Distilled

In a recent visit to The World’s Largest Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, a good doctor friend of mine conducted an intervention lest I put one more book into my basket. Alas, I live just a few blocks away from a very large bookstore. Despite my attempts to resist temptation I often find myself in Indigo’s “just to look”.

Some time ago I came across a New York Times bestseller, The Organized Mind – Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload. I thought this would be something useful for me to read, so despite the doctor’s advice, I picked it up and leafed through the book.

I wondered if it was lost on anyone that this book about distilling information to get organized was 483 pages? I wondered if it could be rewritten into a more palatable, say, 200 pages? Or better yet, 90 pages?

But then they wouldn’t be able to charge $35.00 … or would they? Is a 483-page book more valuable than a 90-page book? Am I paying for quantity or utility? If time is money, perhaps a 90-page book is worth more than a 483-page book.

This brings to mind the value of taking the time to ensure economy of language in presentations. Too often, people speak in long, run-on sentences with too many ums and ahs. Listening to unnecessary verbal weeds such as “uh”, “ah”, “OK”, “so” or “like” is akin to driving over speed bumps on a road. It is bumpy and uncomfortable.

Then there is my personal gripe, “awesome”. There are more than 50 alternatives to the word “awesome” but it seems nobody has looked them up. Even seasoned politicians have the problem of peppering their speech with “um” and using the same adjectives over and over. Using a broader vocabulary projects an impression of being educated and knowledgeable.

A couple of weeks ago I found “The Organized Mind” on sale for $15.00 (CDN). I relapsed and bought it. I’m so glad I did. This book provides valuable insights into how we assimilate and process information and spells out practical suggestions for organizing life more efficiently on a day-to-day basis.

Dr. Daniel J. Levitin is professor of Psychology and Behavioural Neuroscience at McGill University. I recognized him as author of “This Is Your Brain On Music”, an excellent book I also enjoyed a couple of years ago.

Many years ago I corresponded with a friend who always wrote a one-page letter. On one occasion his letter was three pages. He signed off with a well-known saying, “Excuse the lengthy letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one”.

This article is already 435 words so I better sign off.

~ Christina Kaya

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