Back to Perlmutter. Here's a taste:
What if everyone just looked out for No. 1? The entire promotion-and-tenure system—which depends on altruistic volunteerism—would collapse. Nevertheless, there are many situations where taking too much time, trying too hard to do good, or doing good for the wrong reasons or for the wrong person can lead to career trouble, or worse.Absolutely true. Spending lavish amounts of time on teaching is a good way not to get tenured, or, if you're tenured, not promoted.
"Good deeds most punished" goes for service, too. If you're organized and at all good at service, like Dr. Crazy, your reward is . . . MORE service heaped on you, which makes less time for research. If you're disorganized, not terribly present, or just difficult to work with, your punishment is . . . LESS service and more time to write.*
Come promotion time, guess who gets rewarded? The one who served on committees, compiled assessment data, wrote reports, killed a writing day to watch someone's presentation, and organized and ran meetings? Or the "no service, no thanks" faculty member who did none of these things and spent the time on research?
I'll bet that took a long time to figure out.
I'm thinking back to profgrrrl's great advice earlier this year: she said that, just we're advised to do on airplanes, we should put on our own oxygen masks first before assisting others. If you don't take care of what matters to you first, whether in scholarship or in your personal life, the rest of your time is going to be eaten up by others' priorities, and nobody is well served in that way.
It's worth remembering, even on 12-hour days when the first minute you have to think about your own work may be during the 13th hour.
*My colleagues aren't like this, but still.