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

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  6,326 Ratings  ·  767 Reviews
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 rep
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published August 19th 2014 by Dutton
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Homan Lau I think he gives out exactly one advice for each chapter. You may find out the keyword first, then listen to how he elaborates it.
Vishal Have read the first third of it yet. As expected from any standard popular Psychology work by a serious author, no expletives or frown-worthy language…moreHave read the first third of it yet. As expected from any standard popular Psychology work by a serious author, no expletives or frown-worthy language are present(less)

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SJ Loria
Jul 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review will be three parts. First a quick paragraph about what this book is. Then, some of the practical tips and facts from the book itself and finally a why this book matters (and how it relates to The End of Absence) kind of rant. Also quotes at the end.

1. What this book is.
I'm not entirely sure if this book is supposed to address what it means to have an organized mind or how one can implement structure in order to achieve an organized mind. It's a bit of both, which services perhaps to
Claudia Putnam
Who came up with this title, anyway? The marketing dept missed it on this one. It's more about why we're NOT organized than about how to organize. You could say it's about how brains try to organize info, and the barriers to organization in this day and age. There's very little actionable advice. A lot of digression into everything the author has ever learned about how brains function. Whether it's sleep phases, flow states, rational decision-making--most of this stuff has been published elsewhe ...more
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to David by: Peter Mcloughlin
This is a wonderful book about the modern mind. Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin has written a comprehensive, yet engaging book about brain science, organization techniques, office clutter, memory, and the ever-present kitchen junk drawer! Levitin has interesting things to say about the curse of e-mail, and the curse of passwords in the computer era.

So, what is the greatest organizational component of the mind? It is attention--the "most essential mental resource for any organism ... The attention
Sep 20, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book is a dangerous combination of mildly compelling and vastly overwritten. I'd be reading and getting frustrated by the repetitive use of examples, the divergence from the main theme, the pointless asides, and then OCCASIONALLY an interesting tidbit would crop up.

In the end, it wasn't enough to hold me, and I ended up skipping/speeding through massive portions of it (audiobook). The first chapter about the mind's states of attention, and the challenges of/resources lost when switching th
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Can I just say that I found it incredibly ironic that a book on organization in an age of INFORMATION OVERLOAD was so very long? It would have been well-serviced by a developmental editor, one capable of trimming the often protracted prose and tightening the book's overall focus. This book is slightly misleading as it's not really a "how to get organized" manifesto. It takes lengthy detours into the inner workings of the mind, including how the brain organizes information as well as the ways in ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I dipped into this off and on as one of the books I kept at my desk at work. Full confession: I did not read every word on every page. I stuck to a close read of the chapters most relevant to my interests and the work I do as a librarian, and skimmed the rest. This is quite the comprehensive overview of the neuroscience of information organization.

The first chapter, "Too Much Information, Too Many Decisions: The Inside History of Cognitive Overload," had a lot to say about how people handle the
Ben Babcock
I first heard about this book when Daniel Levitin appeared on a Spark episode to talk about organization. I recommend you follow the link and listen to the interview; his examples are pretty much straight from the book, so it should give you a good idea of whether or not to read this. I mentioned the book to my friend Rebecca, because it seemed like she would be interested in it. Lo and behold, she goes out and buys the book herself … and then turns around and lends it to me before she reads it, ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eye and mind opener

A lots of topics to think about, good as reference to go back and reread. The citations make it easy to go deeper into any of the topics.
Ryan Dejonghe
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 longwind
Jul 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-brain, library
Our brains are remarkably able to store an insurmountable wealth of information… Or are they? Having not been biologically created to receive as much stimuli as we do in the modern world; how can our brains cope? How is the information stored and organized? Best-selling author, psychologist, and neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin explores these questions in, “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.

Levitin divides “The Organized Mind” into three main parts with th
David Ranney
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was ok
For people of any age, the world is becoming increasingly linear---a word I'm using in its figurative rather than mathematical sense. Nonlinear thinkers, including many artists, are feeling more marginalized as a result. As a society, it seems we take less time for art. In doing so, we may be missing out on something that is deeply valuable and important from a neurobiological standpoint. Artists recontextualize reality and offer visions that were previously invisible. Creativity engages the br
Andrea McDowell
OK, I didn't completely finish it--I skipped/skimmed the last two chapters (not quite sure why this book required an extended discussion on the pitfalls of wikipedia, but there it was).

The book was ok. It repeats a lot of the popular experiments other authors of popular psychology books use, which makes me wonder if maybe the Invisible Gorilla etc. are the only experiments that have been done in the past 20 years. Regardless, I wasn't sure why they were there. They're interesting experiments an
د.أمجد الجنباز
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
كتاب عميق وخطير وصعب. يتحدث عن الدماغ وكيف يعمل. ويحوي نصائح عملية متناغمة مع آلية عمل الدماغ لتحسين حياتنا
الكتاب علمي، ومؤلفه بروفيسور وباحث في الدماغ. ولذلك فأسلوب الكتاب صعب وجامد. ومع ذلك فهو ممتع ومفيد للغاية
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Nothing reveals more about our vigorous, bootstrap American culture than self-help literature. And nothing reveals more about our own insecurity and alienation than that same literature. While we are simultaneously driven to control our destinies, we are also driven to reach for a book to rescue us from our inability. This reveals our deep-seated dread of contingency and imperfection and our deep-seated hunger for universality and perfection. The desire for change implies the need for change.

