I don’t think I often wear the busy-ness badge of honor or complain about how busy I am, but I think a list of my recent commitments might help you see why I’m trying to get away from busy. So, here’s what I’ve had going on in the last year that I would consider beyond my minimum job duties:
- Chair of my department
- PI of a $525,000 grant
- PI of a $50,000 grant
- Co-PI of a $5,000 grant
- Chair of my church’s Board of Christian Social Action
- Member of my church’s Council
- Teaching two overload courses
- Co-Chair of an international conference
- Secretary of an international organization’s board
- Overseeing the work of 7 doctoral students
- Overseeing the work of 4 undergrad researchers
- Helped create/launch 2 new Master degree programs
- Member of faculty senate
- Member of faculty senate executive committee
- Vice chair of IRB
- Member of an ad hoc university curriculum revision committee
- Presented 10 research papers at national conferences
- Had 4 papers accepted for publication
- Reviewed 4 manuscripts for journals
I’m sure I missed something, but you get the point. These things are all on top of my main job: teaching. I am on a few other committees, but at least some service is part of the expectations for the job. I’m quite certain there are others out there with longer lists, so I am not looking for sympathy. Indeed, I enjoy doing almost every one of these things.
And that might be the problem.
When we enjoy things, we just might be willing to give too much to them. So I’ve started doing some soul searching and trying to not prioritize based on what I like to do, or even what I’m good at. Instead, I’m trying hard to reflect more about what I see my as my purpose. I think I’ve always had a pretty good notion of purpose, but I think it is easily clouded over by things I enjoy or even things I’m capable of doing. Going forward, I’m trying harder to worry less about whether I’ll enjoy something or whether I might be good at something. Instead, I’m asking if that thing helps me achieve my purpose.