Time Wasters: Not My Problem

Scary title, Huh? Those of you who know me know I have a helping spirit. There is nothing wrong with that and the world benefits from people who do. But you can take anything to an extreme.

Every once in awhile I have to remember that every problem out there isn’t there for Julie (if you tend to be like me, insert your name here) to try to solve. If you do that all the time, the work you need to be doing will not get done because you are out trying to solve the world’s problems.

You can get sidetracked real easily in real life and even more so if you have an active online presence. You will find that you want to help this person or that person, answer this question or follow up on that topic or issue but you can only do so much.

Pick your spots, so to speak.

You don’t have to eliminate every outreach or helping task. The basic principles of a network are that you do want to give to build networking relationships but to be able to get your own work done whether it is working on a job search or career change, a job you presently hold or even your work around the house, you need to set limits so you can work on your own goals and move forward.

Ask yourself when you are tempted to jump in to help, should I let this one go? Should you say, “Not My Problem,” now and then? Make sense?


  1. Ed Han on June 7, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Honestly, I think that there’s a reason the expression “enlightened self-interest” came about: specifically because people tend to want to help. There is nothing wrong with holding back a little bit for you: if nothing else, it enables you to be better the next time you give more.

    But achieving some balance between giving and focusing one one’s own needs can be a real challenge for the give-oriented, to be sure.

    • Julie Walraven on June 7, 2010 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Ed! I love this line: “But achieving some balance between giving and focusing one one’s own needs can be a real challenge for the give-oriented, to be sure.”

      I believe in helping, just have to make sure I stay on task so my clients aren’t disappointed.

      Thanks for stopping by, blessings on your job search!

  2. Kim Woodbridge on June 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I am struggling with this right now. I started to feel like my energy was been taken away from me constantly without any coming back to me. I had to get “strict” about it and pull back. The problem now is I *feel* bad for not helping everyone who asks 🙂

    • Julie Walraven on June 7, 2010 at 1:49 pm

      For me, Kim, it isn’t always even that they ask. I see a tweet go by and I offer. I do respond to e-mails and calls too and I know you were inundated with questions on your blog and had to set limits. That’s understandable!

  3. Davina on June 7, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Hi Julie.
    I feel the same way, and as a life coach I have to be careful with this. I have to learn that coaching is not problem-solving and that I’m not fixing anything for anyone. It’s hard to resist the temptation to help in that case.
    .-= Davina´s last blog ..Sleeping with the Muse =-.

    • Julie Walraven on June 8, 2010 at 6:59 am

      That’s a very different issue, Davina. I didn’t even touch on the fixing part which often can become enabling if it is with friends or family. Thanks for stopping by and the words of wisdom! And I love your muse series! You are so creative!

  4. Melissa on June 8, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    A big part of the issue is what Kim mentioned, the “feeling bad” after you tell someone that you can’t help. That can just eat away at you, too.

    One good solution to both of these problems is identify people who can act as a back-up when you can’t do it. It makes it much easier to say “no” with a clear conscience.

    • Julie Walraven on June 8, 2010 at 5:45 pm

      I think Kim and I have different issues. I tend, as you may know, to jump in when people may not even ask me directly. Like the other night, a guy lost his dog, he told Tim so when I saw a car slow down, I asked if he was the one looking for his dog. I asked for his number just in case and then tweeted and FB’d it just in case… I know I would feel bad if I lost Teddy.

      I generally find one or more of those opportunities a day… someone posts a need for help… and if I can I do.

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