The Organized Mind Book Summary - The Organized Mind Book explained in key points
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The Organized Mind summary

Daniel Levitin

Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

4.3 (675 ratings)
17 mins

Brief summary

The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin is a guide to managing overwhelming amounts of information. It explains how to strengthen memory and concentration, prioritize tasks, and create effective systems for improving productivity and reducing stress.

Table of Contents

    The Organized Mind
    Summary of 9 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 9

    The brain can only focus on a limited number of stimuli at a time.

    The brain processes and organizes information through various systems. One of those systems is the attentional system, which determines the way your brain handles and organizes information – anything your brain pays attention to, in other words.

    In the creaky old house that is your brain, the attentional system is one of the pillars holding everything together.

    Over thousands of years, evolution developed a more nuanced system that can be neatly summed up in one little sentence: our brain evolved to focus on one thing at a time. This thing was always the most important thing.

    Just picture our ancestors, tens of thousands of years ago, on the hunt. They’re hiding in a bush, clutching their spears. It was a matter of life and death for them to be able to set aside any possible distraction and focus every ounce of their attention on the wooly mammoth – or whatever they were hunting. Only the most important things (like an approaching predator) disrupted their thoughts and caught their attention.

    Nowadays, we put our attentional system under stress, because our brains aren’t equipped to cope with the flood of new facts and sights that we face everyday. These days, we’re constantly attempting to do many things at once. Driving a car, listening to the radio, thinking about an upcoming business meeting – it’s not unusual that all these things happen simultaneously.

    Here’s the key message: The brain can only focus on a limited number of stimuli at a time.

    One way we can see how our brain is better at focusing on fewer things is that our brains are more interested in change than constants.

    There’s an easy way to show what that means in real life. Just imagine you’re driving, and suddenly, you notice the road is bumpy. The crazy thing is, a few moments before, you weren’t consciously thinking about how flat and smooth the street was! That’s not useful information. It is useful to notice and think about the street if it suddenly feels bumpy. You could be in danger: the  road could be treacherous, or you might have popped a tire.

    The point is, the brain notices the bumpy road because it’s different and dangerous, and doesn’t notice the harmless flat road because it’s expected and harmless.

    Again, your brain focuses on what’s most important.

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    What is The Organized Mind about?

    The Organized Mind provides an insightful explanation into the way our brain handles incoming data – a process particularly relevant in this age of information overload. It’s also a practical guide to coping with the multitudes of decisions we’re required to make in everyday life. By learning well-thought-out strategies that will help you organize your life, you’ll become a more productive and effective worker in any task.

    The Organized Mind Review

    The Organized Mind (2014) by Daniel Levitin is a thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of the human brain and how we can effectively navigate the information overload of the modern world. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Packed with fascinating insights and research, it offers practical strategies for managing information, tasks, and minimizing distractions.
    • Levitin delves into the nuances of how our brains function, providing a deeper understanding of why we struggle with organization and how we can improve.
    • The book combines science, psychology, and personal experiences, making it engaging and relatable, leaving readers with actionable takeaways to improve their daily lives.

    Who should read The Organized Mind?

    • Anyone who wants to be more organized
    • Anyone who is interested in the way our brain processes data
    • Anyone struggling with the information overload of modern life

    About the Author

    Daniel Levitin is a cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist. He is particularly well known for his work in music theory. He has authored several best-selling books, including This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, and The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature.

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    The Organized Mind FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Organized Mind?

    The main message of The Organized Mind is how to declutter our minds and improve focus in the age of information overload.

    How long does it take to read The Organized Mind?

    The reading time for The Organized Mind varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Organized Mind a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Organized Mind is worth reading as it provides practical strategies to enhance productivity and make sense of a chaotic world.

    Who is the author of The Organized Mind?

    The author of The Organized Mind is Daniel Levitin.

    What to read after The Organized Mind?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Organized Mind, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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