How do you make decisions about your academic life? Here’s the thing: one of the reasons that you’re feeling overwhelmed (oh, sorry—not feeling overwhelmed? Drink a margarita for me, please), is that you don’t have a process for vetting new opportunities that come your way.

How do you make decisions about your academic life? Here’s the thing: one of the reasons that you’re feeling overwhelmed (oh, sorry—not feeling overwhelmed? Drink a margarita for me, please), is that you don’t have a process for vetting new opportunities that come your way. This is how we get to the point of having five academic articles/book chapters/conference papers that are 80% done, but nothing under review. This is how we teach three preps that are completely unrelated to each other, and to our research area. This is how we end up on a hundred committees, again, mostly unrelated to our specialization.

There’s an acronym for this: FOMO. Fear of missing out. An opportunity comes along that you think would be great, like contributing a chapter to an edited volume, and so you say yes because you’re afraid to let that opportunity go by. In a slightly different way, your department chair assigns you three preps—none of them related to your specialization—but you fear missing out on better opportunities in the future by saying no now, so you suck it up. Same with committees. We fear that if we say no now, there will be negative consequences in the future, or opportunities will suddenly stop coming along.

It would help to have a clear process for making decisions when opportunities (or demands) come your way. So I made you a process. And there’s a flow chart! (I’m geeking OUT.) Let’s get started!

Put in your email to download your flow chart so you can follow along:

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This process is meant to show you how to judge opportunities and intelligently evaluate them to see if you should take them on or politely decline. It basically consists of three questions:

  1. Does this opportunity build my academic brand? (For more about academic branding, check out this post or sign up for my new mini-course).

If you’ve been following my blog you might already know that academic branding is not so much about “marketing yourself” as it is about knowing yourself and making decisions that support who you are and who you want to be. That’s why I encourage academics to create an academic mission statement and use it to double-check their decisions. If an opportunity does not align with your academic mission statement and brand, it’s a “no.”

  1. Do I have the time and resources to manage this project?

You probably have your working hours booked up completely (and then some). So a better way to ask this question might be: What will you have to cut in order to take on this new project? Everything takes time—email, writing, meetings, planning, supervising—so be realistic about how much of your precious time this new opportunity will take. Are you willing to cut something that you are currently doing in order to take on something new?

  1. Is this an opportunity that will have a big payoff (in terms of career advancement, satisfaction, or joy)?

I think we neglect this question in general. Not every opportunity will have the same impact, or impact you and your career in the same way. I generally try to encourage academics to take on high-impact opportunities, and leave behind low-impact ones. Again, that’s because our time is limited.

Things can impact you and your career in different ways. Publications can have a direct monetary impact on your career: you might get a job or a promotion because of a robust publication record. But there are other ways to measure impact. For example, will the opportunity give you joy? Or satisfaction that you are working towards your academic mission? These types of impacts also need to be considered.

OK, now that you have this process set up, I’d love to hear how it’s working for you. Comment below or hop over to the I Should Be Writing Facebook group and post about it!

Don’t forget to download your flowchart! I made it pretty so you can print it and hang it in your office. 😉

Also, if you or anyone you know is interested in academic branding—which I think is the first step towards time management, more publications, and learning to say no—check out my new self-paced mini course which will walk you step-by-step through creating your academic brand!

Take care,

Cathy

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If you fill this in, you will be marked as a spammer."><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> </div><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> <button class="subscribe_button ck_subscribe_button btn fields" id="ck_subscribe_button"><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> Get the flowchart!<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> </button><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> </form><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> </div><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --></div><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --></div><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><style type="text/css">/* Layout */<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> .ck_form.ck_naked {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> /* divider image */<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> background: transparent;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> line-height: 1.5em;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> overflow: hidden;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> color: #666;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> font-size: 16px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> border: none;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> -webkit-box-shadow: none;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> -moz-box-shadow: none;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> box-shadow: none;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> clear: both;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> margin: 20px 0px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> text-align: center;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.ck_form.ck_naked p {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> padding: 0px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.ck_form, .ck_form * {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> -webkit-box-sizing: border-box;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> -moz-box-sizing: border-box;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> box-sizing: border-box;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.ck_form.ck_naked .ck_form_fields {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> width: 100%;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> float: left;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> padding: 5%;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->/* Form fields */<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.ck_errorArea {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> display: none; /* temporary */<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->#ck_success_msg {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> padding: 10px 10px 0px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> border: solid 1px #ddd;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> background: #eee;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.ck_form.ck_naked input[type="text"], .ck_form.ck_naked input[type="email"] {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> font-size: 18px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> padding: 10px 8px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> width: 34%;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> border: 1px solid #d6d6d6; /* stroke */<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> -moz-border-radius: 0px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> -webkit-border-radius: 0px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> border-radius: 0px; /* border radius */<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> background-color: #fff; /* layer fill content */<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> margin-bottom: 5px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> height: auto;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> float: left;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> margin: 0px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> margin-right: 1%;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> height: 42px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.ck_form input[type="text"]:focus, .ck_form input[type="email"]:focus {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> outline: none;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> border-color: #aaa;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.ck_form.ck_naked .ck_subscribe_button {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> width: 100%;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> color: #fff;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> margin: 0px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> padding: 9px 0px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> font-size: 18px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> background: #f1826f;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> -moz-border-radius: 0px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> -webkit-border-radius: 0px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> border-radius: 0px; /* border radius */<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> cursor: pointer;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> border: none;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> text-shadow: none;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> width: 30%;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> float: left;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> height: 42px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> }<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.ck_converted_content {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> display: none;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> padding: 5%;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> background: #fff;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->/* max width 500 */<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> .ck_form.ck_naked.width500 .ck_subscribe_button {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> width: 100%;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> float: none;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> margin-top: 5px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> }<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> .ck_form.ck_naked.width500 input[type="text"], .ck_form.ck_naked.width500 input[type="email"] {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> width: 49%;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> }<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> .ck_form.ck_naked.width500 input[type="email"] {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> margin-right: 0px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> width: 50%;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> }<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->/* max width 400 */<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> .ck_form.ck_naked.width400 .ck_subscribe_button, .ck_form.ck_naked.width400 input[type="text"], .ck_form.ck_naked.width400 input[type="email"] {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> width: 100%;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> float: none;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> margin-top: 5px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> }<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.ck_slide_up, .ck_modal, .ck_slide_up .ck_naked, .ck_modal .ck_naked {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> min-width: 400px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.page .ck_form.ck_naked {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> margin: 50px auto;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> max-width: 700px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->/* v6 */<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.ck_slide_up.ck_form_v6, .ck_modal.ck_form_v6, .ck_slide_up.ck_form_v6 .ck_naked, .ck_modal.ck_form_v6 .ck_naked {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> min-width: 0 !important;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.ck_form_v6 #ck_success_msg {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> padding: 0px 10px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->@media all and (max-width: 403px) {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> .ck_form_v6.ck_modal .ck_naked {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> padding-top: 30px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> }<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->@media all and (max-width: 499px) {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> .ck_form_v6.ck_modal .ck_naked + .ck_close_link {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> color: #fff;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> top: 10px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> }<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->.ck_form_v6.ck_slide_up .ck_naked + .ck_close_link {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> right: 10px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> top: -5px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->@media all and (min-width: 600px) {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> .ck_form_v6.ck_slide_up .ck_naked + .ck_close_link {<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> right: 35px;<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --> }<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->}<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --></style><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->

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