Are you the person that your coworkers go to when they have a problem? Are you always available to assist them when they need it? If so, you’re obviously a nice person and an excellent team player! But you could also be spreading yourself a bit too thin. If you spend a lot of your time helping others, it can be more challenging to get your own work done.

There are a lot of reasons why you probably enjoy collaborating with your coworkers. You like helping people, you like being viewed as friendly and knowledgeable, you like being seen as an expert in your area, you like to be in control of situations, etc. But even though helping others can feel really good, it can also lead to feelings of stress and exhaustion – and ultimately burnout.

So what should you do? Well, you shouldn’t stop helping your coworkers entirely. That would be mean and wrong! But you should try to put a limit on it. Author Sue Shellenbarger offers the following suggestions:

  • Protect your personal time – If helping out a coworker will cause your workday to stretch into the evening or weekend, you should politely decline.
  • Get your work done first – If someone asks for your assistance, you can agree to help out. But tell the person that it will have to wait until you get your own work done.
  • Ignore nonessential emails – It’s great to be responsive, and it would be wonderful if you could reply to every single email that you receive. But if you did that, it would likely eat up way too much of your time. Protect your time by replying to the important emails and letting the nonessential ones slide.
  • Get realistic about meetings – If you agree to attend every meeting that you’re invited to, the meeting organizers would certainly appreciate it. But you would also have little time left over to get your work done. So review the meetings that you attended over the last few months. Are there any that were a waste of time? If so, you should skip them in the future.


Shellenbarger, S. (2018, July 23). You could be too much of a team player. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: