As an association volunteer, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the many meetings, emails, and endless tasks and decision-making required for running an organization. Managing your time well not only helps you stay healthy and motivated, but also ensures you have the people power to keep the association going for a long time.
Here are a few ways you can manage your time to be a successful, efficient, and engaged volunteer association leader without overwhelming yourself to the point of burnout.
1-Block off time for your volunteer work
In our current always-online work culture, it’s easy to be constantly working. Any time of day or night you can find yourself doing Board duties, but always being “on” can wear you down fast. The best and most efficient way to work is often diving into a chunk of work without distractions rather than piecemeal here-and-there. Instead of sneaking your volunteer role into every moment you can find, practice setting aside dedicated time for Board-related work. Make space in your calendar before and after Board meetings to prepare and do follow-up, and at times when you know the association is its busiest. A lot of your seemingly urgent volunteer tasks can probably wait until your scheduled Board-work time; a time when you can relax, focus, and give quality attention to the association. Read more here on tips to manage your time well.
2-Be realistic about your capacity
When there are so many competing priorities, it’s easy to say yes to any new task, strategy, or direction. Eventually, you just won’t be able to keep up if you try to do everything. Smaller volunteer teams succeed when they recognize what they can realistically accomplish with the people power and time they have. These teams focus on doing a few things well instead of trying to do way too many things, only to do them poorly. The association’s strategic plan can help you and your team prioritize what to focus on. Read here for How to Elevate and Streamline your Association’s Strategic Planning Sessions.
3-Lean on your team
One of the most important things to do when you feel overwhelmed is to ask for help. All your fellow Board members are on your Board for their skills and expertise, so everyone has something to offer. If the association has staff, you can ask them for help or advice. If you’re struggling with passing off tasks, try keeping a list of possible ideas of things you could use extra help with. And trust your teammates will also tell you when they’re busy, so you don’t have to worry about giving extra work to others who also have an overwhelming workload. For more on strengthening your team, read Team Building Exercises to Strengthen Your Association.
4-Invest in your membership
One of the most important resources in any association, if not the most important, is people. People make or break an association; they make the difference between a flourishing and floundering Board. The larger and more active and engaged your membership is, the larger your pool of potential volunteers, Board members, and supporters to draw on. If you feel like your Board or association is struggling and you don’t know where to start, start by engaging and connecting with your members. Soon enough they could become a new energizing force on your board.