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

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Overview

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.

The information age is drowning us with 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 American reports frequently losing car keys or reading glasses, missing ...

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

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Overview

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.

The information age is drowning us with 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 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.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

In the Information Age, data overload can be downright suffocating. Each day, average Americans are bombarded by the equivalent of 174 newspapers of data; five times as much information as we processed daily in the mid-eighties. This new book by neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitan (This is Your World on Music) schools readers on cutting-edge brain science that can help them hold the reins even under the constant onslaught of information. By combining fascinating facts with practical pointers, The Organized Mind keeps your attention even as it teaches you to manage your life-and remember when to pick up the kids.

Publishers Weekly
06/23/2014
Levitin (This Is Your Brain on Music), professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience at McGill University, examines the way our brains have evolved (and not) to meet the challenges of the Information Age. While our brains evolved to take on the daunting challenges of life in the Stone Age, they now have many redundant, maladaptive, and not quite finished features that clash with the huge demands placed on our attention by the modern world. Levitin reviews the way our thinking is distorted by these distractions, beginning with a tour through the neurology of attention; the origin of these distractions, from written language to the smartphone; and the powers of the wandering mind, the state in which humans think the most creatively. He offers advice on how to reorganize attention and make better decisions. Each chapter also takes practical detours through information theory, probability, and other human strategies for coping with contemporary problems. Levitin’s fascinating tour of the mind helps us better understand the ways we process and structure our experiences. Agent: The Wylie Agency. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
2014-06-11
Lost your keys or glasses? Blame your brain, writes Levitin (Psychology and Music/McGill Univ.;The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature, 2008, etc.) in this ingenious combination of neuroscience and self-help.Levitin, who served as a studio musician and sound engineer before becoming a neuroscientist, stresses that evolution does notdesignthings but, over millions of years,settleson systems that get the job done. The brain worked well enough for our Stone Age ancestors and has barely changed since then, during which it has been forced to absorb vastly more knowledge than ever before in human history. Critics of every expansion of information access (writing, printing press, TV, Internet, social media) warn that the information expansion has gone too far and will make us stupid. While disagreeing, Levitin admits that brains evolved to focus on one thing at a time and filter out distractions, but this “attentional system” is outdated when confronted with today’s avalanche of input. Memory is also unreliable; worse, we often refuse to believe it. Most Americans, President George W. Bush included, remember watching TV on 9/11 and seeing two planes striking the World Trade Center towers 20 minutes apart. This is a false memory, however; videos of the first plane didn’t appear until the following day. Levitin fills a third of his book with insights derived from neuroscience. In the remainder, he delivers advice for organizing your life by shifting the burden from neurons to the outside world. He provides imaginative suggestions involving filing systems, labels and multiple computers, as well as tactics to determine the usefulness (i.e., truth) of the excess of information in today’s media.A prolific genre of books covers this subject, but Levitin holds his own, and his examination of brain function stands out.
Library Journal
08/01/2014
Advances in computer technology and the rise of the Internet have led to an onslaught of information confronting us each day. Drawing upon the results of psychological research, Levitin (James McGill Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience, McGill Univ.; This Is Your Brain on Music) explains how the mental processes of attention, working memory, and categorization limit the amount of information that we can take in and remember. By employing practical strategies that work in concert with these mental processes, we can become more organized, make more informed decisions, and increase our efficiency at work, at home, and in our social lives. Levitin illuminates his points with vivid real-world examples such as company management structures, probabilities involved in medical diagnoses and treatments, and organizational strategies used by celebrities, CEOs, and their assistants. Owing to frequent references to current web applications and public figures, however, this book may soon become outdated. VERDICT By learning about how the mind processes information, readers with an interest in the brain will come away with insight into how they can better organize their lengthy to-do lists, overflowing junk drawers, and cluttered schedules. [See Prepub Alert, 2/3/14.]—Katherine G. Akers, Univ. of Michigan Libs., Ann Arbor
The Barnes & Noble Review

I decided to write this review of a book called The Organized Mind in a café, in order to avoid the alluring distractions of home, including laundry and suddenly imperative grime that was hitherto invisible. I'm also doing so with pen on paper, to similarly avoid becoming lost in that endless hall of delights accessed with just a switch of the screen (let me just check Facebook for a second . . . ). I thought I was just undisciplined. Or perhaps putting the finishing touches on a consummate mastery of the art of procrastination.

Reviewer: Melissa Holbrook Pierson

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525954187
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/19/2014
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

DANIEL J. LEVITIN, PhD, is the James McGill Professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience at McGill University—where he also teaches in the graduate school of business—and dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at the Minerva Schools at KGI. The author of two New York Times bestselling books, This Is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs, he splits his time between Montreal and Orinda, California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2014

    I NEED SOME INPUT

    This book keeps catching my eye but I don't want to purchase it until I can read some reviews.I'm hesitant because just last week,same scenario, different book and I was so disapointed with my choice to go ahead and buy it.This is starting to sound like I'm thinking,let someone else get screwed!!Well if it looks like a duck and acts like a duck\\\\\\\\

    1 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2014

    Have not read but love reading summary

    Cant wait to get this book and start reading.

    0 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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