Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Work Life Balance: Are we all too busy?

A few months back I published a post on I-Volunteer.  Click on the heading of this post for link.  I think that this topic is still very relevant. Incidentally, my work life and home life have since become even busier.
                                                                     On Friday I rose at 5.15am drove my children to and from the ice rink, twice, got my car assessed for repair, went to the bank, assisted with setting up a garage sale for a fundraising charity event and managed to squeeze in a visit to my GP for health checkups which has now led to more scans checks and specialist visits mostly due to the 3F’s Fifty, Flabby and Family history – all of this achieved by 1pm on my day off. Ok so I did manage to have lunch with a friend after that and make yet another trip to the ice rink. I work full time and so I took a day off work to fit all of this in. After a very busy day it is not surprising that the following newspaper article caught my attention.

A major Federal Government study has revealed that one in four families have a full time stay-at-home parent compared to the 1983 figure of one in two. The rise in cost of living has placed increased pressure on families. The study reported that 45% of fathers and 62% of mothers in the full time workforce say they feel rushed. Courier Mail 12 May 2011 - “Work Consumes Parents”

So where am I going with this?

Two issues come to mind from this article –

Availability of volunteers

If the number of stay-at-home parents has halved since 1983 this conceivably means that there is half the number of parents available to volunteer on a weekday. Many schools and kindergartens for example, rely on the availability of stay-at-home parents to donate their time and energy to activities within the classroom, in the tuck-shop, at sporting events, at orientation and open days, on school excursions, in fundraising etc. With more double-income families there are fewer parents available during the day to participate in these activities thus placing even more pressure on those who are available during the day.

Work Life Balance: Are we all too busy?

Working full time, as a volunteer coordinator, and being a mum, I can very much identify with the 62% of mothers in the full-time workforce who feel rushed. If you don’t believe me just reread the first paragraph and that is on my day off.

DJ Cronin in his post “The sound of silence in Volunteer Management” refers to an article written 13 years ago by Susan J Ellis in her online journal E-Volunteerism “My reputation for nagging people to WRITE about what they do is probably unparalleled. But too many of us are so busy "doing" that we won't make time for reflection, new learning, and sharing with others. True professionals keep themselves informed. And career ladders are built by gaining recognition through published articles.”
DJ laments the inertia still prevalent in the volunteer management sector today.

Yes we are all busy but busy doing what? Sometimes we are so busy that it affects our health, something to watch out for. It is so important to find our own work/life balance. I find that reading information on latest trends in volunteer management and writing articles or blog posts can be quite cathartic providing a quiet time for reflection and an opportunity to be creative. It also provides an opportunity to share information and ideas with colleagues around the globe.

In the April/May Hot Topic article in OZVPM, Andy Fryer encourages the volunteer management community to get active and asks us the following questions
  • Do you have tips about how to get active?
  • Any ideas how we encourage each other to become more active?
  • What role should our peak bodies play in all of this?
  • What are YOU going to do?
Sadly there are still only two responses to the Hot Topic. Is this indicative of our busyness or our business?

In my response to this hot topic I provided my own suggestions to the above questions. You can view these in the responses to the hot topic on the OZVPM website.

My response to the last question was this.
• What are YOU going to do?

I am considering presenting at the Australian National Volunteering Conference in Brisbane later this year. I am taking a huge leap of faith and going way beyond my comfort zone to do this but it is something that I am passionate about and I feel that this is an important next step in my professional development in volunteer management.

I had written an abstract and done some initial research and had planned to present at the conference in Brisbane this year. A colleague suggested that it may be better to wait until next year to present and perhaps attend the conference this year as a delegate. It has been an extremely busy year for me both in my work life and my personal life and so I decided to postpone my conference presentation début until next year. I will continue to write blog posts and comments and participate in every learning opportunity that I can.

OK so now it is YOUR turn.
• What are YOU going to do?

Be brave, be bold and share your dreams, ambitions and visions with the world.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

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