6 Time Management Tips so You Can Start Volunteering More

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It’s tough to free up time to volunteer, but non-profit organizations and schools rely on the help of volunteers to make their operations run smoothly. The trick is, you probably have more time to volunteer than you think, you just might not be managing it wisely. Make volunteerism a priority, and reschedule your day so you free up more time. Even an extra hour a week can make a significant difference to those in your community.

1. Streamline Your Free Time
Take a hard look at your free time – how much of it is spent on Facebook or Twitter? How many hours a week do you spend in front of the TV? If the Internet is a time drain, install a program on your computer, such as Cold Turkey, to block access to certain websites during specified times of the day. For instance, if you tend to zone out in front of the screen after dinner, give yourself 30 minutes, then block your own access so you remember to move on to other things. Once you cut down on the distraction, you’ll free up plenty of time to volunteer.

2. Use a To-Do List
Working off a to-do list helps keep you focused and on track when moving from task to task. After dropping your kids off at basketball practice, you won’t waste valuable time trying to remember what else you needed to accomplish. Work off your list and check the tasks off as you go. If you finish your to-dos during the week, your weekends can be used for volunteer work.

3. Combine Your Errands
How much time do you waste each week driving from one location to another, then back again, because you didn’t think about combining errands wisely? If your dry cleaner is on the way to work, drop off your clothes as you go. If your grocery store is next to the post office, drop off your mail on the days you go shopping. By combining errands, you can save time, and as an added benefit, save money on gas.

4. Cut Kitchen Time
Preparing home-cooked meals is a great way to eat a healthier diet, but it can also eat up time in the kitchen. Instead of opting for TV dinners and frozen foods, get smart about meal prep. Gather all your ingredients when preparing a meal, and start prepping the items that take longer to cook. For instance, baked potatoes take longer to cook than steaks, so wash them and get them in the oven before you move on to the steaks.

Clean as you go, and set a plastic bag on the counter to collect scraps so you’re not running back and forth to the garbage can. This might not save a lot of time, but it can make a difference.

Finally, cook in bulk and make double what you serve your family for one meal. You can freeze the leftovers for quick mid-week dinners, virtually cutting your kitchen-time in half.

5. Analyze Your Actions
Analyze your actions throughout the day to identify and eliminate unnecessary tasks. For instance, rather than opening all of your mail, deposit the junk directly into your recycling bin. Likewise, send unwanted emails straight to your spam folder, and consider using your lunch break to workout. If you find five ways to save five minutes each day, that’s almost three extra hours each week you can use to volunteer.

6. Use Your DVR
If you still plan your schedule around your favorite TV shows, it’s time to put your DVR to use. Simply record the programs you love and watch them later. This also saves time because you can fast forward through commercials, watching a one-hour show in about 40 minutes.

Once you feel you have more time to donate, be sure to consider volunteering with The Salvation Army. Contact your local chapter to ask how you can help. Not all charitable contributions are given in the form of cash or check – donating your time is just as valuable.

How do you free up time to volunteer?