More? Seriously?

(Chart by the hilarious Allie Brosh.)

Over the weekend, it was suggested to me that I should join the board of the local indoor soccer league if I felt that things could be done better.

“We are only volunteers, you know,” she said.

Implication being that simply the act of volunteering was sufficient and whether anything is actually accomplished by said volunteering is way beside the point.

But it’s a good point. Much of what we do is by choice when working to pay the bills and all that maintainance work involved with personal survival and parenting stuff is factored out. We take on everything else pretty much on a volunteer basis. Relationships. Hobbies. Sports. Exercise. Excessive grooming. Image maintaining. We volunteer what remains of our time each week to all these things.

So, deciding to coach your kid’s team or serve on a board or be surf the various media selections from your easy chair – all volunteer work – and being such, requires you to know how much extra time and energy you really have to devote to it. Those factors determining whether or not you can say that said volunteerism is productive or not. It also decides whether you can promote yourself as a saint, martyr or a well-rounded person, who just happens to have a bit of free time that many of us can’t seem to lay even a pinkie finger on.

Knowing your personal load capacity matters.

The sad fact (for others) of my life is that the time I have available for over-extending myself is during the day when they are all at work. Responsibilities for me are slotted in micro-shifts and aside from the book-ending of child, wife and housely stuff, my midday’s are as flexible as Gumby. If you want my assistance, you need to need it during the day. Expecting me to show up in person in the evening simply isn’t going to happen.

From Monday to Thursday, I am moving at an impressive rate of speed from 4 P.M. on til bedtime. Trying to shoehorn anything in on the fly takes considerable advanced planning and often isn’t feasible. While I am quick to point out my daytime availability, there are few who find this helpful in their quest to off-load those things that they took on by choice and now find cumbersome or don’t add to the world’s perception of them in a manner for which they hoped to become accustomed.

Let’s face it, We were designed to live in Eden that awesome carefree botanical garden/petting zoo and not built at all for a life of hard labour with too many distracting choices masquerading as obligations.


4 thoughts on “More? Seriously?

  1. i struggle with volunteerism – you get what you pay for. trying to operate an organization, or execute a project, as a business with an all volunteer force means there will be inefficiencies, and migraines.

    poolside, at my condo, i got engaged in a conversation with one of the association board members. he bemoaned the fact that it was just a few core folks who did all of the heavy lifting. i volunteered to assist – and asked him what he needed. he couldn’t answer. i followed up with an e-mail, detailing my skills, availability, experience on various non-profit boards over the past 20 years… he eventually asked me if i could do a cute newsletter. they would provide the content, i would provide the layout.

    making an attempt to make the paragraphs coherent, i was told not to edit content. i was asked to add come cute autumn clip art instead. i didn’t do the christmas newsletter.

    it’s a lot of work to clearly define digestible chunks of work for volunteers to accomplish as they have skills and time. most organizations don’t do this very well. i mostly choose to surf the internet with my volunteer time these days… i can also claim “Feeding the Volunteer Martyrs” as my primary contribution to The Cause.

  2. i have a friend who drives herself crazy volunteering for ‘one more thing’, then complaining vociferously about not having time in her life. she is firmly entrenched in the right side of the curve on the chart you shared. i would share that chart with her, but she’d get all defensive. i keep telling her, “There is a secret and magic word that will help you – – – ‘No!'”. doesn’t seem to help. but, i too understand the difficulty in seeing things that could be done better. in the long term, would your involvement help more than the sanity you would lose? pick and choose battles wisely. easier said than done, but there it is.

    1. My volunteering now to help out on the board would be a total lose for me given the reaction I got when I unknowingly offered my take on things. I am a relative newbie in the community anyway and the small town “but this is the way we’ve always done it” runs at about chin level.

      My problem is what its always been. I am very good at looking at a situation from the outside and seeing what works, what doesn’t and offering solutions. It’s just the way I am wired. It’s not personal … for me … but it is nearly always taken personally, and as a result, I don’t volunteer. When I do, I almost always end up regretting it b/c ppl like status quo even when it doesn’t work all that well. No one likes to hear that their pov/solution/action isn’t going to get them where they want to be in the quickest most pain-free way possible.

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