In your job, you probably have plenty of administrative work — managerial and secretarial tasks like filing papers and answering emails. Unengaging and tedious, this admin is likely your least favorite part of your job, and yet is necessary to keep the rest of your responsibilities, and the business itself, going.
While you may not have thought about it before, you’re also laden with this kind of work at home, too. As Elizabeth Emens argues inLife Admin, running our personal lives and households — from relationships with friends and family, to the care and feeding of children, to the maintenance of our bodies and dwellings — requires performing a neverending slate of tasks.
Just as with job-related admin, “life admin” represents some of our least favorite, and most procrastinated on, to-dos. And yet completing them is essential to keeping our lives organized, functioning, and moving ahead.
Today we’ll talk about how to tame your life admin, so that it facilitates rather than hinders your actual life.
What Is Life Admin?
Emens calls life admin “the office work of life.”
It’s the kind of work an office manager or administrative assistant would do at an office, but you do it yourself because it’s for your own life and household, and most people can’t afford personal assistants to take care of this stuff for them.
Emens makes a distinction between admin and chores. Going grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and planting shrubs constitute chores. Creating a shopping list, figuring out which house cleaning supplies you need, and calling around to different nurseries to get prices on shrubs constitute life admin. Basically, if the task primarily involves mental work, it’s probably life admin and not a chore. But it’s not a hard line, so no need to get hung up on it.
A non-exhaustive list of life admin-type work includes the following:
Paying billsPaying parking ticketsFilling out applications for schools, scholarships, and after-school activitiesFiling your taxesAnswering personal emailsManaging health care and health insurance mattersMaking appointments for doctors and dentistsCalling/emailing customer supportArranging shopping returnsPlanning partiesPlanning vacations and making reservations for the tripPlanning and managing home improvement projectsManaging household financesPlanning meals and making shopping lists for the weekManaging the maintenance of vehiclesManaging household utilitiesPlanning/purchasing giftsPlanning and coordinating social eventsRVSP-ing for social eventsManaging household supplies
Life admin comes in seasons. When you’re in college, your life admin will consist of filling out FAFSA and scholarship forms, enrolling in classes, and managing student loans. When you become a homeowner, your life admin will include managing homeowner’s insurance and planning home improvement projects. When you have kids, life admin will involve signing your kids up for activities and scheduling doctor appointments. When you’re older, life admin will include managing Medicare and retirement plans.
While a lot of life admin involves smaller, routine, recurring tasks, it also includes tasks related to big,