Book Review: Getting Things Done By David Allen

GettingTHingsDone
Blocked-Up
Zy Marquiez
January 10, 2018

“We get such a kick out of looking forward to pleasures and rushing ahead to meet them that we can’t slow down enough to enjoy when they came.”
– Alan Watts

In an advancing age of speed, where the smallest circumstance can cost time and money, a way to warp through the morass would benefit any individual.  Getting Things Done is a book that not only helps individuals cut through the cluttering weeds of daily life,  but also helps narrow down with specificity the proper actions to be taken and how to sequence those in order to attain your goals.  Therein lies the simplicity of the book.

The book’s main tenet lies behind the ultimate value of “Next-Action Decision-Making Process.”  This next-action process is achieved by merely asking ourselves “What’s the next action?” or simply “What’s next?”  The task of asking ourselves what needs to be done not only increases our speed because we remain focused on completing tasks, but also increases productivity while also forcing accountability.  However, for all this to take place one needs to be precise.  For instance, saying one needs to go buy groceries is vague; on the other hand, saying one needs to purchase eggs, milk, bread, is not.  Such simple actions help dissolve much of the confusion that can take place in countless settings.  To be even more specific, one could also write down what store one would need to buy which specific items (if shopping at multiple places was part of the schedule.)

In any case, Allen also encourages individuals to write down their daily, weekly, and monthly goals in order to set their mind concretely on the right target, therefore employing the right steps.  Specificity here is also crucial, since the use of writing down specific action-steps through goals breaks down seemingly monolithic projects into much more manageable bite-sized chunks.  Such tangible actions are at the core of “getting things done”.

One of the critical suggestions Allen gives is in how one organizes tasks and thereafter sifts through these critical tasks.  This was my main reason for my purchasing the book, and the insights were highly valuable.  Along these lines is Allen’s two-minute rule, which is the one rule that has helped me the most given my nature and its practicality.  This rule boils down to whether or not a task can be done in two minutes; if it can, the task should get done on the spot – no waiting whatsoever.  If not, one gets to follow the proper “What’s the next action?” sequence and go from there.

With everything said, it is crucial to note that there are different editions of this book.  After reading reviews I chose to purchase the first edition rather than the latter one based on suggestions by a few people.   I noticed the latest edition, which is the third, is about 100 pages longer, although the content might be garrulous and didn’t seem to add any additional value in the eyes of the reviewers.  This is mentioned for consideration to others since there are multiple editions out there, some of which are more useful than others, depending on the circumstances.  The latter editions have been quite different, so please bear that in mind.

In any case, another significant component which added additional value to the book was the quotes on the margins.  Although the book could have been written without out them, the fact that the author chose to include these illuminating aphorisms help cement the points he was trying to make, and was very much appreciated.

Plain and simple, if navigating through life you run into ceaseless constellations of clutter, or merely want to organize part of your life, work, hobby, are a homeschooler or self-directed learner, even if just a bit, get this book.  Not only will this book help you streamline a lot of goals and save you time, but probably also save you money while also giving you immense peace of mind.  Complement this book with Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy, and you will surely have a template for success.

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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and Blocked-Up.com

Book Review: The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.

Trivium

Blocked Up
Zy Marquiez
January 5, 2018

In their How To Read A Book – The Classical Guide To Intelligent Reading [review here], Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren postulated that most published books out there will not be complex enough to teach the reader anything of true substance.  However, the authors also argued that there is a second tier of books “from which you can learn – both how to read and how to live.”[1] If I am bold to suggest, this particular book, The Trivium, is one of those books from which an immense amount can be learned because of its inherent nature of all it teaches.

The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D., is an exemplary book that touches upon critical aspects of learning and living which do not get the light of day in modern times.

As this passage by Marguerite McGlinn relates, which speaks incisively:

“Ultimately, Sister Miriam Joseph speaks most eloquently about the value of this book.  She explains that studying the liberal arts [The Trivium] is an intransitive activity; the effect of studying these arts stays within the individual and perfects the faculties of the mind and spirit.  She compares the studying of the liberal arts with the blooming of the rose; it brings to fruition the possibilities of human nature.  She writes, “The utilitarian or servile arts enable one to be a servant – of another person, of the state, of a corporation, or a business – and to earn a living.  The liberal arts, in contrast, teach one how to live; they train the faculties and bring them to perfection; they enable a person to rise above his material environment to live an intellectual, a rational, and therefore a free life in gaining truth.”[2][Bold Emphasis Added]

The Trivium, doesn’t just speak about the core tenets needed for a robust education, but shows all of its main components to boot, and more importantly, how to employ them.

This book also features not only a very methodical approach into the learning/teaching of Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric, but the book is also chock-full of myriad examples coming straight from the upper tiers of literary history which are used to cement each component of the Trivium.  Further, not only does this book explain in detail the core concepts of the Trivium, but at certain junctures it even offers some exercises in order to apply what one has learned and gauge an individual’s progress.

The Trivium is really a thorough presentation that encompasses everything from poetics, fallacies, syllogisms, propositions, grammar, composition, enthymemes and much much more.

