Most research shows that helping others makes us feel happy and energized. But the reality is that lending a hand to coworkers can often be exhausting, draining our cognitive and emotional resources and leaving us too tired and depleted to perform subsequent tasks. So how can you help colleagues while protecting your productivity?
First, it’s important to recognize that, in addition to its positive effects, helping has negative effects that may persist for hours or days.
Second, if you are feeling depleted, take actions to restore your energy: Take a break, go for a walk, or sneak in a nap.
Lastly, give yourself permission to put off the request for help. You may not want to refuse outright (though that’s an option too) but you can agree to assist at a future and more opportune time for you, such as the end of your workday or workweek after you’ve accomplished your own goals.