I’m a person who usually feels bad if I just sit and wander around without any meaningful work. On my volunteering position, I try to do my best by playing or talking to children and be a responsible coworker. There is also a routine and I cannot affect things we are going to do in a day. Anyway, when I come home everything, how and when I do depends on me. It happens I come home late and it's really hard to find the energy to do something else than to take a nap, binge-watching some series or chat with friends online. I could do so much more! There is language learning, sports, participating in different organizations, traveling, planning the future, etc. I think I'm not the only one who is facing this challenge of poor time management.
First of all, you should think about priorities and values you have in life as well as all the wishes you want to make true in your volunteering service time. Do you want to improve the language of your hosting country? Become more fit? Make new friends? Explore city restaurants? When you know what you want to do or be, you set yourself a goal. And when we have a goal in front of us is much easier to find motivation and keep pushing yourself towards it.
When you thought about all your priorities and wishes it's time to make a to-do list. But when you’re done, cut it in half! Getting things done during your free time shouldn’t mean fitting in doing as much as possible. Do you really need those 30 tasks on your to-do list? Truly productive people aren’t focused on doing more things; this is actually the opposite of productivity. If you really want to be productive, it is actually better to do fewer things. Researches say that changing tasks more than 10 times a day drops your IQ an average of 10 points. Get things done more effectively and efficiently by focusing on one task at a time. Rather listen to this less is more advice and focus on things that matter to you the most that day. For example, for me, this day is really important to finish that article for Youth Reporter, do some sport exercises, vacuum my room and send an E-mail to my Slovenian volunteering organization. I stay at 4 tasks, do them one by one, feel I have things under control (I can do it) and don't get overwhelmed.
It is also crucial, not to confuse productivity with laziness or differently said - pretend to be productive while doing some small unimportant things to get yourself distracted (deleting your E-mails, reading news, long conversations about a plan, preparing food in the middle of your work). Laziness and procrastination are the number 1 contributor to lost productivity, scientists say. One of the quotes worth considering is: “Focus on being productive instead of being busy.”
If you, like me, come from work very tired it is nothing wrong to take a bigger break. Since your brain has used up its glucose, give yourself a moment to refresh by going for a walk. According to scientific research, it might be an excellent way to stimulate creative thinking and come up with better solutions to the problems you're encountering. Grabbing lunch or a snack, meditate (see my reportage about meditation), listen to the music or take a power nap also sounds like a good idea when you’re batteries are low. You’ll come back recharged and ready to achieve more.
Studies also show that exercise is an excellent solution to increase overall productivity. It boosted people task performance by 21%, they had 21% higher concentration, were 22% higher for finishing work on time, 25% higher for working without unscheduled breaks and 41% higher for feeling motivated. That doesn’t mean you need to buy an expensive gym membership. Going for short jogging or doing short 20 minutes YouTube workout session will improve your work results.
We talked about taking a break after a long working day but is important to take a break between working sessions too. For some people is a little bit hard to take a break between because they like to avoid distractions and get into a flow state while working. As it turns out, a short pause can improve focus and performance, according to a study. Just make sure they are planned at intervals and not too long. For example, stretch your body, listen or dance to one of your favorite songs, drink a glass of water or eat a snack.
Last but not least, make sure you get enough sleep every day. A medicine study in 2010 found out that people with insomnia or insufficient sleep experienced major productivity losses, spending almost three times as much of their day just on time management. Sleep-deprived individuals also suffered a lack of motivation, couldn’t focus, had trouble remembering things and making good decisions. Getting your seven to eight hours per night is highly recommended if you want to check everything from your to-do list and lift your life a level up in this volunteering time!
If I finish with a quote: “Productivity is never an accident. It is always a result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Paul J. Meyer