Juggling work and volunteering: 4 top tips for managing both

Juggling work and volunteering: 4 top tips for managing both

4 August 2021

Volunteering can be one of the most fulfilling long-term hobbies you can take up, however, amidst a busy lifestyle, it can easily start to feel like just ‘one more thing to do’.

Not having enough time a common blocker to volunteering, with many people feeling like they couldn’t juggle work and volunteering. However, not every volunteering opportunity required as much of a time commitment as you might think, and, trust us, the rewards of getting involved are worth it.

If you’re keen to try volunteering but just don’t see how you can find the time, we can help!

Read on for our top tips on juggling work and volunteering. 

Find out about your work’s volunteering policy

A volunteering policy is a guideline that some organisations have to outline the logistics of volunteering on work time. If your business is signed up to Social Good Connect, it’s likely that you have a policy in place, or that your employer has an informal verbal agreement with your team that will allow you to volunteer on work time. 

Ask your boss or HR manager what the script is with volunteering, if they come back to you with clear guidelines on what commitment you can give, then great! You’ve got a great jumping-off point to know how much time you can realistically give, and it helps to set expectations with management that you’ll be taking advantage of that time to volunteer. 

If not, then it’s worth having a conversation with your manager about your hopes to get involved in volunteering, and whether they would consider creating a volunteer policy of their own.

Work and volunteering: Try to prioritise!

Weighing up priorities is important when volunteering, especially if you’re beginning a longer-term role rather than a one-off opportunity. Assessing those priorities will ensure that you’re keeping your workload manageable and delivering on the areas you need to be without overstretching yourself. Volunteering should add to your life, not spread it thinner!

So how do you weigh up your work priorities against your volunteering priorities? Well, the Eisenhower Matrix is a great way to understand what you’re looking at when you are dividing your time between tasks. 

What is the Eisenhower Matrix?

The Eisenhower Matrix assesses urgency and importance, so you know which things to crack on with first, and which tasks can take a back seat for the time being. 

This wonderful little graph is a simple and quick way of planning tasks that you can do in two minutes. 

Juggling work and volunteering

It’s a long-loved favourite when it comes to helping people understand what tasks are actually worth spending time on, and which are just clogging up your day. 

Understand how you work best 

When it comes to juggling priorities, one size does not fit all. What might work for you, may not work for someone else! A bit of trial and error, and self-understanding can help you work out what realistic working practices look like for you. Are you a morning mover? Or a night owl? Does multitasking get your motor running, or does it grind you to a halt?

Many volunteering opportunities, especially virtual volunteering opportunities, are very flexible so understanding your rhythm and working to your own schedule can help you stay motivated and inspired. 

Helpful resources and tools

  • Mind Tools is a short questionnaire to take stock of how you work and prioritise tasks, and gives some good guidance on how you can improve. 
  • This short course from Lumen Learning will help you discover your time-management style, whether you’re a pro at multitasking, or you work best in deep-focus time, you’ll find out how you work to your own maximum efficiency. 
  • This article in Harvard Business Review discusses reframing our thinking towards time management, and focussing on boosting our capacity for attention. The author, Maura Thomas, is a productivity-expert and lays out advice on how to control your environment, mindset and workload to juggle your priorities.

Consider virtual volunteering

Volunteering doesn’t have to take place in person! So many charities have virtual volunteering opportunities, meaning you can easily slot in an hour here and there on a timescale that suits you. Face to face volunteering might be your cup of tea, but if you’re worried about time then virtual is a great option that gives you flexibility. Not only that, it also means you aren’t limited to local opportunities, meaning you can help out a charity with a cause that’s important to you, no matter where they are based.  

By volunteering virtually, there’s no worries about commuting, or doing all your volunteering in ‘one go’. Volunteering should be fun and fulfilling, so it’s important to remember not to over-commit. Using time-management tools and communication with your boss – you can open yourself up to new opportunities that add to your life in so many ways. 

Find out about employee volunteering

We hope you enjoyed our tips for juggling work and volunteering. If virtual volunteering sounds up your alley, or if you want some support to get your employer involved with employee volunteering why not get in touch with our Business Engagement Manager, Sarah, who can give you all the tools you need to get started!

Join 100s of people and hear Caroline’s Thursday Thoughts.

Caroline has made it her life’s work to help people make more meaningful decisions to support their communities and she’s learned some golden nuggets along the way!

So, join Caroline each week for her ‘Thursday Thoughts’ on all things people, planet, philanthropy or purpose all served with sprinkle of fun (but unfortunately no prosecco) to inspire you.