Tuesday, April 5, 2011

You Want Me to Take Time to Volunteer?!

The issue of work-life balance has been coming up in conversation with my peers more and more lately. In fact, I'm moderating a panel discussion on the subject later this month. One common theme I'm hearing is the concern that there "isn't any time to volunteer" - of course, I have an opinion on this issue.

Like almost anything else in life, when we "don't have any time" to dedicate to something it's typically because it's something that we don't really want to do anyway. We find time for the things that matter to us and find excuses (and rightfully so!) for those that don't. It's a matter of aligning the many demands and requests put upon us with our values and priorities.

This alignment is essential when it comes to volunteer opportunities. In contemplating balance, I've learned that it's not living a series of perfectly balanced moments, but rather an overall balance life. Part of my balance comes from volunteer service and ability to use my skills and experience to positively impact my community. I "make" time for the causes and opportunities that fit my personal and/or career goals, and I'm trying to say "no, thank you" more often to those that don't match my criteria.

When we don't prioritize our volunteer commitments, we burn out! Have you ever gotten overwhelmed and thrown in the towel on your volunteer roles - or at least threatened to do so? Instead of burning out on volunteer work - take the time to evaluate where and how you spend your time. After all, your volunteer commitments are a pull on your "free" time and require sacrifice of your time and use of your talent.

Align your volunteer roles with your personal values today to banish burnout and better meet your goals!


  1. And you practice what you preach because you held steady with your volunteer jobs even with a brand new baby and full-time career. Kudos!

  2. From Vicki Bodman (Turner/CNN):
    "I agree. Prioritize what's important to you. I also think organizations that need volunteers can help themselves by creating some smaller roles, some opportunities for folks who don't feel like they can commit for a year at a time. The trick is balance the work that needs to be done without having too many volunteers to manage."

  3. Well said, and right on point. I have learned how to say "no" much better over the last year or so and it has helped me tremendously. I'm busy, yes, but I'll make time for the things that are important. Less so for the things that are not helping me to meet my personal and professional goals. Great post!