Giving Your Time Without Losing Your Mind

All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Giving Your Time Without Losing Your Mind: Valuable Advice for Committed Volunteers

Volunteering can be a source of great personal satisfaction, and can even lead to career opportunities. But just like with paid work, too much stress can lead to physical and mental breakdown if you don’t come to it with the right attitude and plan.

Here are some tips for volunteers to set you on the right path for avoiding the anxiety and stress that leads to burnout.

Signs of Burnout

If you feel like you’re unfocused, worried or lacking enthusiasm, you may be burning out. If you’re also becoming less productive, missing the mark with your commitments and feeling unfulfilled or guilty about your situation: you’re burnt-out.

Be Prepared

Never get in that space again by thinking ahead, making the right plan and sticking to it. Look for a reasonably comfortable environment to maximize your chances of fitting in and succeeding. Look for organizations with a clear vision, straightforward job descriptions, and a well-organized program. Take a comprehensive look at your options so you can find work that best suits your interests and passions. Some organizations are federally funded and others fully private, some are apolitical and secular, others are partisan or religious. If you are going to volunteer overseas make sure that you know some of the language and the relevant safety information.

On the Job Read stories from the volunteering press to get an idea of what to expect from different types of organization. Know what you’re capable of: try starting with simpler tasks and moving on to more challenging ones as you grow more confident. Helping with some of the many shared duties is a good starting point. Don’t be overambitious: set reasonable expectations, a modest but reliable workload will win trust and build good working relationships far better than rare outbursts of energy. Make sure to take breaks, and try out a number of roles within the organization to discover which fits you best.

Time Management

Always remember: self-care comes first. There are only so many things you can do and places you can be in at a time: set limits. Be prepared to say no if you can’t really get something done in time. Set end dates to your commitments even if deadlines aren’t provided. Make sure you’re in a position to learn from your experience: you don’t want to be a mere assistant; you should enjoy upskilling and personal development.

Working with Others

Remember to prioritize your commitments: paid work, child rearing and caring for parents should always come first. Always make sure you put yourself in others’ shoes to know best how to help them. Only make promises when you know you can keep them: the value of your word is crucial. Keep confidential information secret. Make sure that any resources exchanged (especially cash) is done above the board, and with full accountability.

Now you’ve got some idea of what to expect and what to do if you do get stressed out. Consider writing up a plan B for when you commit to a new role, so you’re prepared to make changes.


Speak Your Mind


Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.