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Information Overload: A System for Better Managing Everyday Data by Guus Pijpers

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Chapter 7. BRAIN AT WORK

A long time ago, a teacher in personal effectiveness taught me to reflect at the end of the day. In ten minutes, think about your day: what did you do; should you have done this; what could you have done better, and more of those kinds of questions. It was one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given. This chapter also incites reflection. It shows that you have to pay attention to what you are paying attention to. Furthermore, this chapter will discuss remembering and forgetting.

PAY ATTENTION

One of the most important lessons in this book is the importance of concentration. By concentrating, we are able to recall information from our memory. However, there are two limitations to focused attention: 1) it is selective, and 2) it is very limited. After all, you never know what information was retained in your memory. Concentration and selection are necessary; otherwise, mental information overload is not far away. Attention is your most valuable resource when processing information.

How do we actually decide the tasks to which we will give our attention? Several factors play a part in this. First, the brain always gives priority to voice and faces. Even though we may be totally concentrating on something, when someone calls our name they immediately attract our attention.

Second, even if we are able to concentrate well, that is nevertheless fairly subjective and limited. We are easily distracted. Our brain has trained itself to be alert to changes and react ...

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