My friends know I work on bikes and always ask for help with their projects. I really enjoy helping the community, but feel like I’m running out of time to work on my own!
How can I support my community without burning out?
The positive of being the neighborhood wrench is that everyone knows where to find you, and the positive of being a nice guy is that they know you’ll stop what you’re doing to lend a hand. Like most of us, you prefer being seen as helpful and friendly.
But you’re also experiencing the downside of such open boundaries: not knowing when, or how, to say no when their projects are consuming all of your spare time. Following “gee, that sounds like a great idea” with conversation about a project of your own you are currently working on, and ‘that’s taking up all of my spare time,’ may be a polite way to let them know you aren’t available.
Luckily, there are quite a few options between keeping your doors open all hours and slamming them shut in everyone’s face. If you enjoy working on bikes, would it be fun to teach your friends to work on their own? Hosting an occasional wrenching class to cover some of the more common projects you are asked to help with, for example? Or maybe you can bring in others with expertise to share their knowledge with the group?
Perhaps having a regularly scheduled ‘open shop’ time where those with things they want help with can gather at your convenience for a set amount of time, such as setting aside one Saturday a month when friends can sign up for help with a particular project and others can drop by to watch or offer assistance.
Supporting your community doesn’t mean doing it all yourself. Sourcing a reputable shop that you can refer others to can reduce the pressure to be all things to all people, and will also communicate that while it’s fun to help now and then, you aren’t a full service repair garage. It’s really okay for them to be paying for what until now has been freely given.