All the "stuff" | Productivity
11 June 2021
In today’s non-stop world of action, tackling a to-do list can feel like a constant battle. How much time do you spend working on that to-do list? Even worse — how much time do you spend thinking about that to-do list?
While life admin is a necessary part of our daily routines, too much of it can cause a considerable amount of stress. Want to gain control over your life (and brain) again? We share tips to help you stay on top of your life admin tasks and take back control of your day.
What is Life Admin?
The term “life admin” may not be one you’re familiar with, but it’s definitely something you’ve experienced.
Psychology Today describes life admin as “all of the office-type work it takes to run a life and a household. From dealing with routine aggravations like broken technology, to making daily decisions about what to eat and how to cook it, to managing big life-cycle events like a wedding, a pregnancy, or the funeral of a loved one.”
Think of life admin as the mental load that you carry when you think about all of your responsibilities. And it’s a common phenomenon. One 2018 survey determined that the average adult carries out 109 life admin tasks a year. This seemingly constant drip of non-crucial to-dos can start to feel like a second job, and it can wear on a person’s mental health.
Excessive life admin tasks can make you feel overwhelmed, dissatisfied with life and even experience errand paralysis, which has also been described as “millennial burnout.” Errand paralysis is when a huge pile of to-dos become so overwhelming that the individual finds themselves unable to keep up, which only gets worse as the tasks keep adding on.
The truth is, life admin will never go away. Responsibilities are a part of being an adult, and still need to be managed. However, you can set up your life so that you’re not feeling overwhelmed by these menial to-dos. The following tips can help you learn how to better manage the stress of those pesky life admin tasks.
1. Clean up your digital life
If you want to get your brain and life organized, the first place you should start is your digital intake. Go through your phone, social media accounts, email and computer and start removing every app, connection and notification you don’t need.
It may not feel like part of life admin, but every “ask” of you takes a toll in a small way. It can get to the point where unsubscribing to a newsletter can feel overwhelming!
A digital declutter truly can help with this burden. Our 15-step digital declutter checklist will help you get started!
2. Brain dump your tasks
You may think you have a grasp on that life to-do list, but unless you have it written out, it’s just taking up space in your head.
Write out all of the major categories of your life that require action: things like household chores, finances, your car, your social life, etc.
Then, fill up each category with every responsibility that you can think of that relates to that category. You might be surprised to find writing your issues out makes you feel better.
3. Create a rough to-do list
Once you have all of the brain dump written out, it’s time to create a plan of action. Break down all of your unfinished tasks into a to-do list and organize it how you want — it could be daily tasks, weekly tasks, monthly tasks or even yearly tasks.
No matter how small the task is, add it in anyways. Psychologists have found that accomplishing any task triggers the reward reactions in our brain, which motivates us to complete more tasks.
The more you complete, the more you’ll want to complete, which will lead to positive, productive momentum swinging in your favor.
Once you have your list in front of you, it’s time to prioritize. What tasks are the most urgent to complete? Which ones can wait for a while?
Organizing your tasks in order of importance can help you focus on what really needs to get done, and lets the lower-priority tasks fade to the background.
Once you have your list of priorities, review them with an extra critical eye. Are there tasks on that life admin list that can be removed or reduced? Perhaps that monthly book club can turn into a quarterly check-in. Or maybe you can get groceries delivered instead of your weekly trip.
Focus on what truly needs to get done, and ditch the rest. You can always add things back as life gets more manageable.
5. Make it actionable
If you want to keep from getting overwhelmed, it’s important to make your tasks actionable. It can be easy to see all of your tasks on paper and think that you can knock everything out over a weekend, but you need to think of the long game.
Take time to complete your tasks. Remember, you still have to live your life, so asking yourself to complete everything at once is a bit unrealistic. Give yourself a task or two to accomplish each day, and then give those tasks your full attention.
If you can do this consistently, you can stay on top of your to-do list while also remaining in a good mindset.
6. Get help where you can
You don’t have to do it all alone! Humans are pack creatures for a reason — we rely on each other and do things as a team. Don’t be afraid to talk to the people in your life about your life admin tasks. Even if they aren’t able to help you personally, they will likely be understanding of your circumstances and respect your time.
If you have a partner, see where they can pitch in on your list. If you have kids, consider having them help with the chores. The more open you are to others about your responsibilities, the more flexible the world around you becomes.
7. Use a life admin checklist
When it comes to managing your life and doing personal admin work, there’s no better solution than putting together a checklist or a life list planner. You can modify and personalize this list to fit you and your life perfectly.
This list is not exhaustive, but here are some examples of the types of tasks you could put on there.
- Set up automatic payments on your bills. As long as you know you’ll have the money in your account, this is a no-brainer. It’s one last thing you have to worry about, and it can clear up space in your head.
- Create a budget. Finances are one of the biggest stressors that adults have to deal with. Schedule time to review your budget monthly and stick to it.
- Organize your documents. Struggle to find your kids’ back-to-school forms, or your tax documents? We hear you. Having organized digital files (and physical file cabinets) can take a bit of that mental load off. Psst: To make this process easier, our app Charli uses AI to organize your files for you. Talk about less stress, eh?
- Track your spending on large items. How much are you paying for your rent, insurance, etc.? Have your subscription services gotten out of control? If so, sites like Truebill can help you out.
- Use a calendar and update it regularly. Your time fills up quickly. Find a place where you can see where it’s all going.
- Have a cleaning schedule. Schedule a day or two each month for deep cleaning, and for the other days have a small list of cleaning must-dos, like wiping down counters or picking up toys. This can make cleaning feel a bit more manageable.
- Plan your meals. It’s a lot easier to decide what to cook when you go to the grocery store with a plan in place. Use Pinterest or subscribe to cooking newsletters to inspire meal ideas. And don’t forget to save your favorites so you always know what to fall back on!
- Check in with yourself. How are you feeling? When was the last time you did something fun just for you? Life is about more than just the admin — make sure to treat yourself along the way.
Trust the process.
Regaining control of your life is an exciting prospect, but the reality is it will take time. It’s a never-ending process — nobody has a completely “optimized” life.
That’s why the real goal is to try and just get a little bit better each and every day. When it comes to embracing a process and sticking to it, Charli has three rules for that — check them out!