L.A. Starks
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book will soon become dog-eared from all of the re-reading and noting I'll be doing. For anyone who feels inundated by the never ending torrent of info or anyone interested in learning, memory, and retrieval, this book is well worth reading.
Nick Richtsmeier
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Books like An Organized Mind are such a struggle to review. On one hand there were sections of this book that were so rich and so valuable that I either went and implemented the changes suggested or spent hours thinking through how the issues Levitin raises have broad and sometimes unintended consequences.
And yet, I find it difficult to rate this book more than 3 stars. It was dense, and not in a good way. There were long sections of under-edited rambling. The author was over-indulgent with his
Peter Mcloughlin
I don't relate well to self help books. If I read a self help book I want it heavily disguised as nonfiction. This book is such a book. It is a clearing house of recent findings in psychology and brain science that involve everyday life and information on the internet. It does not give a recipe or winning plan but merely relates fascinating information about how our brains work and how information works on the internet. The self help advice is deeply disguised as a nonfiction presentation which ...more
Sahar Sabati
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
In an eye opening NPR talk, Harvard professor Ann Blair discusses how information overload is certainly not unique to the digital age. This same concern accompanied every invention related to any increase in our ability to more efficiently share more information.

The question of organizing information started the instant humans invented writing. How will the information be stored? How will it be categorised? How can it easily be accessed, seeing as how the same information can be the answer to ve
Robert Muller
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
The one thing this book has going for it is that it is organized, no doubt about it. It is also much too long and in need of serious editing, another case of way too much writing for the actual content. I was going along pretty well on the content until we got to the chapter on hard decisions, in which he introduces all kinds of stuff relating to making life-and-death decisions. He talks about statistics, probability (confusing the two, actually) and decision theory. The valuable part of this ch ...more
May 14, 2015 rated it liked it
This is an excellent book, but the wrong one for me at this particular time. Much too dense, while I am starting to slip into my “Summer Festival of Reading Fluff.” Lots of good information on the organization of the brain and how to work with your weaknesses, rather than against them.

It is entirely possible that I will read this again (preferably during the winter, which I habitually think of as part of the “School Year”) and get much more out of it the second time.

Not the book’s fault—just bad
Rob Dudek
Feb 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Quite a good read, but like so many others - it (most likely) has barely any information that you haven't picked up already from other books/articles. If you're new to the subject of 'attention' then yes, definitely give it a quick read - the book has many practical tips and facts that you'll find useful. E.g. Thinking takes energy - neurons require glucose and oxygen - so spend it on the things that matter. Otherwise, I'd say that there are better books out there that you'll find a lot more use ...more
Apr 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An extraordinarily good book that covered so many subjects and has an immense impact on my life. It covers all aspects of how our mind is organized in our every day life from making decisions about tough medical situations, organizing our stuff, making decisions and a wealth of other areas. Probably the best written best edited non fiction I have read this year. I have bought copies for others and mine is out on permanent loan....
Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am super-organized and still love reading about organization (classification, categorization, cataloging, sorting, all that kind of things), productivity, efficiency and, as s result of all that, creativity. And i am a data analyst. So i did found what to learn from or enjoy in this book. Particularly was delighted by details of affordances. I use those all the time (intuitively) and now i know how they are called by smart people and that those are actually being studied.
Hamideh Mohammadi
I liked the idea behind this book (deserving 5 stars), but man was it verbose and disorganized (-2.5 stars)!
Son Tung
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
This seems to be just right for me at the current level of knowledge. Ironically, i'm overloaded with infomation from this book, mostly on scientific explanation of the brain. And from solid science, small handy tips offered here make really good sense. Its for the best when i can find a justified reason for small advices on efficiency, creativity (which often see as short articles circulated on social media).

A few important points which i have to take note and digest slowly overtime:

- There ar
Vinod Peris
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it
The title of this book is an overload in itself, but the premise is solid. We are faced with too many choices today and these choices make us less happy, not more. And the trend is getting worse. Daniel makes his point by highlighting how the average grocery store now has over 40,000 unique products as opposed to less than 10,000 in 1975. Most of our needs revolve around 150 products and so we spend a huge amount of cognitive effort ignoring the thousands of items in the grocery store.

Phil Simon
Sep 09, 2014 rated it liked it
Disclaimer: I received a review copy gratis via the publisher.

Levitin’s topic is certainly a worthwhile one and he writes in an approachable style. I for one appreciated some of his references and personal stories. What’s more, Levitin has done his homework. I’m all for citing the works of others, and Levitin extensively references the work of plenty of prominent researches writers. (More on that below.)

At times, though, the book tends to wander. The Organized Mind doesn’t read like a single tex
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wanted some helpful hints, but I felt overwhelmed by the amount of information in this book which kept reminding me that there is an overwhelming amount of information in the world right now, too much for us to process. For example, the author claims that in 2011, Americans took in five times as much information every day as they did in 1986---the equivalent of 175 newspapers. During our leisure time (just leisure!) we each process 100,000 words every day. The world has 21,274 television stati ...more
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book itself is information overload, with an abundance of disparate ideas, themes, and anecdotes. Too much stuff makes for poor organization.
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Daniel J. Levitin runs the Laboratory for Musical Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University, where he holds the Bell Chair in the Psychology of Electronic Communication. Before becoming a neuroscientist, he worked as a session musician, sound engineer and record producer. He has written extensively both in scientific journals and music trade magazines such as Grammy and Billboard.

More about Daniel J. Levitin

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“The neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks goes one further: If you’re working on two completely separate projects, dedicate one desk or table or section of the house for each. Just stepping into a different space hits the reset” 11 likes
“As the old saying goes, a man with one watch always knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure.” 11 likes
More quotes…