The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload (Hardcover)
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.
About 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.
Praise for The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload…
Praise for THE ORGANIZED MIND
“Levitin is about as knowledgeable a guide to neuroscience as one might hope for...”
—New York Times Book Review
"[An] impressively wide-ranging and thoughtful work..."The Organized Mind" is an organized book, but it also rewards dipping in at any point, for there are fascinating facts and examples throughout."
—The Wall Street Journal
"From how not to lose your keys to how to decide when the risks of surgery are worth it, Levitin focuses on smart ways to process the constant flow of information the brain must deal with."
—The Washington Post
"[M]ore than a self-help book...Levitin's insights into sleep, time, socializing and decision-making are profound."
— San Jose Mercury News
"[An] ingenious combination of neuroscience and self-help."
"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 lists, overflowing junk drawers, and cluttered schedules."
— Library Journal
"Thought-provoking and practical-minded...this book may help you organise your
life, and it definitely explains why you should."
—The Sunday Times of London
“Dan Levitin has more insights per page than any other neuroscientist I know. The Organized Mind is smart, important, and as always, exquisitely written.”
—Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University, author of Stumbling on Happiness
“Combine genuine knowledge and scholarship with plain common sense and what do you get? A book that is really worth reading: Dan Levitin’s The Organized Mind.”
—The Honorable George P. Shultz, 60th U. S. Secretary of State
“There are surprising parallels between Levitin’s work and mine. Today’s environment in war, business, and just about everything else has increased in speed and complexity to the point where the essential quality required for success is adaptability. The Organized Mind provides the latest neuroscience on cognitive adaptability and how to apply it to so that leaders can excel. It is a tremendous achievement, and a must read for leaders at every level.”
—General Stanley McChrystal, U. S. Army (ret.)
“A brilliant and engaging book about the science of thinking. The Organized Mind provides the tools that we all need to understand and manage the deluge of information that assaults us every day.”
—Jerome Groopman, MD and Pamela Hartzband, MD, Harvard Medical School, authors of Your Medical Mind
“A profound piece of work. Levitin documents the mismatch between our narrow bandwidth hunter-gatherer minds and the multitasking chaos of today’s world. He even shows us how to stay sane in environments that are constantly tempting us to stretch ourselves hopelessly thin.”
—Philip E. Tetlock, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
“An erudite synthesis of Levitin’s own contributions, recent advances in our understanding of attention and memory, and a deep perspective on the ways the human mind works.”
—Stanley Prusiner, M.D. Nobel Laureate, director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of California, San Francisco
“Daniel Levitin’s book follows in the ancient tradition of knowledge as a guide to a better life. Discover the creative power of organized thought, whether you are a writer or a scientist, a disorganized mess or a super robot seeking new frontiers of effectiveness.”
—Eric Kaplan, co-executive producer and writer, The Big Bang Theory, writer, The Simpsons and Flight of the Conchords
“An eloquent spokesperson for our field. Levitin writes about the brain with an ease and familiarity that is captivating.”
—The late David Hubel, Nobel Laureate in honor of discoveries concerning information processing in the human visual system
“Fascinating… Combing neuroscience and cognitive psychology, the Organized Mind underscores the critical importance of individuals taking charge of their own attentional and memory systems so they can lead optimally productive and satisfying lives. Invaluable insights are offered with regard to organizing our homes, social world, time, decision-making, and business world.”
—Nadine J. Kaslow, Ph.D., president of the American Psychological Association and professor and vice chair, Emory University School of Medicine
“This book is far more than tips on how to think clearly and manage information overload. It is also a tour through some of the most exciting aspects of contemporary neuroscience and cognitive science, with a specific emphasis on implications for everyday life. Anyone who has ever wondered about the mind will find much that is fascinating and useful in these pages.”
—Stephen Kosslyn, dean, Minerva Schools of Arts and Sciences at the Keck Graduate Institute, former chair, department of psychology, Harvard University
“Running a major PBS television series on tight budgets and turnarounds requires organization and efficiency and sometimes a little magic too. Levitin’s behind the curtain peek at the brain’s inner workings of decision-making provides that extra bit of magic—and would make a fascinating documentary in and of itself!”
—Pamela Hogan, Emmy award-winning Producer for PBS
“A how-to book on how to stay sane—how to tamp down on that fire-hose of information and choices that we face each day, and direct it all toward our own goals and purposes. It’s an owner’s manual for your mind.”
—Congressman Alan Grayson, U.S. House of Representatives
“In the age of TMI, we all need better organized minds. With characteristically clear prose and scientific insight, Dan Levitin gives us tips on how to get or mental closets in order. I really enjoyed this book.”
—Joseph LeDoux, Center for Neural Science, New York University
“Dan Levitin has done it again. Having explained music and the brain, now he shows us the best, most effective ways to organize the rest of our life by giving us key insights into how the brain works. His style is so appealing, his knowledge so deep and practical, that we learn, from The Organized Mind, not only why we do what we do, but how, potentially, we can run our lives more smoothly, efficiently, and even happily.”
—Cathy N. Davidson, director, The Futures Initiative, City University of New York, author of Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn
”Using the latest information on the brain and how it works, Levitin presents a series of ideas on how to organize one's life and business. Essential reading for anyone who aspires to be highly effective. Or even find their keys!"
—David Eidelman, MD, dean of the McGill University Medical School
“The Organized Mind is for anyone interested in how the human mind organizes, and on occasion disorganizes, the world around us. It is engaging, witty, compelling, and infused with science. Levitin shows how principles from psychology and cognitive neuroscience can help us better organize our daily lives. Move over, Freakonomics, there’s a new kid on the bookcase.”
—Gerry Altmann, professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut, and author of The Ascent of Babel
“Daniel Levitin takes us from the prehistory of thought and language, and our hunter-gather ancestors, right up to the middle of the information explosion we are all living in right now. From filing cabinets to smart phones, calendars, multi-national businesses and Wikipedia, he reveals the science behind how we organize our world—and how we can do better. An extraordinary work from one of our most gifted writers.”
—The late Phil Ramone, producer, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Elton John, and Luciano Pavarotti
“Levitin is funny, informative and insightful. It’s like having a friend who’s a neuroscientist showing you how creating a little order in your brain can unlock so much creativity.”
— Len Blum, screenwriter, The Pink Panther, Meatballs
“The Organized Mind reads like a movie— not the dry tome you might expect. It’s an exciting tour through the science of productivity and how to best manage your thinking to get things done—and be more creative at the same time."
— David Allen, author of Getting Things Done
“Bring[s] to light interesting perspectives on this increasingly relevant topic.”
—Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft
“The time is rapidly approaching when insights driven by Big Data will dominate not only most business decisions but also many choices we make in our personal lives. So when I read a review of Levitin’s book, I sat up and took notice because I’m bombarded by information every hour of every day. Levitin does an excellent job in discussing the science of thinking in language that’s not only clear and informative but also entertaining. Readers of this book will get a better understanding of the mind along with some valuable guidance on how to exploit the emerging world of Big Data."
— Mark Hurd, co-CEO of Oracle Corp.
Praise for This is Your Brain on Music
“An unusually deft interpreter.”
--New York Times
“Deepens the beautiful mystery that is music.”
--David Byrne, founder of Talking Heads
Praise for The World in Six Songs
“Will leave you awestruck.”
--New York Times
Masterful… Eminently enjoyable.”
--Los Angeles Times
“A fascinating, entertaining book… may stick in your head forever.”
--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love