Time Management Fail

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote up a personal mission statement with the hope that it would help me focus my activities.  This was followed a few days later by a meeting with my thesis committee, which, as always, helps me to refocus my research and my career goals.  For the past couple of months, there has been a lot of activity in many aspects of my life.  Frankly, I let myself get overwhelmed.  My problem is, I say “yes” to every opportunity that comes along that looks interesting. In the meantime, I take on too much responsibility, real and imagined.  Maybe I’m still trying to “find myself.”  I don’t know.  What I need to start doing is saying “no.”  No thanks, that sounds really interesting, but I have so much on my plate right now.  It takes a lot more effort than I realized, to say no to something interesting, but it is the more responsible thing to do.  After all, why say yes to doing something when I may let that person down because I am already so overwhelmed?

There are not enough hours in the day, or days in the week, for me to do everything that is interesting or a great opportunity.  I’m working to scale down my current commitments and not feel guilty about it.  If you ask me for something, and I say no, don’t take it personally!  I’m still figuring this all out and working to be realistic about my life.

Anyway, since that was a more serious and personal post than I often write, here are some pretty pictures from my most recent field work trip to Green Bank to get our field mowed with losing our cables and antenna positions.

Pretty fall colors have hit western Virginia. Click to embiggenify.

Understaffed and under time pressure, we ate our lunch while working outside. Erin, you are a trooper!

5 thoughts on “Time Management Fail

  1. Hi Nicole,
    I can fully appreciate your problem; I suspect it’s one of the more common ones in astronomy. It’s just so fun to think up interesting problems to look into; and so much harder to actually do the detailed work and write the papers.
    One thing I have learned to do is say no to proposals (e.g. Chandra) which I don’t think are likely to succeed. I’m slowly learning not to write proposals which I don’t really want to analyze the data from (or write the paper for), even if I think they can get time.
    good luck!
    -Craig (H)

  2. Hi Nicole. I too have the same problem. I have started saying no to things that people assumed I’d do (so they wouldn’t have to). They don’t seem to appreciate that when I explain that I am too busy, I really am too busy (I’m reading this over breakfast in case anyone thinks I could be doing something else :-).

  3. Thanks, guys. I appreciate hearing that I’m not the only one with this problem. I mean, there are just too many interesting things to do…

    I feel like my research was more unfocused in the beginning b/c I said yes to working on everything, and I can’t do that. Heck, I didn’t have the expertise as well as the time. So, I’m focusing in that aspect, I just need to continue to apply it to the rest of my life. 😛

  4. Hi Nicole,
    It’s been a while since I commented but I just wanted to say, this is true generally in academic life, not just astronomy! I managed finally to get my thesis submitted (although not yet examined) but all the time there were exciting archaeological projects I wanted to be part of, but had to say no to. It’s important to remember that the people who want to work with you respect you professionally, and so they will be interested in the future even if you can’t join them right now.
    Good luck.

  5. Hi Nicole,

    This comment is slightly off-topic, but related enough that I thought I’d offer it. A related problem is the inability to say no to non-research projects when you’re working in a support role with only part time for research. In these cases, however, I’ve found that you actually GAIN respect by saying no to support work (as long as you don’t abuse it, at least) in order to concentrate on your research. Let’s face it, research scientists types only respect other research scientist types. You can be great at your support duties, but if you don’t make the time to do your research as well, you will likely not get the respect or advancement you seek.

    Learning to say no is a skill worth learning!


Comments are closed.