One of the truisms of our profession is that assistant professors have to protect their time and learn to say no so that they can get promoted and tenured, and that senior scholars have to make this happen. Fair enough. (Yes, I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have a t-t job.)
Another truism of our profession is that associate professors have
to protect their time and learn to say no or else they'll never make full, especially women faculty, who often do a lot of service. Senior scholars should make this happen, too. Fair enough.
A third truism of our profession is that senior scholars and full professors are--to judge by the Chronicle and other chatter about the web--pretty awful: self-absorbed, selfish about their time, and generally interested in making life miserable for their juniors. All that NYTimes kvetching about millennials and their avocado toast is nothing compared to how the press sees professors.
I want to be accommodating and helpful. I'm a full professor and happy to step up, right? To write letters and reviews of all kinds, right? To go to campus for an hour-long meeting that completely kills a research day or show up to warm a chair at an event, right? After all, where am I going to go from here?
Here's the problem. Because I technically can, and because I don't want to be THAT guy, I say yes to obligations. And I think I am happy to do so, at the time.
But it's taking me longer and longer to do the reviews, letters, and the rest, because I procrastinate about writing them. Why? Because I don't really want to but feel that I ought to, so I do twice the amount of work on them that I would normally do in an effort to feel enthusiastic about it. I can't seem to just wade in and git 'er done (which, in academic terms, is still a lot of hours).
For every article review, I think of my own articles, all things that are not getting done because I'm doing work on someone else's work. Peer review is important, and we should all do it cheerfully.
As I should. Or should I?