Use the Latest Science to Organize your Mind

Jill was a patient of Dr. Hammerness who was plagued by the consequences of her disorganization and forgetfulness.  She was helped by the creation of a launch pad, where she could empty her pockets upon arriving,  and find her keys when she was preparing to leave the apartment. This was example of the application of simple principles. 

In Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life: Train Your Brain to Get More Done in Less Time. Paul Hammerness, MD, a Harvard Psychiatrist and Margaret Moore, an Executive Coach have authored a guide to curing mental distractions, forgetfulness and much more. John Hanc also contributed as a coauthor (though his contribution might have been as an editor, because there was no visible footprint of his in the reading).

The approach taken suits the expertise of both Hammerness and Moore. The steps to getting control of our crazy life are introduced as Rules of Order as explained below:

  1. Tame the Frenzy – Acknowledge and manage emotions
  2. Sustain Attention – Maintain Focus and ignore distractions
  3. Apply the Brakes – Inhibit or stop actions or thoughts, when appropriate
  4. Mold Information – Capitalize on working memory to focus, analyze and process
  5. Shift Sets – Nimbly move from one  task or thought to another (NOT multitask)
  6. Connect the Dots – Bring together and apply all the rules.

Each section covers one of the Rules. It starts with a case study of someone struggling with the mentioned principle and Hammerness reviews the latest science about brain structure and behavior as relates to the principle. Finally Moore calls upon her experience as a professional coach, helping people make the necessary changes.

This approach seems in line with recent self help books that reference the latest brain science. The recent progress in brain imaging has been remarkable and seems to do a lot to explain more about why we act as we do. There are references included in the back of this book that allow the reader to probe deeper, though the number of references seem a little light for a book of this scope.

There are good ideas shared by Moore to implement change, but the connection between the science and rules seems a little contrived. As if the book started with the rules and then the science was added to give it credibility, or to make it an interesting read. “Mold Information” was an example of a concept that did not completely make sense to me. The case study is of a man who is very busy, but suffers from forgetfulness, and the section concentrates on Working Memory, but does not fully make the connection between that and Mold Information. The science referred to is gone over very lightly and includes mention of a Japanese study about the plasticity of the brain, but offers few details about it. The tips in Meg’s section make good sense and are worth considering.

I like one piece of guidance given for the Rule “Sustain Attention”. We are encouraged to look at the moments in life where we are in Flow. We need to analyze what is it that causes the Peak Attention at that moment. Maybe it is when we are addressing our specific strengths. She recommends taking a strengths assessment if we have not already. Such as :


She gives some tips to convert regular moments into flow activities.

The section of Mold Info also has some good ideas where work by Dr. Marie Pasinski  author of Beautiful Brain, Beautiful You: Look Radiant from the Inside Out by Empowering Your Mind is referenced.

The Appendix 2 of Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life: Train Your Brain to Get More Done in Less Time shares the Top 10 Disorganizational Complaints and their solutions. The solutions are simple and serve as a nice reminder of guidance shared by the book.

I recommend taking a look that this book and its practical guidance to get control of your disorganized mind.

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