The short answer is: YES!
If you constantly help other people or let yourself get distracted by requests for favors of people in need of a helping hand:
- You might end up not getting the things done that you had planned.
- You might run late on your most important tasks or projects.
- You might get a feeling of irritation or anxiety because you are setting yourself and your own priorities aside.
Does this mean that you should never be helpful to colleagues, friends, family, or even strangers?
No, not necessarily.
As with everything else in life, the trick is to strike a balance. And I’m a big fan of being generous and helping other people where you can. I would by all means encourage you to go out into the world (or in your home or office) and be helpful to other people!
But before you do so, please take a second before you to consider whether it’s appropriate to do so right now.
If you realize that it’s not a good time to help right now, you have several options (and probably many more than I list here):
- Ask if you can help later instead. Of course, you should only do so if you mean it and if you expect to have time to help the person at a later time.
- Say no, but that you’ll be happy to help later or at another time. Of course, you should only do so if you mean it.
- Say that you will be happy to take a quick look at it, but that if it takes more than 2 minutes, you’ll unfortunately not be able to help right now. Stick to the 2 minutes! And beware that this is a dangerous path to take: When you let yourself be interrupted, you might never get back to the task you were working on.
- Suggest somebody else that might be able to help them now or later.
- Simply say no. If you feel like it, you can gently explain why you cannot help now and/or what project that you’re working on right and what the consequences will be if you don’t get this work done today.
The fantastic thing is: If you manage to strike a good balance, people will often respect you more, because you show that you respect yourself and your own time and priorities. And if you manage to strike a good balance, you might find yourself having much more time and energy to help other people because you always make sure you stay on top of your most important projects. So when you decide to help someone, you can do so with your complete attention and feel happy and relaxed while you do so.