Using a Triage Test to Assert Your Priorities (Dr Tracey Stead)

Updated: Apr 12

Insights, ideas and resources from Tracey Stead and participants on the FLF Development Network's Bridging Course on Being Strategic

"Every day I find myself saying ‘Yes’ to something that just doesn't support my goals."

"I’m overwhelmed with current commitments and suspect I should have said ‘No’ to many of them."

Sounds familiar?

Research is ever-expanding in nature and there will always be opportunities coming your way and people knocking at your door, particularly as you are an FLF and people in your department want your involvement. There will always be new, interesting, exciting (or the dreaded 'mandatory'!) opportunities popping up over and above your day job and the things you'd planned to do.

So, when faced with these commitments and opportunities, how do you keep your mid- to long-term goals in mind and consciously make choices that support them. This is a vital skill for leaders and one we explored in the second Bridging Session on ‘Being Strategic’.

The Triage Test

Setting triage criteria for your work and research opportunities can help you focus on the urgent and important, much like a doctor in the emergency department.

You can use your triage criteria to:

  • choose opportunities to spend quality time on – ones that will lead you towards your goals

  • identify tasks that might distract or delay you from your goals - so you can decline or minimise your commitment

Set Your Criteria

A triage test is best applied to medium or long-term goals – what do you want to have achieved by this time next year?

Devise three questions to help you evaluate whether engaging in a new opportunity get you to where you want to go (or let you lead the life you want to lead)? Be clear how your choice will enable your future vision and the desired outcomes you want to achieve.

Here’s a triage test I’d been using to decide what projects to take on:

  1. Will it enable me to build my networks?

  2. Will it mean I can spend more time working from home?