Saving My Time (And Sanity): Managing “Can I Pick Your Brain?” Requests

Wed, Feb 21, 2024

People seek your counsel once you’ve achieved some success (real or perceived). It’s flattering at first but can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t learn how to manage it.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far as I work to manage this double-edged sword.

I really like helping people (color me naive, but I believe most people do). I’m always flattered when someone asks for my advice or opinion, and I do my best to serve where I can. When the requests come through sparingly, it’s a welcomed recognition that I’m on the right track.

The requests began to pick up in frequency and magnitude at a certain point.


I get at least a dozen “Can I pick your brain?” requests daily.

It’s easy to manage requests from people I don’t know. My team has a template that outlines the options I make available.

The real problem has been managing requests from people I know, especially if I like them or feel obligated to maintain a certain decorum. I hate getting a request to connect from someone I like when I feel I don’t have the time to honor the request correctly.

A few things that have helped (context-dependent): If someone asks to schedule time or jump on a call, I’ll message back and let them know I’m booked but can text if their question is quick.


When it works, it works well and lets me help without disrupting my day.

If the request is bigger than a quick text can accommodate, I’ll ask them to email me so I can get back to them on my own time. I’ve actually written a public article on the power of asynchronous communication.

I will go as far as sending them a link so they don’t feel personally slighted.

And finally, if they absolutely have to hop on a call, I’ll send them my booking link and let them pick a time that works for them. The issue here is it’s not uncommon for me to be booked out weeks ahead. Sometimes, people see that and become more receptive to the email option.


For people who don’t want to work within these parameters, I have a difficult choice to make.

I can bend my schedule to their needs (something I’ll do if they’re important enough to me), or I can let them know that’s all I have to offer and I’m sorry it’s not enough for them.

As you can imagine, this can be poorly received.

The problem is that trying to accommodate everyone’s demands would mean never being able to work on what’s truly important to me. This is the necessary sacrifice on the road to accomplishment.

As a people pleaser, it’s a hard one. I’d love your input and advice on this!

How do you manage “Can I pick your brain?” requests?