make time for volunteering
24 Jan
  • By Camilla Marsh
  • Cause in

How to Make Time for Volunteering

In a world where we want our food fast and our conversations quick, our commutes short and our gym workouts hard, we don’t have time for ourselves, let alone giving what little time we have to others.

Our modern world has pulled the plug on slow healthy lifestyles and instead caged us in to a everturning hamster wheel of places we need to be and things we need to do, that never quite get reached nor done. And in all this clock-clinging madness we seem to have lost the very quality that makes us human – empathy.

So how do we beat the clock for good (admittedly by chucking it out the window altogether) and find time for volunteering? Here’s three tips to help you slow down and give back more.


Change the Way You Think About Time

What is time but a human-constructed concept?

We won’t get into the nitty-gritty metaphysics of it here, but time is nothing more than a mechanical hand rotating around a expressionless face.

We have as much or as little time as we think we do- it’s all in our minds. Yes there are real, tangible and often terrifying “real-world” concepts such as appointments, due dates and deadlines, but our experience of this is all to do with how we manage time. If we keep telling ourselves we don’t have time for this or for that, then our experience will be that we never get around to doing it.

Rather than focusing on how little time you have, try telling yourself you have more than enough time in a day to do everything you want for yourself and for those around you. Think of time as an abundance rather than a lack.

If there’s one thing living in South-East Asia has taught me, it’s that Africa time aint got nothing on Sri Lanka time. I dare to resort to a cliche here, hushly proclaiming that “time stands still on this teardrop island.”

At first this complete disregard for digital numbers had my Western drive to destroy my to-do list and get things done, in an absolute spin-out, until I started seeing the value in a slower-paced life. The locals may not be on time for meetings or project due dates, but they have all the time in the world to watch their children grow, have tea with their neighbours, and give a helping hand to absolutely any person they meet in the street. And at the end of the day, what’s a better way than that to spend your time?


See Volunteering as Adding Years to Your Life

Just as we need to change the way we think about time, we need to change the way we think about volunteering too. Rather than see volunteering as taking time out your day, see volunteering as adding years to your life. When we give back, we’re not only giving back to others, we’re giving back to ourselves too. Many studies have shown that volunteering in fact helps you to live a longer, happier, more fulfilled life.


Researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School in the south of England analyzed data from 40 published studies and found evidence that volunteers had a 20 percent lower risk of death than their peers who do not volunteer. The study also found that volunteers had lower levels of depression, increased life satisfaction and enhanced well-being.


Volunteering has been proven to help people of all ages to fight off depression, to improve cognitive functions and memory, to boost moods, deal with chronic illnesses and create self-confidence and purpose. A healthy body and happier mind means a longer, more satisfied life.


Start Small by Microvolunteering

If you’re still not convinced you have enough time for volunteering, then take it one small step at a time by microvolunteering. This new trend advocates the adage that every little bit helps. Rather than trying to carve out large chunks of your day or month to volunteer, fit it in between your daily schedule. Leverage the activities you already do to include a little volunteering. Here’s some ideas to get you going:

  • When you take your dog for a walk, take a rubbish bag and pick up litter along the way.
  • Give a helping hand to a stranger in the street, give up your seat to a mother and baby on the bus, or help someone who’s lost find where they need to go.
  • Spend an hour or two at a nursing home speaking to the elderly.
  • Plant flowers at your local community centre.
  • Use the Be My Eyes app to identify labels for blind people

There are so many small and powerful ways we can give back, if we only allow ourselves the time to try.


Ready to be a volunteer? Sign up for Brownie Points for loads of little opportunities for you to give back in a big way.


Related reading

Camilla Marsh
Camilla is a curator of good cause content, nomadic writer and connoisseur of life, on a journey to help others live the best life they can. She specialises in self-development and all things happiness.

Leave a Reply