Of all the questions people can ask, I never expected, “How do you get it all done?” to be the most common. I never thought I’d be the person anyone referred to when they said, “If you need something done, give it to a busy person.” I often feel like I’m struggling against a hurricane rain of tasks, and periodically a wind hurled cow will land on my productivity. Still, I’m somehow keeping things moving, and I have to admit it’s largely because I give myself permission to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t.”
I suck at the whole work-life balance thing. I’ve trained people to know I work random hours that sometimes add up to all hours. Colleagues have no qualms looking at my calendar and adding a 1pm Saturday telecon to talk grants; they know I’ll make it work. Program officers have correctly known they could, in a moment of need, drop a grant on me to read on Friday and ask for a review back by Monday.
I’m that person.
When I was in the last year of my PhD, my advisor, John Kormendy, loaned me a biography of Chandrasekhar that detailed how Chandra was able to accomplish ...