The “time problem” with being helpful

Continuing on the theme that you can buy time, I
got the following mail from a friend of mine today (names and locations obscured
to protect the innocent):

I wonder if
I can ask your advice on something (which, admittedly, will be somewhat

For the
past few months, I’ve noticed I field (as I’m sure you do as well which is why
I’m reaching out to you) about 10 requests a week from people who want (a)
general career advice (b) help marketing their new startup or blog or (c) an
actual job in new media/traditional media/press/etc.

wants to meet (a) for lunch [which is impossible because of work commitments
and meetings all day], (b) for drinks [also impossible unless I let this
interfere, in a big way, with social plans] or (c) for
brunch/coffee/drinks/etc. on the weekend.

At first I
took calls during the week, but that is no longer an option because of
work.  For the past 3 months, I’ve pushed everything to the weekend
days.  But for weeks upon weeks I’ve found myself in back to back meetings
all day, every day, giving marketing and job advice Saturdays and Sundays.

So, I’m not
sure how to handle this and wonder if you have any advice. 

I realize I
personally would never be even close to where we are without the unending,
brilliant and generous advice of people like you and other incredibly busy
people. But I also realize that working
all day during the week, then giving marketing and business advice every
weekend, is not sustainable. I would
really love and appreciate any advice (and sorry to burden you with this!)

think we all go through this.   the bad news is — there is no good
answer.   But there are time hacks to fit helping people into your
life. More in this on a future post …

4 thoughts on “The “time problem” with being helpful

  1. Pat Flanders

    i agree with ben…feel free to say, “sorry, i don’t have time for coffee, but 15 minutes on the phone would be great”…meeting for coffee, lunch, drinks, etc involves a lot more than it might appear on the surface. driving to the location, parking, paying for a meal, etc…it’s not a great use of time. that said, there’s nothing like face-to-face time to cultivate a relationship, but that should only come when it’s something that both parties feel invested in…

  2. noah kagan

    Help people help themselves. If there is general advice that you continually get put that information online. Also, qualify the people that are approaching you. Not that you want to be act more important than anyone but to make people do some work to meet you makes sense when you are getting too many meeting requests. Just some thoughts…

  3. Rena Cann

    I agree, that the phone is a powerful tool in getting to people today. A lot of the time we do not include the time that it takes to get from one location to another. Also, with the cost of gas, food, and parking, it can become quite expensive. We are practicing value added experiences.


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