It turns out that my friend wasn't blowing smoke when I got the heads up about being an external for a PhD defense and traveling for the defense. Honestly, I'm honored, a bit freaked out by the responsibility and excited for the event, but I am also watching my last semester of almost no teaching get filled up before my eyes. People have asked me what the time sinks are in this job outside of the nebulous "meetings" and I'm not usually sure exactly how to answer that question. I guess I would say that there is always something lurking which needs to be done. Here's a brief run down of the commitments I have for this fall semester, which have nothing to do with teaching, data analysis or getting my own work done:
The Albatross: The 20,000 word chapter I agreed to write.
Organizing the department's invited seminar series (which wipes out an afternoon a week).
An invited seminar that I will be giving.
Chairing a societal Education Committee and organizing a training workshop for next summer's meeting.
Co-organizing a local sub-discipline meeting for about 120 people.
Serving on a PhD defense committee and traveling for the defense.
Serving on our department's grad committee
The potential commitments:
Serving on a journal editorial board.
Being a panel member for NSF.
I'm sure I forgot a few things, but that's all the shit I can think of right now that I would consider outside of the regular day-to-day stuff. That doesn't include supervising my three grad students, preparing for a lecture/lab course in the spring, writing grants or data papers, reviewing papers, etc. I'm sure people more senior to me are looking at that list and thinking "that dude has it easy!", but I guess that's the point. The commitments just keep building in this job and it's not always easy to define all the things that suck your time like a million mosquitoes. I'm not complaining so much as trying to keep the long and short term tasks in my head so that I can prioritize what I do each day. There's a lot to juggle and every now and then someone tosses another ball into the mix.