Thoughts About Think TQ

I came across Think TQ last year at about the time my son Caleb was born. A look through gmail shows that I started receiving their daily emails on August 5, 2005. At the time I found the TQ site, I had read David Allen’s Getting Things Done and I was searching for ways to apply what I gleaned from the book to my own situation and life. For someone who has spent as much time as I have reading about time management and buying into systems, I sure am a procrastinator and a very inefficient performer.

I started with the Franklin system around 1996 while involved with a certain multi-level marketing scheme which I will not name but I am sure it will not be very hard for you to guess. ( See Merchants of Deception for more information.) Franklin later became Franklin Covey and is a good system but can become very intensive with prioritization. David Allen’s system proposed some interesting concepts such as keeping tasks undated and off the calendar but on seperate context lists. This is an interesting idea, but not one I’ve been able to follow wholeheartedly for reasons I will discuss later. Part of this reason is what sent me looking for websites that offered tips on how to implement GTD for my own particular situation, which led me to ThinkTQ.

One of the biggest problems that I have with most time management systems is that they are all mostly geared toward salesmen and executives. I hate looking for a productivity book and finding that most of them are geared toward selling. I hate selling. I have no talent for it, and no desire to sell anything. I’ve tried multi-level marketing and I hate it. Even if it is not just a huge pyramid scam, no matter how many times I read "The Magic of Thinking Big", nothing will convince me that selling is a skill that is part of my makeup. Just give me a computer to fix or an information system to design or a technical problem to solve and I will be  happy. Tell me to sell a product and I’d rather live under a bridge. I can’t even sell the idea to my wife to pick up a six pack of beer for me while she’s out. I don’t sell, and likewise I have little interest in reading books about how to sell better. I recognize that there is some selling inherent in everything, and I am not saying that I won’t try to "sell" myself to a prospective employer or "sell" my ideas to my management. However, I am not going to sell anybody soap, and I am surely not going to sell "owning your own business" again.

The other end of the spectrum, as I said, is executives. Again, not everybody searching for ways to manage time better is an executive. Getting Things Done seems to be geared for this crowd, and it does not exactly help technology centered peons. As Merlin Mann so eloquently pointed out, most computer geeks only have one context: @computer. We carry our laptops around all day or we go from one computer to the next. I go to work and log into my computers at home through Log Me In when I have time. If I put a task in the @computer context, I wouldn’t even know which computer I meant.

While Getting Things Done focuses on highly practical tips and techniques, I think it falls short in several areas. Most GTD disciples will refute that, and I’m happy for them. I’m glad they find it to be a perfect, faultless system. I don’t. Something occurred to me one day while I was reading a discussion forum about GTD. One poster pointed out that GTD is great for people who get 1000 emails a day. Suddenly, I wondered what particular value or long term goal would lead you to stay in a job that left you burried in email day in and day out. That opened me back up to Franklin Covey.

I finally got around to reading Steven Covey’s 7 Habits this past Spring. The book had been out for more than a decade and a half, and I just read it. Covey also takes an approach that seems to be geared toward managers and consultants. He tells a lot of stories and spins a lot of platitudes. These are inspiring but seem to fall short on application for a low level computer geek. I am simply not creative enough to apply ideas written for an executive with a secretary and a staff to delegate to in my own life when I can’t even write a script to automate Windows XP tasks. That would be the limit of my delegatory abilities and powers. Oh, wait, last week I did manage to delegate my laundry to my wife, but only because I had a really busy schedule and she wanted to go out of town Thursday night. I can delegate putting my dog to bed to my 2 year old, but he can’t quite close the latch on the kennel yet, so that’s not really delegation.

All of this led me back to Think TQ. For most of the year, I have glanced over their emails, read relevant quotes, and ignored the rest. I almost canceled my subscription a few times, but I was too lazy and it is free anyway. I recently began to take them more seriously and I went back to their site to retest my Time Quotient, which I did test last year when I found the site. When I retested I found that my TQ went down from abysmal to just plain pathetic. I think that a TQ score below 80 means that you don’t accomplish much, and I didn’t even score an 8. I also don’t think I’m being that hard on myself. I feel that I answered the questions truthfully.

I have been debating the last couple of weeks on whether or not to buy the complete ThinkTQ system, which includes their custom book "published just for you", all 10 workshops, and a screen saver as well as complete access to their site. I took their offer for a free CD, and I chose the "Act Now" color of the time prism.

I am really impressed with the fact that the TQ system is not geared toward any strict demographic. They do not focus on salespeople or executives and their materials are applicable to anyone. I really like that. They have no platitudes. Even though their materials are highly repetitious, they are full of simple and practical actions that can be taken right now to improve your situation. Most of them are total common sense, such as "I plan my day around my values, vision, and mission". If you think about it, however, that affirmation is very deep. What exactly are your values? What is your vision? What is your mission? I couldn’t even answer all three of those questions right now. TQ provides a system that helps you to discover those 3 things as well as so much more about yourself that you can put into practice for immediate results.

One thing that disturbs me about TQ is that there is almost no information on the internet about it. When I search for TQ, I get plenty of hits from their site, as well as a few other URLs that are either purchased by them or are from affiliates. Most of them have the same information, word for word, as the ThinkTQ.com site. I think that if they truly have as many customers as they claim, SOMEBODY would write on their blog about their experience for others to read. The only testimonials seem to be in the possession of ThinkTQ.

One option that I have is to simply purchase the personalized book along with a CD for approximately $40 plus shipping and handling. If the system for some reason isn’t very good, that’s no problem. However, if I decide that I really want the full system, I have to pay for the whole thing. This is a tough choice.

It is apparent to me that this system is not fluff. A lot of time, energy, and research went into it and I am impressed with what I have seen so far. I think this a great mix of all of the best time systems combined. GTD is good for low level or runway time management, or the day to day stuff. Franklin Covey helps a lot with high level management or values and lifelong goals. I do firmly believe that value based time management is the most effective, while context based task management is highly effective, and ThinkTQ really does a great job of putting these concepts all together.

When I changed the format of my blog, I was originally going to call it "Bring Back Franklin Covey- value based time management for peons". I first named this blog "Eric’s Watchtower" because I was going to do socio-political commentary. You can see that some of my earlier posts followed this line, but I gave up because the world has way too many socio-political bloggers and most of it amounts to less than farting out the window. I settled on "Life Integration" for my format change because I don’t believe in compartmentalizing life. Life should be a healthy balance between all of the factors that make it up in your individual case. I am a husband and a father, yet I’m also a computer geek. I’m an "information worker". All of these things make up who I am and how I live along with many other roles like church member, citizen, etc. My goal is to share information on how to balance all of these in a healthy way.

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