With web development (and other areas I assume), time seems to never be enough. There’s always more work to do, more emails to reply to, more meetings to attend, and if you’re in a relationship, more time you should be spending your significant other and possibly kid/s/. 24 hours in a day just doesn’t seem to cut it. Now, this could be a side-effect of poor time management (guilty as charged here), but even with good time management, you will probably find that you have very little spare time at work.
Because of this, you can easily come up with the excuse that you’re busy when your colleague asks you for help with the problem they’re facing. I’m going to share some reasons as to why you might want to help them instead.
Get a Break From Your Current Project
I know – sometimes you’re “in the zone” and everything goes smoothly – you write code with ease and solve any problems quickly and without too much hesitation. However, those times when you feel stuck in your current project, focusing on another problem for a little bit can help you continue on. You’ll get an active break from thinking about the problems you’re facing – you’ll still work your brain muscles but in a different direction.
Learning new things
This is especially true when the problem your colleague is facing is something you’ve never encountered before. Learning how to solve it is a win for both of you. Your colleague gets a fresh set of eyes and you get experience dealing with a new issue in a low pressure situation.
Increasing Your Co-worker’s Skill Set
As you’re exploring the solution, make sure your colleague understands what’s going on. Even if it’s just a few details about why you are doing something or how you are approaching the problem, understanding your logic and problem solving pattern can help them solve similar problems on their own in the future. After all, if you want your job to be easier, you want to make sure that the people you’re working with are constantly improving.
For Fame and Glory! (Or a Little Recognition)
I like helping people – so much that I have to work late hours to try and keep up with my own projects. It was so extreme in the first company I used to work for that my boss asked me to stop helping my colleagues, as it was having a negative impact on my own performance. However, even now the people I used to help that are still working there tell new people about me and my passion for coding and helping. And quite honestly – that feels good. Granted that on it’s own will not give me any wider recognition, but just knowing that to this day people appreciate the time I’ve spent helping them is great.
If you happen to work by yourself, then my advice would be to find an appropriate answer board (one of the Stack Exchange sites, or a LinkedIn/Facebook/etc. group). When you feel stuck with whatever you’re doing right now, go there and find a challenging question (depending on your own level). Research it, find a solution and write a good and detailed answer – I’m sure the person that asked the question and anyone that finds it will be thankful for your time!
There will also be people that will try and take advantage of you. They will see your help as a quick way to get out of difficult situations and won’t care about you doing your job. It can be expressed in them asking for help even for the most minor issues that can be solved with a simple search. They can also ask you to help them multiple times with the same problem. If that’s the case, then politely explain to them that you also have your job to do. Suggest a way that they can easily troubleshoot things on their own and the steps they should take in order to try and resolve it on their own. After all, Sometimes It Has To Be About You.