Ever wished you had more time? Volunteering might help


Your schedule is packed with lectures, tutorials, assignments, study sessions, family commitments and (hopefully) some sort of social life, so the idea of cramming one more thing into your calendar may not be appealing.

But if you go about it the right way, you can actually use small windows of time to get more back. Wait, what?!

Although it might sound a little counter-intuitive, research has suggested that giving time to others may help people feel like they have more time. Here’s how it works: a US study found that people who spent time doing something for other people felt less ‘time constrained’ than others who wasted their time, spent it on themselves or got a windfall of free time. The authors concluded that people who help others say they feel more capable, confident, useful and that they have accomplished something – which makes them feel better able to accomplish more in the future.

On top of this ‘time-stretching’ power, volunteering could also help relieve stress and alleviate symptoms of depression – which is important, since research by Headspace showed that the majority of Aussie students surveyed were stressed and anxious. In addition, a report from the University of New South Wales suggested that one of the main benefits of volunteering identified by volunteers was the social contact and networks. Other benefits included increased self-esteem, confidence and high levels of enjoyment.

How to get on board

Many educational facilities recognise the value of helping students give back by providing volunteer programs. The University of Wollongong in New South Wales, for example, has a program that gives students opportunities to assist with on-campus events, look after the uni’s herb and veggie garden, help out in the local community and be ‘wellness ambassadors’ – helping fellow students look after their own health. Meanwhile, Deakin University offers opportunities to be involved with community, environmental or social organisations – and even the zoo!

So if you’d like to get into volunteering, it’s worth enquiring with your faculty or checking out your education facility’s website for more information on what’s available. In addition, the website Go Volunteer has an entire section dedicated to opportunities for students.

Deakin University. Meeting people and making friends [Online] 2018 [Last updated Nov 2018; accessed Apr 2019] Available from: www.deakin.edu.au

Flick M Bittman M Doyle J. Social Policy Research Centre. University of New South Wales. ‘The community’s most valuable [hidden] asset’ – volunteering in Australia [Online] 2002 [Accessed Apr 2019] Available from: www.sprc.unsw.edu.au

GoVolunteer. Browse opportunities [Online] [Accessed Apr 2019] Available from: govolunteer.com.au

Harvard Business Review. You’ll feel less rushed if you give time away [Online] 2012 [Accessed Apr 2019] Available from: hbr.org

Headspace. Majority of Aussie students stressed, depressed [Online] [Accessed Apr 2019] Available from: headspace.org.au

Health Direct. Benefits of volunteering [Online] 2017 [Last updated Sep 2017; accessed Apr 2019] Available from: www.healthdirect.gov.au

The University of Melbourne. Voluntary work [Online] [Accessed Apr 2019] Available from: careers.unimelb.edu.au

University of Wollongong. Volunteering [Online] [Accessed Apr 2019] Available from: pulse.uow.edu.au