A reading club with a view to the future

534 Daniel J. Levitin: The Organized Mind

Daniel J. Levitin explores the science behind how our brains process information and provides strategies for managing information overload.



"The Organized Mind" by Daniel J. Levitin delves into the intricacies of human cognition and offers practical advice on how to navigate the overwhelming amount of information in the digital age. Levitin discusses the brain's organization, attention, and memory systems, highlighting how they can be harnessed effectively to enhance productivity and decision-making.


  1. Title: The Organized Mind 
  2. Author: Daniel J. Levitin 
  3. Publishing Year: 2014 
  4. Publisher: Dutton 
  5. Length in Hours: 16 hrs and 19 mins

5 main ideas

  1. Our brains have limited cognitive resources, and understanding their limitations is essential for optimizing productivity.
  2. Information overload can lead to decision fatigue and decreased efficiency, but effective organization techniques can alleviate this burden.
  3. Multitasking is a myth—task-switching comes at a cognitive cost, impairing performance and hindering focus.
  4. Externalizing and offloading information frees up cognitive resources and reduces mental clutter.
  5. Cultivating a healthy work-life balance and incorporating downtime and rest is crucial for maintaining cognitive performance.

5 funny quotes

  1. "I find that 'unsubscribing' from annoying email lists gives me the same sense of accomplishment as cleaning out the refrigerator."
  2. "Coffee: the original nootropic."
  3. "In the digital age, losing your smartphone is the adult equivalent of losing a beloved childhood toy."
  4. "Organizing your thoughts is like herding cats—just when you think you have them all in line, one jumps over the fence."
  5. "Sometimes the best organization method is just closing your laptop and taking a nap."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "We're not thinking machines. We're feeling machines that think."
  2. "The organized mind pays attention to the thing that's most important right now."
  3. "The problem is not information overload. It's filter failure."
  4. "The real problem is that we have only one brain and it evolved for a different world than the one we now find ourselves in."
  5. "The mind is a limited-capacity resource; it can only hold so much at once, and the more it tries to hold, the less effective it becomes."

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing the desire for novelty and exploration with the need for focus and deep work.
  2. Navigating the tension between digital connectivity and the need for uninterrupted concentration.
  3. Deciding which information is truly valuable and worth retaining amidst the sea of available data.
  4. Addressing the challenge of organizing and categorizing digital files and documents for easy retrieval.
  5. Managing the psychological impact of decision-making fatigue and cognitive overload.

5 examples

  1. Google - Known for its innovative approach to organizing and categorizing information.
  2. Steve Jobs - Emphasized simplicity and minimalism in product design to enhance user experience.
  3. Marie Kondo - Introduced the concept of decluttering and organizing with her "KonMari" method.
  4. Evernote - Popular digital note-taking app designed to help users organize their thoughts and information.
  5. Warren Buffett - Known for his disciplined approach to decision-making and focus on key priorities.

Referenced books

  1. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  2. The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz
  3. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  4. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  5. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

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"Organizing your thoughts is like herding cats—just when you think you have them all in line, one jumps over the fence."

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