When do you say “no” to invitations?

It is a commonplace of academic life that we all need to learn to say “no” to requests and opportunities. The ability to determine our own priorities is a great privilege–one that not all of us are lucky enough to have. I am, therefore, grateful to know that I can turn down invitations. However, I rarely actual do.

How do you decide when to say no? What is too much to do in any given week or month or semester? How often do YOU turn down invitations to present or collaborate?

I LOVE what I do, and I’m so delighted to get more and more opportunities to work with exciting people on fascinating projects of many sorts. In recent years, I’ve accepted as many invitations as possible. I LOVE working collaboratively and talking about the areas of my research, so each invitation seems like a gift.

But how much is too much? Am I being selfish by accepting invitations, when I could direct them to other colleagues who might welcome them? Am I short changing my students or colleagues, because my attention is so scattered?

Clearly I need to set some priorities, some guidelines for myself in making decisions to add new items to my calendar. How do you determine this?

I know so very many academics with incredibly busy schedules. How do you prioritize? How do you know if you’re giving yourself enough time to focus on a project so that you can contribute your best work on it?

I’d really love to hear how you manage these decisions for yourself.


Leave a Reply