Daniel Levitin (The Organized Mind) Reminds Us – Work on One Thing at a Time, Fully, Fully Focused!

I present a synopsis of a business book – a new book for me – every month at the First Friday Book Synopsis. And, by the afternoon after I finish our event, I am already thinking about the next month’s selection. Sometimes, I forget the name of the book I just presented. (You’re right to think – “he’s not all that bright, is he?!”)…

But, I do usually have a sense of “this book is really important/useful” for most of the books I present. (I try to choose books that are useful and important).  And then, something happens to remind me of just how important those books are.

That happened this week with Daniel Levitin’s book The Organized Mind. I heard Mr. Levitin interviewed on the Diane Rehm show. A full, daniellevitin_carseniocoroa-with-book-cover111111substantive, thoughtful, focused interview.

I presented my synopsis of this book back in October, 2014 at our monthly event. And I long-ago wrote my “takeaways” blog post about the book: Here are My 6 Lessons and Takeaways from The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin. But the interview reminded me of the book’s importance.

Here are some words directly from Mr. Levitin:

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

A critical point that bears repeating is that attention is a limited-capacity resource—there are definite limits to the number of things we can attend to at once. 

Finding things without rummaging saves mental energy for more important creative tasks. 

Just having the opportunity to multitask is detrimental to cognitive performance. 

When we say that someone is focused, we usually mean they’re attending to what is right in front of them and avoiding distraction, either internal or external. 

And from the interview on the Diane Rehm show with author Daniel Levitin:

What we’re doing is timesharing our attention. We pay attention to one thing for a second or two and then another thing and then another thing and we come back around to the first. We fracture our attention to little itty-bitty bits without really focusing on any one thing.

People who uni-task, at the end of the day, their work is judged as being of higher quality and more creative and they’ve gotten more done than the multitaskers. But the multitaskers are thinking that they got a lot more done.

Here’s what I think. This book reminds us that we need to work on one thing; an important thing; the most important thing for that particular moment; in a distraction free, focused-zone of attention; for large chunks of time.

How are you doing with this? It is, sadly, a never ending challenge for me…


You can order my synopsis, with the audio recording of my presentation, plus my comprehensive handout, from our companion site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

And, be sure to listen to the interview with Daniel Levitin from the Diane Rehm show. Great interview – great counsel for your own probably too-cluttered mind and life. (The transcript of the interview is also available at the Diane Rehm site ).



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