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The Organized Mind

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The Organized Mind

Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

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Learn to organize your mind, even in this era of continual distraction.

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In today’s “age of information overload” you may find yourself perpetually distracted and mired in multitasking. But you have better options. 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. getAbstract recommends this lovely, useful text to anyone living in the Information Age.


Information and Organization

Throughout history, people have tried to improve their brains so they can do, know, organize and understand more. The invention of writing about 5,000 years ago was a major breakthrough in “neural enhancement.” At first, people used writing for recordkeeping: receipts, recipes, inventories, and the like. Settling in cities around 3000 BC put new demands on human memory.

Since human patterns of thinking and decision making evolved over the tens of thousands of years that people spent as hunter-gatherers, many individuals still experience mental clashes between emerging techniques and older practices. Thus, attempts to augment human memory continue.

Externalizing memory – with computers and cellphones, for example – allows you to focus on something else, beyond memory. However, using external memory opens up the dilemma of organization. Your organic memory is rich and flexible. It has “associative access,” so you can tap into your memories several ways. Yet, organic memory has no organizational plan and runs on several different systems. To use your brain more efficiently, learn how it organizes data. Contemporary society places increased...

About the Author

Daniel J. Levitin is Dean of Social Sciences at the Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute, a Distinguished Faculty Fellow at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at McGill University. He wrote the international bestsellers This Is Your Brain on Music, The World in Six Songs, The Organized Mind and A Field Guide to Lies.

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