Overwhelm is common for managers of volunteers who might be responsible for a large team, but only available to them for 10 or 20 hours per week.
Here are some practical tips to help manage the volume and calm the mind.
We all know the feeling – 100 things to do and you don’t know where to start.
- Write it down in 1 place. This can be a notebook, a list-management app (there are several), or a Word doc.
- Categorise your list: Do | Defer | Delegate | Delete
- Now, do any tasks that only take a couple of minutes
- Then, use your calendar to allocate time and a deadline by which you will complete the deferred tasks.
- Delegate as many tasks as you can. Getting them off of your list will relieve the pressure.
- Delete the tasks you don’t need to do.
Further ways to prioritise your tasks:
Top 3 tasks – set aside time first thing to write down those MITs (no more than 3) and get those things done. Anything else is a bonus.
Set out the tasks for that day. Anything not completed gets moved over to the next day (after being analyzed through the Do | Defer | Delegate | Delete process).
Myths of Multitasking:
ABC Radio National – program on All in the Mind
- Neuroscientists have now determined that humans are not capable of multi-tasking, but rather we become adept at switch-tasking.
- Rapid switch tasking can lead to mental and physical fatigue. The brain is so taxed that it becomes harder to concentrate on tasks that take effort and focus.
- Switch-tasking results in much more of the stress hormone cortisol being released into your body.
- The antidote is focused single-tasking.
Periodically block out the constant stream of information. Shut off social media, email and other notifications for a block of time and focus on one task.
Delegating can be tricky. It can sometimes require time and effort. However, by building good delegating habits, you will not only be in a better position to manage your time, you will also be building the capabilities of your volunteers and team members.
Good delegation involves:
- Deciding on the task
- Picking the right person
- Communicating clearly what needs to be done
- Checking in regularly (without being over-bearing)
- Being patient. You might need to provide more support
- Giving credit where it is due: if your volunteer has done a good job, let everyone know.
Anyone who works in a team understands that conflict happens. Knowing how to resolve conflict can help teams to work better together and keep stress levels down.
Help from NFPLaw regarding conflict, grievance and mediation
Mindtools.com has some useful information about managing teams and conflict resolution:
Burnout – What to Watch For:
It is important to know when you are dealing with more than usual amounts of stress.
Signs of Physical/Emotional Exhaustion:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Increased illnesses
- Loss of appetite
Signs of Cynicism and Detachment
- Loss of enjoyment
Signs of Feeling Ineffective
- Lack of productivity
- Feeling of apathy
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Increased irritability
4 Ways to Beat Volunteer Management Burnout: