Don't Get Pigeonholed as a Low-Level Worker

Dear Bob ...

I have a reputation here for being a good writer. That's a problem, because I probably get 20 interruptions a week from friends and acquaintances that begin, "You're a good writer. I need to ..." followed by "send an important e-mail," "write a short report," "summarize some information," or some other minor task that involves putting words together in ways that are persuasive and easily understood.

[ More wise work advice on InfoWorld: "Thinking of going into business with a close friend? Think again" | Get sage advice on IT careers and management from Bob Lewis in InfoWorld's Advice Line blog and newsletter. ]

Then I'm trapped. I'm supposed to be a team player, which means helping out and pitching in. None of the requests are big ... mostly, they're tasks I can knock out in 10 or 15 minutes.

Each.

But I'm also supposed to do my own work, and while I'm not overworked, my manager does give me enough to do that I can easily stay busy without doing work for my teammates they're supposed to be doing for themselves.

Any thoughts on how I can say no without being branded as an unhelpful jerk?

- Unhelpful jerk

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