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We’re told that finding your purpose has never been more important; finding time to fulfil it can seem impossible.

In our fast-paced world of endless scrolling and dopamine producing notifications, messages about finding purpose easily cut through but finding time to contribute to something bigger than ourselves can seem out of reach.

When I’m struggling to manage my time, I often wonder why (despite all my labour-saving gadgets and technology my parents could only dream of!) there never seems to be enough hours in the day.

Perhaps it’s just a reflection of modern life. We’re encouraged and rewarded for multi-tasking and app switching. Fresh content is delivered to our devices 24/7 and it demands to be consumed immediately. As technology advances, we can now complete tasks in hours that would have taken days or weeks, giving us all a sense that we must keep up.

Or could it be that time itself is being compressed as we try and squeeze more? You may have noticed that new songs are getting shorter, most viral videos are less than 20 seconds and students are being encouraged to watch lectures at 2x the speed. Even our sleep is being hijacked to make every second count.

Last year felt like the peak of this phenomenon – we were all buffeted by once in a generation events in quick fire succession: double digit inflation, rising interest rates, unprecedented energy costs, all whilst emerging from a global pandemic. War in Europe, weather records smashed, political and constitutional upheaval; four chancellors, three prime ministers, two monarchs all in the space of six months! 2022 seemed to be over in the blink of an eye and yet simultaneously it felt like a never-ending rollercoaster none of us could get off.

So where does a time-poor, notification addicted person start on their purpose journey?

There must be several national library’s worth of books and millions of blogs and videos on this subject and often the advice is to start with exploring what motivates you, your values and fundamentally what you believe in.

For many, myself included, giving back to the people and communities you most identify with is a great place to start. There is a myriad of ways to connect with a cause, place or community and the simple act of giving money to a charity in that space is usually at the top of the list for most. It’s an instant hit of feel good that only takes a minute to complete.

You can give when you like, as much as you can afford and as often as you choose. The UK government will add to your donation, if you and the organisation are eligible, and you can be reassured the charity will use it in the most effective way possible.

Many charities are exceptionally good at engaging their donors by sharing stories about the difference they are making, but a bit like those inviting app notifications, the buzz can be short-lived.

Beyond direct donations, there are other forms of giving which charities, social enterprises and community groups benefit greatly from, such as campaigning, fundraising and donating items to charity shops or food banks.

About a decade ago, I started fundraising for a charity that helped me come to terms with a difficult time in my childhood. Over several years, I took part in organised runs, rattled tins and climbed mountains. I also spoke publicly about the cause, with the charities blessing and support.

This experience ignited a lasting passion for volunteering, and I recently joined the board of trustees for a charity in my hometown, supporting children who are at risk or might be at risk of homelessness, a cause dear to my heart.

Beyond the formalities of charity trusteeship, there are other ways to use your skills for good. Popularised by the legal profession, pro-bono or skills-based volunteering can be a highly effective way of doing good, using the skills you already have and developing new ones along the way.

Many employers already facilitate this type of giving at work; CV writing workshops, interview coaching and life-skills classes are all great examples.

At Pilotlight, we take this approach one step further. For over 25 years, we have been matching busy professionals with charities to help transform their strategy, operations and effectiveness. Our participants, who we affectionately call ‘Pilotlighters’, are invited to join a carefully curated team of advisors to support a charity leader. The teams are supported by a highly experienced Pilotlight Project Manager, to drive outcomes and make the most of everyone’s time.

So, wherever you are on your purpose journey, it is important to recognise that your time is the most valuable gift you can give.

Figuring how you want to share it with the causes and communities that mean the most to you is all part of the fun.  

Written by
Profile picture for user Tom Leavesley-Matthews
Tom Leavesley-Matthews
Head of Partnerships - Pilotlight

Let’s stay generous

Together, we can do more for our charities and communities and it starts with the gift of giving – your time and skills.

A white haired woman handing out cups of tea