Monday, October 20, 2014

The Organized Mind - Daniel J. Levitin

This one got by me. The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload ran in Shelf Awareness awhile back and I'm reposting it here today with their permission. I found this one very fascinating. It's long and there are sections that could have been tightened up a bit, but I've put a lot of these ideas into practice for myself and have seen a marked difference, so I don't want to leave it off the blog. Hope you enjoy it.

First line: "We humans have a long history of pursuing neural enhancement--ways to improve the brains that evolution gave us."

With the constant barrage of information, coupled with the infinite distractions of technology, neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin (This Is Your Brain on Music) says it’s no wonder people regularly lose their keys or forget appointments. The information isn’t going to slow, so what’s the solution? Understand your brain.

The brain’s natural tendency is to sort all incoming information, a tendency that served humans well until the current information explosion. Now the brain takes in an overwhelming amount of data, experiences and knowledge and organizes it in such a way that memories are difficult to retrieve or are altered to the point of unreliability. To battle this phenomenon, Levitin says people need to move some of the brain’s systems outside the body.

He examines how these external systems can work to organize the human environment, everything from the physical—homes—to the theoretical—time.

The Organized Mind is jam packed with ideas readers can immediately put into action, but it also contains concepts readers may struggle to accept. It challenges the value of multi-tasking and asks readers to make rational decisions about life-changing events, like cancer surgery. In theory, the rational choice is obvious; when confronted with the actuality, an emotional component comes into play. However, Levitin does an excellent job of showing different perspectives and driving home the idea that an organized mind can have more control over emotion because it has control over the information.

Anyone who’s ever asked themselves, “now, where’d I put those keys?” will find The Organized Mind an invaluable, life-altering resource.

The Organized Mind is available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0525954187) from Dutton. There is also an unabridged audiobook version, narrated by Luke Daniels, from Penguin Audio.


Kristine October 21, 2014 at 12:04 PM  

Great review. This looks like it would be worth taking the time to read, but oh! to actually read it and not just throw on the TBR to be buried and forgotten. That would take an organized mind. Heh heh. Thanks for posting.

Kristen October 26, 2014 at 6:51 PM  

This does sound fascinating. Thanks for letting me know I shouldn't just pass it by.

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