3 Questions to Triage What Needs to Be Done

While a lot of new projects have been added during Covid-19, our expectations haven't shifted with the additional effort.

The last few weeks have thrown up in the air a lot of our rhythms, plans, and confidence. But it’s not just that those things have been unsettled – it’s also that new stuff has been added on top of what we had before.

What I’ve been reminding folks (who are open to it) is this: while a lot of new projects have been added or existing ones amplified, our expectations haven’t shifted with the additional effort. We can’t add homeschooling, additional time spent shopping and cooking, and additional time taking care of each other – on top of what we already had going on – and expect to get it all done.

The questions below are best considered at the monthly perspective, since they’ll then trickle down to the weekly and daily levels. Since the world is changing quickly, these questions are worth evaluating again in a month (or whenever things feel so different that you need to ground yourself again).

The three triage questions are:

  1. What responsibilities and projects do you want to excel or be great at?
  2. What responsibilities and projects can you be good enough at?
  3. What responsibilities and projects can you let go for now?

For instance, in normal times, maybe you keep the organization and cleanliness of your home one way, but during this time, you want to upgrade or downgrade that expectation. Maybe it serves you better to have a tidier home now that you’re in it all day. Or it may be you just don’t have enough forks to care about it, since no one’s coming over anyway.

Or maybe you had committed to a project at work that now no longer seems relevant in the moment. Instead of freezing the project (for a few months), or dropping it (because it’s dead), I’ve seen people still half-working on the project and/or keeping it sustained with commitment juice, and taxing their limited time, energy, and attention (TEA). The more projects you can freeze or drop now, the more TEA you have for the ones that are especially relevant in this moment.

Remember to triage the questions above before you think too much about the HOWs of each thing you’re considering. If you know you want to be a great friend, sister, or neighbor right now, you can then figure out what that looks like and match the level of work to the level you’re aiming for.

Lastly, give yourself the grace to let good enough be good enough right now. Pick one or two things to be great at, drop or punt what you can, and be good enough for what remains.

Originally published at

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