By covering the foundational topics such as Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric, The Trivium goes light-years above and beyond most books that are ‘mandatory’ in the public school system.

Why such a bold statement?  Because the Trivium is the foundation upon which classical education was built upon in Western Education.  However, these days, the Trivium is essentially non-existent from education, after a tumultuous shift was taken away from these tenets.  Because of that the Trivium has been removed from the system of public schooling to the detriment of the students, families and generations.

If you’re a homeschooler, an unschooler, an autodidact, a self-teacher, or just someone that is seeking to teach someone, or simply wish to learn about these integral components of education, then ruminate deeply about getting this book.  Its lessons would benefit every individual come to terms with the greater learning capabilities that they always could have, but never found a way to achieve through the terribly lacking public schooling system.

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Sources & References:
[1] Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren, How To Read A BookMortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren. p. 332.
[2] Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D., The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Logic, Grammar & Rhetoric, pp. x-xi.
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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and Blocked-Up.com

Book Review: How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren

HowToRead
Blocked Up
Zy Marquiez
January 5, 2018

“A man is known by the books he reads.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Read not to contradict and confuse; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.”
– Francis Bacon

This particular book is a book that helps you think better, shaper, more incisively.

At the behest of the author of Socratic Logic [review here] Peter Kreeft PhD, the following book was recommended.   Holding Kreeft’s opinion in high respect – and after doing some research into the book – getting this book seemed to be more than a safe bet.  In fact, it was much more than that.

How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren is a phenomenal book in a multitude of ways.  Not only does it the book teach individuals how to read different kinds of books – by reading proactively, by rather reactively, for instance – but it also provides essential tools for the synthesis of other great – and more meaningful – pieces of literature.  But the book doesn’t stop there.

One crucial point the authors make is to point out the fact different type of genres should be read in different ways.  Put differently, different type of books demand different types of focus from the reader – poetry, plays or even fiction will be ready drastically different from nonfiction books, or better yet, medical studies or something more dense.  This is something that’s not taught to individuals for the most part, and it’s quite a crucial skill to be lacking in the age of information.

Throughout the length of the book, Adler and Van Doren cover an extensive set of tools for individuals to learn and implement in order to maximize their understanding of the information held within books and all reading in general.  The book features a wide ranging set of suggestions that build on themselves throughout the chapters and also help the reader navigate all the way from the basics to the more advanced.

With utmost precision, the authors show the lengths to which proper reading can be taken too, as well as the depth that can be gathered by undertaking their advice.  As an avid reader and researcher, the information within the pages of this book have helped me considerably not only in pushing myself as a reader, but in understanding – and even merging – the depth and scope of information that is stated, as well as sifting out deeper implications when information isn’t obvious.

Covered within How To Read A Book are topics such as inspectional reading, systematic skimming, problems in comprehension, ‘x-raying’ a book, coming to terms with the author, criticizing a book fairly, reading aids, how to read practical books, how to read imaginative literature, suggestion for reading stories, plays and poems, how to read history, how to read philosophy as well as much, much more.

Particularly of interest to me was the topic of syntopical reading, which is what the authors call ‘The Fourth Level Of Learning’..  In laymen terms, syntopical reading is the ability to essentially synthesize information from various sources.  Since synthesizing information is a process carried out [or attempted too] on nigh a daily basis by myself, the information for me in this particular section was quite noteworthy and immensely useful.  Admittedly, some of it was already being done by me since one learns how to streamline various components of one’s learning when done long enough, but the book still offered more than plenty to learn from in this and many other areas.

A book like How To Read A Book should be an integral component in everyone’s education, and that is no overstatement.  In an age where cognitive decline of education continues unabated, it’s those that push themselves into the realm of self-teaching or autodidacticism that will breakaway from the pack.

This book can easily function as a foundational piece in a school curriculum, because, after all, a sizeable portion of what individuals learn comes via reading.

Most of the suggestions in this book seep into most types of reading in some way shape or form.  When carried out, this undoubtedly filters into an individuals’ everyday lives proportional to how much its concepts are used, and I can certainly vouch for it.  There really isn’t too many books out there that urge the reader to go beyond the conventional baseline understanding of knowledge within books, but this book is certainly one of those precious few.

Appreciatively, the authors also make it a point to strive for a greater education as individuals, to seek to further one’s education beyond the bounds of modern schooling.  Mind you, schooling and education are not the same thing, which is an important distinction because what society gets in America nowadays – given that we have strewn away from classical education – is barely a facsimile of schooling, and in no way shape or form the true education of times past.  Authors like award winning teacher John Taylor Gatto’s in his landmark Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling, Dr. Joseph P Farrell & Gary Lawrence’s Rotten To The Common Core , and Charlotte Iserbyt, who served as the Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, in her The Deliberate Dumbing Down Of America, all outline various angles of the deliberate dumbing down of America quite saliently.  More and more people are beginning to speak out as well.

In any case, at the end of the book the authors also thankfully feature a set of the greatest books of all time for individuals to take into consideration.  Having read some of those books, it’s hard to disagree.  That book list is definitely something that’s worth considering for someone looking to extend their learning.

