBN: 9780670067640
Branch Call Number: 153 LEV NVD
Characteristics: xxvi, 496 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

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m
MrAmann
Dec 16, 2015

Not an easy read by any standard. Reads like a textbook (not in a good way). Too bad because the subject matter could be interesting.

h
HereHere
Jun 19, 2015

This book is so voluminous that it adds to the information overload. If you are serious about managing information, without overwhelming yourself with information, I'm sure there are better resources out there. If you speed read, then maybe you can find the nuggets.

j
jmikesmith
Feb 04, 2015

The Organized Mind is a cross between a popular science book and a self-help book. The first part explains what neuroscience has learned about how the brain works, which is quite a lot in the last 20 years or so. Most of the rest of the book then suggests ways to use the brain's strengths and to compensate for its flaws to stay organized in our information-overloaded lives.

The main thrust is that we should use external systems as much as possible to supplement our somewhat inaccurate and inefficient memory. This includes things like having to-do lists (preferably on 3x5 index cards so you can re-organize and re-prioritize tasks easily), always storing things in the same place so you don't lose them, using electronic calendars or phones to remind yourself of things you need to know or do, and (if you're a highly successful person) hiring a personal assistant to take care of organizing your life.

There's also a good section on making good decisions that talks a bit about statistics and probability but manages to stay away from complex math. Levitin does present a nice tabular way to compute probabilities, especially in medical situations, where sometimes the error rate in a diagnostic test is greater than the base rate for the disease the test is trying to detect.

Levitin writes well and with a little bit of humour. He keeps the language easy to understand, although the early sections on brain anatomy and function have a lot of technical jargon that might distress some readers.

For me, I didn't learn much that I hadn't seen in other books, but this is a good introduction to the most recent findings in neuroscience and some practical ways to apply that knowledge. My main problem with self-help books, though, is that if it were as simple as following the instructions in a book to make our lives more organized, few of us would need the book. The fact is, most people won't follow the advice (I know I probably won't), so we'll continue muddling through. What we need is a self-help book on why we ignore self-help books.

s
skyparlor
Jan 08, 2015

An eye-opening book that is helping me to improve my internal and external environments. Don't let the heft put you off - give yourself permission to skim a bit if you get bogged down in the more technical neuroscience explanations.

w
writermala
Oct 13, 2014

"The Organized Mind" presents a wealth of information on all aspects of organizing. While the title indicates that the writer is going to be talking about the mind, he does much more than that. I learned how to organize my home, benefits of living in a clutter free environment; how to organize paper and computer files, how an organization is organized and yes, how an organized person is able to make better decisions.
The book tells us about the critical thinking skills essential to live in this Information age with brains which haven't caught up - physiologically evolving slowly from the hunter-gatherer phase.
An asset in any library; and Oh! you can go to that Google job interview with confidence after reading this book!

ksoles Sep 01, 2014

McGill professor of psychology and behavioural neuroscience, Daniel J. Levitin, knows exactly how modern culture seeks to understand life: brain research, studies on evolution and information theory. With that in mind, he has written a science-based self-help manual of sorts, one built on the premise that information has become a key resource yet we struggle not to drown in a flood of it. "The Organized Mind" offers some basic guidelines on how to thrive in such an environment by drawing on recent studies in Levitin's field.

After long-windedly bringing readers up to date on concepts like attention, information, and memory, Levitin uses the test case of dealing with the diagnosis of a potentially life-threatening illness to discuss improve negotiations of our lives and mindsets. He argues that we need to shift our burden of organization from our brains to the external world, including improving our understanding of statistics and refining our ability to critically sift information. Levitin concludes with advice on the values and skills we can teach our children to prepare them for life in information overdrive.

Much of Levitin's analysis informs and engages, especially his discussion of the disadvantages of procrastination and his deconstruction of the myth of multitasking. However, such a long book does not seem to contain enough insight to render it unique.
It shows us how to organize our mental homes but the reader can't help thinking that he/she has perused the same material before. Then again, that could just be symptomatic of information overload.

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Tdrgchess
Jun 20, 2016

"We have created a world with 300 exabytes"

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