Lives with daycare drop-offs, graduate students to monitor and department chairs to please can be hectic. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that we can actually do much more than we think we can – when our priorities are in-line. I am also amazed at how well things work out, despite not doing things that I am told are “essential” or “expected.” What would happen if we stopped doing the things we are told we ought to do but don’t want to do?

Work-related night and weekend social events, happy hours, and parties are all things that I used to attend out of obligation. I would sit there the whole time wishing I was home with my family, waiting for the moment when the first person would leave, so I could closely follow. Now, I never go alone unless I absolutely want to be at the event. If it doesn’t work for my husband to come with me, and I don’t really want to be there, then I say no. It’s not that I don’t love spending time with my co-workers, it’s just that my husband and kids are a higher priority. Now, I am more comfortable being assertive.

Similarly, I felt the same peer pressure to say yes to specific committees, evening teaching-times, and late afternoon meetings. However, because of my personal priorities, I have been able to stop attending these things out of guilt or obligation. I speak up if something doesn’t work due to family obligations and push to reschedule. It’s not that I’m able to go to every school event for my kids, but if I really want to be there, I can usually make it happen. Any times in which no daycare is available for (before 7am or after 6pm) are an automatic no. If I don’t have the courage to speak up, who will?

There will likely be times that my career opportunities are affected by these decisions. It is just as likely that you may be more productive in other areas or generate different opportunities by saying no to work activities you do not really want to do.

More Resources

Acting on the Essential

How to REALLY Manage Your Time

Please, Just Say No

Working with the Kids at Home? Tips from an Experienced Parent

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