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

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Daniel Levitin’s ORGANIZED MIND seeks to take the figurative junk drawer of our mind, explain how the mind works, and help us live more thought-out and productive lives. His knowledge comes from his own years of teaching and research and has been influenced by mind pioneers such as Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The end product is an awesome journey into the realms of our minds that enlighten and inspires action.

This book is huge. At times Levitin may appear longwinded in his narrative—but that’s okay. Trust me. As he unravels the various layers of mental organization, he sidebars into various studies and interesting factoids. At first, you may think Levitin is being ironically unorganized, but later chapters tie it back together. Other times, Levitin may tuck in a brief statement that will cause you tunneling into Google for more information (though many notes for further study are linked at the rear of the book).

Levitin differs himself from Kahneman’s THINKING, FAST AND SLOW by saying there are “four components in the human attentional system”: mind wondering mode; central executive mode; attentional filter; and, attentional switch. What mostly comes into play are the first two components. I have some issue for the terminology “mind wondering mode”; I would have liked Levitin to expound more on mindfulness and what component it falls into.

THE ORGANIZED MIND offers more explanation than step-by-step or bulleted technique. I appreciated this approach, feeling it strengthened the technique through knowledge of why it works. Levitin uses the ideas of offloading brain information through index cards, calendaring, contact sheets—much like our mind uses random access memory versus chronological memory. Some of these techniques were explained in the books THE POWER OF FORGETTING and ESSENTIALISM, but not nearly in the depth of knowledge that Levitin offers.

Category management is a huge topic throughout the book: reasonably so. It is one such tool that the recent FLUENT FOREVER book used in learning foreign languages. Levitin continues this insight into everything from organizing our homes to making life-depending healthcare choices. Levitin combines it all together, showing how Highly Successful Persons (HSPs) are able to succeed by naturally using these strategies.

I was pleased to see Levitin address the fundamental need for sleep, exercise, and exposing oneself to nature. These are not just “you should” statements, but as mentioned before, these are well-documented, scientifically-backed recommendations.

There are also sections dealing with procrastination, crowdsourcing, the dangers of multi-tasking and teaching children safe web research, and much more. It all plays into more information than you’ll want, but definitely will include any information you are trying to find or need.

All-in-all, this is a great book that’ll make you think and learn better. Thanks to Dutton for sending this to me for review.

You can find this book’s preview and soon-to-be other reviews on Amazon: The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

Enjoy!

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