People often ask me how I juggle the demands of running a business while serving as president of the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI). I guess I don’t look at them as two different things… they’re just part of what I do as a professional. I’m fortunate to have a successful career to date and be in a position to give back to the community. This in itself highlights a key point. I intentionally decided it was the right time to take on a key volunteer role. I planned for it for a number of years and was comfortable that Innovative Learning Group was launched and stable enough for me to direct some of my energies to non-profit work.
Volunteering can be a rewarding experience, but it does take time and effort. Whether you’re volunteering for a professional organization or community project, I can’t stress enough how essential it is to plan. Volunteering is a big commitment – it’s important to consider how volunteer work fits into your priorities and then identify how much of your time you’ll carve out for these activities.
I know myself and realize I can work about 60-65 hours a week. In a typical day, my volunteer activities and “running the business” tasks are all just woven together. If I commit to a key meeting, whether it’s with a client or an ISPI Board meeting, I stick to it. I don’t cancel the Board meeting because it’s “volunteer” work when I get busy running ILG. I’m a big believer that if you make a commitment, you should keep it. It’s probably more damaging to make a commitment and not follow through than to not promise to do something in the first place.
But it still gets down to time management. Because I’m juggling ISPI responsibilities now, I probably spend less time on other professional development and networking activities. However, since my ISPI work is in the same field as ILG, often a given endeavor is relevant to both growing ILG and growing ISPI.
People also are critical to both pursuits. I make sure I surround myself with people I can trust and count on. When I reach out to people to volunteer, I think of people who’ve demonstrated in the past that they can do the task and will follow through.
Finally, whatever volunteer work you choose to do, it’s vital that you select something you’re passionate about. I’m passionate about ISPI. I know focusing on improving performance is absolutely the right thing for organizations around the world, and it’s this mindset that keeps me energized throughout my busy days.
So, start planning your volunteer activities and get your plates spinning! Zero in on the causes you care about, manage your time, get other people involved that care as much as you do, and have some fun.
I’d love to hear about the mindset you take when juggling the many aspects of your professional life!