As you might have guessed by my absence, I have been a bit overwhelmed and trying to dig myself out for the last weeks. I am writing one proposal due 9/15, writing another short proposal due 9/29, giving a seminar at another university (next week), giving a seminar at my own university (next week), preparing for two conferences early october and early november, and writing an invited paper due 11/01. Oh, yeah, and setting up my lab. Umm, it was a bit ambitious, but seemed like such a great idea at the time.
So what do you do when you find yourself committed to way too many things, and not really in a position to back out of any of them? The first time this happened to me was in grad school, when I was taking this class that takes 20-30 hours/week in homework, plus trying to get data out for a conference I was attending. My advisor was practically screaming at me to forget about the class, but I ethically couldn't give it a lackluster effort and feel good about it. In that case, I did
end up letting the class slide a little, resulting in a 1 letter grade drop in my final grade. But what did I learn from all that?
Finding myself in this predicament increasingly often (I now understand why no one can ever find professors in their office): I thought I would give you my thoughts. I would also appreciate any of yours.Digging Out of the Hole
1.Do NOT take on any new projects that are not absolutely required. Even if you really, really want to. [There goes my women in STEM stuff for a while, (sigh)]
2.See if there is anything that can be politely dropped or backed out of.
3.Prioritize remaining projects from most important to least important. This is difficult. Most important does not mean favorite, it means most likely to advance your career.
4.Let the little things go. Get take out for dinner, consider the laundry service at the dry cleaners.
5.Work on the projects with the highest career impact first. As deadlines for less important projects approach dedicate a limited amount of time to completing them. Do not use more than the allocated time.
6.And the hardest part, learn to realize that you don't have time for everything and get comfortable with turning out less than perfect work. Also, learn how to tell when people won't notice it is less than perfect, and economize on those ideas rather than the important ones.
Well wish me luck getting out of my hole. Oh and on top of everything else my mother in law and mother are coming this weekend. Yahoo!