How to… Make Time for Animals?
Illustrations and article by Raffi Marhaba
Welcome to a series of blog posts “How to…” In our first edition we are addressing a very common issue: time.
One question we get asked a lot is, “How do you make time for the animals?” We live in a technological era which has allowed us to share so much information, so fast, that it can sometimes be overwhelming to even begin to take action once we start thinking about our own responsibilities, like remunerated work, relationships, medical issues, personal struggles, etc. How do we find time to prioritize the things we need to do over the things we love to do? Here are some tips we came up with.
Note that these tips come from an able-bodied woman, with no children, who started Collectively Free with her wife while on a full-time job (design is a super hectic industry by the way) and while dealing with multiple systematic oppressions and personal struggles. We acknowledge that each individual has their own struggles, limitations, access to things, etc., but we hope that at least one of these tips can be implemented in your life.
Define Your Sense of Urgency
Let me ask you right now: What is your sense of urgency in regards to animal rights? Would you move somewhere specifically because of animal rights? Would you renounce buying a car or a house if that meant not being able to give financial help to your group? Would you turn down a job if that meant less time for the animals? I was confronted by these questions in Mexico by Eneko Perez – check out his brilliant article here. I also recommend reading “Animal Liberation Matters But Vegan Brunches Matter More.”
If we say our sense of urgency is 10 but we’re dedicating 5 hours a week to animals, we should probably reevaluate our sense of urgency – let’s be honest, we probably spend way more than 5 hours on Facebook alone!
If 5 hours a week is what you can give to animals, your sense of urgency is probably a 2 since other commitments and activities take priority.
Be realistic and establish your sense of urgency.
Limit the Excuses & Find Solutions
We usually tend to think we are the busiest people on Earth but often times that’s not the case. Of course, a lot of times our excuses are legitimate, but coming up with a list of excuses reinforces the same pattern we are trying to break. So limit the excuses, critically analyze them, and find solutions.
For example: “New York is a very busy place to live. I can’t fit any activism this week in my schedule.” Any at all? Let’s move to the next step.
Critically Analyze Time
Draw a timeline of your day and identify potential slots for animal rights.
For example: You wake up at 7, work from 9-7, get home at 8:15, and then only have time to eat and go to bed at 10:30-11:00.
Is waking up at 6:30 something you can do? You just scored 30 minutes. Is working on that meme or sending out that email to an activist something you can do at lunch break? Scored another 30-45 minutes. Do you take the subway? Bus? Can you read those articles you had bookmarked? You scored 1 hour. Do you have 15 minutes from the moment you got home to discuss pending issues with your team? Scored another 15 minutes. You just made 2:15+ hours for animals by simply critically analyzing time!
Here’s a sample of what my week used to look like (click to enlarge):
Is there anything in your week that you could adjust to make time? Note that there are so many variables in our lives and this schedule is simply to illustrate a real example of 1 week only while on a full-time job. For part-timers or freelancers it should be relatively easier. Today I spend 40-70 hours on AR a week.
Usually I would have more actions and events inserted in there, especially since at CF we strongly believe in supporting other causes, actions, and building bridges. But for the sake of being practical let’s stick to the proposed scenario.
Commitments: I identified the things I’m committed to and the things I am not. For example: I’m committed to going to the gym so that means I will cut some sleeping hours (reason why I wake up at 5:45), but usually I’m not willing to to sacrifice gym time to do tasks for CF (even though I have several times). However, I’m committed to doing video editing so I won’t go to as many social events as I’d like to.
“Is this sustainable?” It’s as sustainable as you’d like it to be.
Organize Yourself & Set Deadlines
A lot of times, when doing volunteer work, we tend to operate differently from our regular job. But why should we? Why shouldn’t we treat activism with the same seriousness as any job and give it the same set of strategies when it comes to organizing? Would you simply not show up to a meeting at work? Would you simply not stick to a deadline at work?
As a designer I learned to use a platform called Asana. I really love Asana because it takes all the distractions away that come with organizing on Facebook. It’s clean, it’s intuitive, it lets you set deadlines, reminders, assign tasks to specific members and it’s free!
For example: We are organizing our very first CF United event in June, a 4-day event of talks, community building and actions. In each task there are tons of subtasks so you can also keep track of different assignments within one big task. Check out how we broke our tasks down in Asana (click to enlarge):
Isn’t it awesome? Just visually it makes so much more sense and it helps me tremendously! Having a clear visual of deadlines is critical, and it will help you remind yourself of tasks that otherwise would have been forgotten with such busy days.
Consider using Asana or a similar platform to maximize your time.
Do it today. And do it collectively.
If you read this article and think it makes sense, commit yourself to doing it today! And do it with your team. Propose the same model to the team so that the workload can be better distributed.