VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


  • Controlling Your Schedule
  • Increasing the Output of Small Groups
  • Introducing a Change
  • Listening to Trainees

Controlling Your Schedule

It is so easy to get side tracked at work. Here is a one-week production plan to help you overcome the obstacles of getting work done.

  1. The first day of the week (usually Monday) decide on the three top projects you must complete. Select those items with the highest value to you, your program, and the organization. Make a commitment to complete just those three things.
  2. Take your regular "To Do" list and rank everything in relationship to its importance to you, your program, and your organization. Take the bottom 25% of the list and forget about it until the following week.
  3. Set aside one day of the week to do nothing but go through the stacks on the desk. This means no phone calls, e-mail, meetings, or other interruptions.
  4. Practice saying NO. Look in the mirror and see how your lips are shaped when you say NO. If the project is tempting you will have had loads of practice saying NO.
  5. Read and respond to e-mail only once per day. Do not file things to deal with later. Deal with it when you read it. If you don't, it will nag at you and you might be tempted to handle e-mail more than once per day.

Increasing the Output of Small Groups

Many volunteer projects and activities are planned and implemented by committees. Often those committees can become unwieldy. Here are some tips to make that large group more productive by creating small groups.

Introducing a Change

Change and adults is usually problematic. Volunteers and staff can resist change, assuring you that the old way works just fine. Here are some hints to make that change go more smoothly.

Listening to Trainees

Talking is not teaching and listening is not learning. That is the mantra of anyone who is serious about using effective adult learning methods to teach. Listening is a key to being an effective teacher. Here are some reminders of how to do it effectively.

* Avoid answering direct questions. Learners frequently ask direct questions. Turn that question back to the group or the individual who asked. You usually get several good answers, and you can supplement with your own, if the group missed something obvious. This also encourages participation.

* Be quiet. This means not saying anything for 15-20 seconds. That is a long time and someone generally wades in with an answer or comment or asks you to clarify the questions. Many trainers ask questions, wait 5 ­ 10 seconds and then answer their own questions. This trains the learners that you really do not want participation and so they oblige the teacher by not responding to future question. They know the trainer will answer them.

* Strive for neutrality. You may disapprove of an answer, but do not let it show. The same goes if you agree. This means more learners will find the environment safe to put forth their ideas.

* Avoid defensive responses. Grit your teeth and smile when you have the urge to defend your comment or action. An experienced trainer defuses potentially defensive situations by saying, "I don't ask anybody in class to buy anything I say. All I ask is that you give it house room for the duration of class. When we are done, you will decide what is valuable for you and what works. And that is how it should be." Find something similar to say to defuse those tense moments.


Washington State University offers a Volunteer Management Certification Program through the Internet. Individuals around the world can earn a certificate in managing or coordinating volunteers, without leaving home.

For more information, visit Volunteer Today's Internet Resources page. Look for the Washington State University listing. There is a hot link to their Web sites.


The National Association of Volunteer Programs in Local Government (NAVPLG) is an association of administrators, coordinators and directors of volunteer programs in local government. Its purpose is to strengthen volunteer programs in local government through leadership, advocacy, networking and information exchange. NAAVPLG is an affiliate of the National Association of Counties and is seeking affiliate status with the National League of Cities.

Cost is $20 for individuals and $75 for group local government membership. An affiliate membership is $25 and is intended for those who are not local government members but may have an interest in the group. There is a quarterly newsletter, national network, and access to NACo's Volunteerism Project.

For more information contact Glenis Chapin, who is a member of the Executive Committee. She can be reached by phone at 503-588-7990. Be sure to mention you read about this in Volunteer Today.

Return to Top

Copyright by Nancy Macduff.

Some images on this site are licensed from Web.Pix
Copyright 1996 DiAMAR Interactive Corporation, all rights reserved.