Furthermore, the authors postulate that there exists specific books which fall into the category of what they call ‘Great books’, such as The Illiad, The Odyssey, Organon, The Republic, Paradise Lost, The Divine Comedy, et al.  The authors state that only 1% of the millions of book out there – if not less – fall within this category of ‘Great Books’.  What makes this particular category of great books so unique?  That the gems of knowledge contained within these books, and growth the reader will attain will not only be quite extensive given the depth and immensity of the concepts within the books, but these books will teach you the most about reading and about life.  What’s more, regardless of how many times one reads these books, they are so profound and demanding of the reader that one will always learn something from them.

If you appreciate books, reading, classical education, or are striving to demand more from yourself or perhaps even plan on building a home-schooling curriculum, GET THIS BOOK!  This book really is for everyone.  Educated minds have great foundations, and this book helps lay those foundations in an ironclad manner.

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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and Blocked-Up.com

Book Review: Socratic Logic [V3.1] by Peter Kreeft PhD

An Indispensable Piece For The Autodidact; A Vital Component To Education For Individuals Of All Ages

SocraticLogic1
Blocked Up
Zy Marquiez
January 4, 2018

Having not taken a logic course since the university, attempting to find a book on logic that would be ‘worth its weight in gold’ took a bit of time, but this particular book has more than delivered in spades.

Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft PhD is an essential reading for everyone who values the use of logic.  In fact, going one step further, this book should be read by everyone, because we could all benefit from it in numerous ways.  Mostly though, most of us have not been taught logic at all, not in elementary school, nor in high school, and rarely in college.

This is taking place because logic, as well as the trivium have been nigh completely removed from most school curriculums and when they do have these courses, they are merely a facsimile of it, and nowhere near the quality of logic taught in times past.  You can ruminate upon why such a staple of education has been all but removed from mainstream education today.

Moving forward, this particular book showcases a very in-depth approach into all the nuances that are involved in Logic, while also keeping it simple so to speak.   Describing the book as ‘simple’ might be a misnomer, but when compared to The Organon by Aristotle, which is a much more complex/demanding read, this seems like a ‘walk in the park’.

Kreeft makes it a point to give the individual everything they might need to comprehend logic, from the ground up, as the book is sprinkled generously with many real world examples, historical quotes and conundrums that will make the book quite practical in its application once the concepts are mastered and implemented into one’s repertoire.

Socratic Logic serves as an excellent jump-off point into the realm of logic due to the pragmatic approach taken by Kreeft.

As the author himself states, the book is: simple, user friendly, practical, linguistic, readable, traditional, commonsensical, philosophical, constructive, clearly divided, flexible, short, selective, interactive, holistic, and classroom oriented.  After reading the book twice, those descriptions were rather precise.

Conveniently, the book also features a differentiation where one can find the basic sections (B) and the philosophical sections (P) marked in the table of contents.  This helps greatly in focusing on whatever specific area the reader might want to hone their skills in.

Also of note, the book – as mentioned by Kreef – may be used in at least 10 different ways:

[1] the basics only
[2] the basic sections plus the philosophical sections
[3] the basic sections plus the more advanced sections in logic
[4] the basic sections plus the practical application sections
[5] the basic sections plus any two of these three additions
[6] all of the book
[7] all or some of it supplemented by a text in symbolic logic
[8] all or some of it supplemented by a text in inductive logic
[9] all or some of it supplemented by a text in rhetoric or informal logic
[10] all or some of it supplement by readings in and applications to the great philosophers

What one gathers from the book will depend greatly on how much time one chooses to spend on it.  Socratic Logic may be studied independently for an autodidact, or used for schooling.  The book can be studied in single class lessons, once a week class lessons, semester formats, etc.

Another useful element in the book is that it features a healthy amount of exercises throughout the book in order to further buttress one’s understanding of the material.  This definitely helps bring home the concepts shown in the book.

Taking all into account, the principles discussed in Socratic Logic should have been the book taught in school.  In fact, it should be taught to everyone because our society lacks logic in myriad ways.  Then again, that is what happens with the removal of classical education and logic from the common-to-the-rotten-core type of school system we’re all “lucky” to have.

In the information age, not being educated and not knowing foundational pieces of essential knowledge such as logic that venture into every crevice of our lives, is folly.

And if conventional schooling continues on the downhill grade it’s at, knowledge in areas such as this will be worth more than its weight in gold, and that’s not an understatement.  With the student loan debt now over a trillion dollars and with real education dissipating right before our eyes within the conventional establishment, taking your education into your hands is not only responsible, but vital.

To further one’s education is a choice, and luckily Socratic Logic makes it an easy to choice to make.

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About Me:

Zy Marquiez is an autodidact. An inquiring and incisive mind. An open-minded skeptic. An avid learner. An individual who loves to ruminate about the everything within our reality. [Un]common sense advocate. Barnes & Noble Refugee. Reformed Carmel Macchiato addict & Part-Time Researcher.

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