timex alarm clock on stack of books and papers

3 PTO Volunteer Time Wasters to Avoid!

Being a PTO volunteer can eat up a lot of your time, but it doesn’t have to!

Quite often, potential volunteers will cite lack of time as a reason they can’t get involved right now.

And some volunteers will look to resign their posts because their role is taking up too much of their time.

Identifying and then rooting out inefficiencies and things that take up more time than they seem to be worth is always a smart idea because our time to volunteer isn’t endless.

Being smart with our time is not only satisfying, but prevents burn out and overwhelm, and keeps parents involved in your PTO.

This post will highlight three time wasters as well as offer up solutions to eliminate those time sucks too!

Let’s get to it!

Looking for Basic Information

Starting off with an easy, no brainer time waster…

Not having the information needed to do your job can be super frustrating and is a time waster for sure.

Ever go to call someone and realize you only have their email address and then spend 15 minutes (or more) trying to track it down.

In the meantime, the task stays on your to do list and takes up ways more time than it otherwise would have with the contact information readily available!

Solution: Get a planner and write down all the information you need.

Not just the contact information for other leaders, but the building administrators and the contact info for leaders at other schools in your district too.

Beyond the contact information, you’ll need to track bank account information (if you’re President or Treasurer), membership reporting deadlines if you’re Member Chair, and for all positions, important calendar dates as well, among other info.

Learning Instead of Doing

When new to a volunteer role, especially a PTA/PTO position, volunteers are keen to not screw things up and fulfill the duties of their position to the best of their ability.

You of course don’t want to look like you don’t know what you’re doing, nor do you not want to know what you’re doing.

Moreover, screwing things up that costs the group time, or even worse, money, is the last thing you want to do.

You’re giving of your time to make the group and school better and stronger, after all.

But here’s the thing… many times volunteers aren’t clear on what the roles entail or what they should be doing.

So instead of taking care of things that fall under the umbrella of their role, they first have to spend a whole bunch of time figuring out what to do!

And then at the end of the year, they feel like they haven’t gotten done nearly what they’d hope to at the beginning of their term and feel discouraged from continuing to be involved.

What a rotten way to feel!

Solution:  Get crystal clear on what your role entails as soon as possible so you can prepare and plan for your role.

Look to previous leaders in your same or similar position, the officer binder you were given during officer transition, or get training and guidance so you know how to do it the right way from the start.

Not Having a System

The last time waster to highlight is the oldie but goodie of not having a system and just winging it and creating systems as you go. 

Sometimes it might not even seem like a system is what it’ll take to remedy the issue so let’s talk about a few ways this issue can pop up.

Committees

For Committee Chairs, not having a system shows up as a ripped out piece of notebook paper with “Name” and “Phone” scribbled at the top, instead of being able to pass around a thoughtfully designed sign up sheet with all the relevant information needed for both you and the potential volunteers.

This system matters because volunteers may not remember the time/date details of the volunteer opportunity (even though it was just explained!) and without that information listed on the sign up sheet, very well may pass on signing up to help because they’re not sure they can help.

In the end, you get a frustratingly empty sheet back and not enough helpers for the event.

Fundraising

For Fundraising Chairs, this looks like not having a detailed promotion plan for your fundraiser. 

Simply sending home the catalogue with a parent letter stapled to the front isn’t going to cut it and the proof will be in the lackluster fundraising income and participation rates.

Only you won’t have this information until it’s too late and will have scramble to put together another fundraiser and hope it goes well, or even worse, slash the PTO budget.

Treasurers

For Treasurers, this looks like chasing down people for their receipts and payee names instead of having a system in place where documentation with receipts and complete payment requests come into your inbox automagically.

Presidents

For Presidents, a symptom of not having a system looks like chaotic meetings that go on forever, even though very little gets decided.

And then the following month, even fewer parents show up for the meetings, resulting in the same amount of work getting spread around to an ever shrinking pool of volunteers.

Ultimate Solution for all of these Time Wasters?

If you’re resonating with any of these time wasters and realizing your current systems are leaking time faster than the flow of Niagara Falls, it’s probably time to put some systems into place!

colorful resources for PTA PTO leaders

In case you’re not already aware, let me introduce the PTA/PTO Success Kit.  It’s the most comprehensive bundle of systems designed to take the busywork and stress out of running a PTA/PTO.

There’s literally a resource for everyone in your group, which eliminates the need for you to figure out what you need.

To name just a few resources that’ll solve the headaches described above, for Committee Chairs, there are pre-formatted sign up sheets with spaces for all the information volunteers need to know to decide if they can help as well as a place to capture volunteers’ complete contact information.

Fundraising Chairs will absolutely love the detailed publicity plan that sets out different ways to promote the fundraiser to maximize attention and participation that’s included in the Fundraising Success Kit.

PTA PTO Treasurer's Success Kit digital resources on white background

Treasurers will be relieved by ending the literal paper chase with reimbursement and check request forms all set to go.

printable forms, templates and book for better PTA PTO meetings

The Meeting Success Kit gives a step by step plan to keep meetings decision packed as well as short and sweet, making

Watch this!

Over to you!

I hope this post has given you some insight into how to free up some of your time so that your schedule isn’t so dominated by PTO tasks.

So many potential volunteers and leaders say that they’d love to volunteer if only they had the time.

By cutting out these time wasters, perhaps they’ll have time to get involved after all!

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