The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.
Daniel J. Levitin. New York: Random House.

“Our brains are busier than ever before. We’re assaulted with facts, pseudo facts, jibber-jabber, and rumour, all posing as information. Trying to figure out what you need to know and what you can ignore is exhausting.”

Daniel Levitin is a psychology professor with a passion for explaining how our brains work and how to use this knowledge to help our brains manage what can be an overwhelming volume of information. His key message is to take the strain off our brains by organising our personal environments so we pay better attention to what is important and organise information as it flows in.

The first section of the book is largely an explanation of current thinking about brain function, with a few tips included. It’s worth persevering with these chapters as they provide the rationale for the advice to follow. As a fan of lists, I was particularly pleased to find they are recommended as a brain extension tool.

Part two then focuses on what we need to do to organise our homes, our social world, our decision–making and our businesses. Levitin recommends we choose from four categories of action: Do it; Delegate it; Defer it; Drop it. If something can be done in two minutes or less, he says, just do it.

Multitasking, Levitin calls the “the ultimate empty–caloried brain candy”. We think we’re doing two things at the same time but what we’re really doing is losing concentration and jumping inefficiently from one thing to another.

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