“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” ~John Holmes, author
Many of us feel the draw to help others in our community but aren’t sure how to make time for charity work in our busy schedules. Here are a few suggestions to help you clear the time you need so that you can engage in the meaningful and rewarding practice of charity work.
Managing Your Time
The best way to make time for charity work for any activity in your schedule is to make sure you are utilizing the time you have in the best ways possible.
Begin by ridding yourself of the mentality that “staying busy” is the best path to productivity. Jordan Bates, writer for The Creativity Post, says that people who follow this track often “waste time on menial tasks.” He says, “Managing my time isn’t about squeezing as many tasks into my day as possible. It’s about simplifying how I work, doing things faster.”
In fact, rather than trying to do more, it is better to consider how you can do less. “Eliminate your time-wasters.” Think about how many times you check Twitter or Instagram, or sneak onto YouTube for ‘just a minute.’ Make a resolution to reduce your time on these. Set a timer, delete the apps off your phone. Help yourself with your resolution by “remov[ing] them from your browser quick links and bookmarks … Replace those bookmarks with important work-related sites.”
Now sit down to work. Start with your most important chore. According to Bates, “This is the golden rule of time management … Once you’re done, the day has already been a success. You’ve finished the essential.” My dad has always taught me that procrastinating on the thing you dread most will only make it worse when you’re stuck with it late at night. If you finish it, you’ll be so relieved! Once you being your work, “focus completely,” remove distractions: close out other browsers and put your phone on silent, in another room.
Habits are easiest to keep up. It’s a good idea to schedule yourself to work at your charity at the same time every week. Even if you do something from home, mark it on your calendar on the same day. The consistency will help you.
Picking the Right One
When choosing a charity to work with only pick something “you truly care about”. If you find yourself dreading your upcoming appointment every week, you’ll no longer be willing to give it your time. It is great to start with a goal of helping others but even better to find a specific cause you are passionate about and want to commit to.
Websites such as Charity Navigator can help you find a company that “matches your interests.” You should read up on the organization you plan to work with, in order to be sure they manage their finances and assets well. Then you can feel certain that your time is well spent.
It’s okay to ask what you can get out of your experience as well. What sort of networks can you build through this charity? What skills can you learn or practice here that you might apply to other areas of your life, including your career? Double the effectiveness of your work by making it work for you too.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect fit for you, be careful not to overcommit at the start. Don’t feel you have to spend extravagant amounts of time to make a difference. Just start out with a few hours a week, so that you don’t get overwhelmed.