As a Leadership Fellow at Women Who Code, I talk to many folks interested in volunteering. These folks are either students or full-time job holders. They are usually excited about the prospect, but many fail to balance their time or even find the time and are ultimately unable to uphold their volunteering commitments.
Below are 3 tips that I often advise the community on how to efficiently manage their time between volunteering and other full-time activities and how to make the most of the community experience while not getting burned out.
Move Away from Hustle Culture
According to my observation, people sometimes want to be volunteers because they see others doing it and subscribe to the hustle culture. These people are the ones who often don’t come back when they realize volunteering is not meant for them—and that’s fine.
Social media is all around us, and it is easy to be influenced by what others are doing. I am not asking people to stop being ambitious, but rather to focus on one’s energy in doing things that truly matter to them. We don't have to do something just because someone else is doing it.
Prioritize Things That Matter to You
We don’t have to work on a side project because someone else is working on it or we don’t have to pick up a hobby to read books just for the sake of it. Each one of us is in a unique situation and our timings don’t have to coincide with what is important to other people. A busy week for one person might be an easy week for someone else.
What is important or what is to be prioritized in this situation is to realize that our brains need to recharge and reset from the hustle and bustle.
Learn to Say “No”
Time management is a common topic of my discussions within the community. Some people know and acknowledge they are in a time crisis, but others are shy or hesitant to admit this. In order to have a good time balance, it is important to unlearn saying yes to everything, learn to say “NO,” and learn to prioritize what’s most important for oneself.
Following is a good checklist to consider when learning to say “No” to new tasks:
- What purpose does this serve? “Be selfish, and identify what is most important to you” is what I constantly tell the volunteers.
- Does this purpose align with my goals and priorities?
- How might this drain my energy or motivation?
- How will I refuel?
When the phone battery drains it sends us scrambling for our chargers. Similarly, when a given workload drains our batteries, we often tend to ignore our own blinking red battery icon. We need to reevaluate the stereotypes and normalize having lazy weekends by doing nothing or binge-watching our favorite shows.
As humans, we need to rest and recharge even more than our devices do.