3 Tips For Avoiding Burnout When Volunteering

3 Tips For Avoiding Burnout When Volunteering
October 7, 2014 Sue Brage

Volunteers who lead ministry are amazing people. They manage to balance full-time careers, kids, home, and seemingly hundreds of church activities and volunteers—all without missing a beat. Their devotion to God, family, and their church community is inspiring.

And yet, I’ve also seen volunteers at all levels burn out, walk away, and fade into the woodwork as a result of unsustainable bouts of activity. In fact, I’ve been one of those volunteers.

What I’ve learned from my experience in volunteer roles as well as from being a business owner is that we often make our “jobs” harder than they need to be. We discount methods or tools that might actually make life easier. Perhaps we think it will take too long to get up to speed, or that it will be too difficult to change our habits. We may be afraid of technology or new methods we aren’t familiar with.

Carrying the weight of responsibility that comes with managing events and volunteers can be burdensome to say the least, but there is a better way! Here are three tips to help you lighten the load:

1. Invest in technology.
Need a laptop or a tablet? Maybe an updated phone? Get one. We often rationalize away having the latest technology (or “toy” as some like to call them!). And yet, making an investment that will make you more efficient and effective is money well spent.

Identify what you need. If you honestly can’t afford it, talk to the leaders in your church. Present your case and ask them to help. You may be surprised at the resources available if you just ask!

2. Investigate helpful online tools that can simplify your life.
Get input from other leaders or just search online. Here are a couple of apps to get you started:

Trello. Trello is a free project planning tool. You can create an organization and invite others. You set up boards for each project or area you want to plan. I use this and love its versatility, from planning client work, to events, to goal setting. It’s worth checking out.

Volunteer Spot. I love Volunteer Spot. It’s the perfect online scheduling tool for any size group or event. People can sign up online for everything from Sunday ushers and hospitality teams, to a car wash to a garage sale to a pot luck! And again, it’s free. From my experience, communication is the most time consuming part of a volunteer’s life and Volunteer Spot automates communication sending emails and reminders for you.

You Version. You Version is critical in a volunteer leader’s life. This free app provides access to most Bible versions and has tons of Bible reading plans (and topical or devotional ones) that will help keep you—and your volunteers—growing spiritually. You can even read plans together and share notes and comments. It’s a great tool to help you lead others well.

3. Include others when you need help.
Yeah, this is a toughie. But, sometimes you have to admit that you can’t do it all! If you have a big project looming, get your kids or friends involved. I remember stuffing church newsletters with my kids while watching a favorite movie. This also means when you are feeling completely overwhelmed, you need to be honest with others. Don’t take on more than you can handle and let others know when you are nearing your limits.

These three tips can help you manage your life and responsibilities with grace. And, thanks for all you do, by the way. You are amazing.



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