Common Outlook Consulting Inc. New Perspectives
August 2015 - Issue # 15-08
Founder's Message

Did you know that if you're aware you have an unopened email waiting in your inbox while you're doing a project, that awareness is costing your effective IQ ten points?

Or that prostate cancer can successfully be left untreated in 47 out of 48 men?

Or that Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, uses a pen and notebook - not a Smartphone - to keep track of her to-do lists and on-the-fly thoughts?

Disparate statements, to be sure, but it's through the use of such dissimilar facts in The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, that Daniel J. Levitin, brilliant author and Psychology and Behavioural Neuroscience Professor at McGill University, illustrates the way the brain perceives, organizes, and retains information. And the ways we can externally fine-tune and organize that information so we don't get overwhelmed.

You can dive into any of its nine chapters and come away with a deeper understanding of how we can help the brain work for rather than against us (the parts of the book are on par with the sum of it). So, we think this 2014 Penguin book will prove to be one you'll pick up again and again.  Read our book review.


"A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention."
~ Herbert A. Simon (Nobel Laureate)


The Five-Minute Rule

Before starting your project or day's work, look at your to-do list. If you can get something done in five minutes, do it. And if you have a little more time, let's say twenty minutes, you can knock that list into a manageable size.

Now your brain can focus on work!


Coming Up  
Relationship Management. What does that mean? Well, it means what it says: how do we manage our relationships? Sometimes quite poorly, in fact. September's Newsletter will offer some pointers on how to do this in an authentic and meaningful way. Look out for our newsletter next month on this topic.


Book Review

One of life's great pleasures is to crack open a book by a well-known author, and find it not only meets, but surpasses one's expectations. So is the case with Daniel Levitin's The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.  


This book takes a fascinating look at how the brain works, and how in this age of infomania we can use external methods to put ourselves in the here and now of doing what we need to be doing. This is why electronic calendars and to-do lists can work so well; why successful people like Paul Simon write down their pertinent or extraneous thoughts, and why the author, like George Lucas, jots his on index cards.    


It's not that they (or you or I) can't process bunches of information, or park those thoughts or to-do lists in our heads; it's that the brain doesn't immediately classify information according to importance. As Professor Levitin explains: "Our brains do have the ability to process the information we take in, but at a cost: We have trouble separating the trivial from the important, and all this information processing makes us tired...

Read more 


Peter Hiddema


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