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5 Things Volunteering Does For You!

5 Things Volunteering Does For You!

After just getting back from packing 500 lunches for children during a Spring Break, where they would not otherwise have any food at all, I have a few thoughts to share with you. Now, this is by far not my first time to do this, but something is sparked in me each time. Something that I simply cannot contain. I am energized and enthusiastic that our community came together to feed children. You see, they normally get free breakfast and lunch during the school day, but what happens when school is out?! The answer, they may or may not eat. That’s where they need people like us. They need someone, anyone, to step up and help. You see, they are products of their situation, a situation they would not choose if they had a choice. I had the opportunity to help and I am so glad I did!

This situation is not an isolated one. There are opportunities everywhere! Parks that need to be cleaned up, food that needs to be served to those without homes, parents who could use a break and have a sitter they couldn’t afford, elderly people who need assistance with basic things such as mowing their yard. You see, if you will take the time to look, there are needs everywhere around you. What happens though, I have found out, is that it is you who walk away with a smile on your face. It will be you who will benefit the most from volunteering. It does not matter where you volunteer, or what you do…just get out there and do it.

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You may have no experience, little experience, or this may be something you do on a regular basis. I would just encourage you to do it! I have learned many things from volunteering, and so I decided to share my list with you. I want it to inspire you to get out there and volunteer. Find a need, put it on your calendar, and do not cancel. Treat this appointment as so important you simply cannot miss it; then, you will find out why!

Reasons to volunteer:

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1. Gets you out in the community

Getting out into the community is great! It helps you really feel a sense of belonging. It can also boost your pride in where you live. After all, we live in a great country with wonderful towns and cities everywhere!

2. Helps you make new connections/friends

Expand your circle! You can either just work nicely with others for a couple of hours, form a new acquaintance, or even expand your network – you choose! Getting to know others in your community helps you to stay “plugged in” to the things going on around you.

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3. Helps to remind you that EVERYONE has value

Giving to others makes them feel important, appreciated, and valued. We ALL want to feel valued. It does not matter what socioeconomic status you hold or they hold, everyone has an inner need to feel loved.

4. Helps to fight depression/self-centeredness

Volunteering helps you to focus on others. Getting your mind off of your situations and problems is one easy way to fight depression. We also tend to live in a very self-centered society; volunteering simply takes your mind off of yourself and put it on others who need you.

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5. Makes you put that phone down

In our techno-centered society, putting your devices down and rolling up your sleeves to work helps us all to REALLY connect with others.

Again, the need is out there – EVERYWHERE! You can donate one hour, one day, or one week.

Helping others really is good for you!

Featured photo credit: Fort George Meade Public Affairs Office via flickr.com

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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