Taking on a new leadership role in my department and working to balance both the work and the politics. The work is largely me not letting the small urgent get in the way of the big important items. I did some work over the summer evaluating what is important to my career (long term) and what gives me pleasure/satisfaction on the job. These items were somewhat different so I rank them both in my evaluation. Then I sorted my list of items and highlighted those that not rank highly on either list. These are my items I need to work on saying no to (at least sometimes). It has been helpful for me (and my need to please) to remember that these are not the things I want/need to be doing for success or happiness. Also along with this I looked at how much time was being spent on tasks and I was astonished to realize how many papers, grants, etc. I was reviewing. Obviously I can't avoid all of this, but when I am a regular NIH study section member, I don't need to review for every other agency/country that asks. Also, I need to focus on only accepting reviews that are beneficial for me from a time/reward/knowledge tradeoff. I realized I was reviewing on average at least 36 papers/year. So now I try to accept no more than 2 per month. I also learned that when you say no quickly, people are less mad. Probably because they at least have more time to find someone, where as when you say no 1-2 weeks later, they are in a bad place for their timelines. They might not be happy but at least they have more time. Also suggesting alternates is greatly appreciated (sorry to all those colleagues who are on my suggestion list).
Also I'm resisting getting too involved in the kiddos new school. There are lots of moms there who don't work outside the home and I don't really feel bad about them doing the lions share of room parties, field trips, etc. I learned you can spot them very quickly on the playground at drop-off time. They are the ones in their workout clothes who are headed to the gym after drop off. (Sorry I'm a little envious of the time to work out.) But, I've found the working mom's who power walk back to their homes to jump in the car and make it to work at an almost reasonable hour.
I'd love to hear about others tips/things that they are saying no to!