In a prior article on the topic of time demands I made a statement that is the cornerstone of my training: a time demand is an individual commitment to complete an action in the future.
I mentioned the fact that we create them in our minds, using a combination of imagination and volition. Until this event takes place, a time demand doesn’t exist – it hasn’t even been born.
What then of an unread email message that includes an important, and urgent time demand? According to the strict definition, it is not actually a time demand until it comes to our attention.
But does the email have some importance? Is it worth tracking? Is it worth separating from the other spam that’s in our Inbox, or lying on a gmail server in cyber-space?
After the fact, it’s clear that the email contains something that’s important before it’s read, so I’m coining a new definition: a “potential trigger.”
A “potential trigger” is a piece of information that may trigger the creation of a time demand once it’s read. As I mentioned in the article linked above, it may exist in the form of an email message, a tweet, a voicemail or even a letter in an envelope. Potential triggers are sent to us 24-7, and as working adults we have an agreement with our employers to take them seriously, collect them in some way and to examine them for time demands.
In other words, if a colleague sends you a potential trigger, you are obliged to process it in some way.
This isn’t rocket science by any means, but it appears to clear up some of the confusion in the way I use the term “time demands.”