The Art of Life Admin: How To Do Less, Do It Better, and Live More
by Elizabeth Emens
This book will give you many hours of your life back.
‘Timely and necessary . . . a must-read’ Cal Newport, author of Digital Minimalism
Every day, an unseen form of labour creeps into our lives, stealing precious moments of free time, placing a strain on our schedules and relationships, and earning neither appreciation nor compensation in return. Scheduling doctor’s appointments. Planning a party. Buying a present. Filling out paperwork. This labour is ‘life admin’ – the kind of secretarial and managerial work necessary to run a life and a household.
Elizabeth Emens was a working mother with two young children, swamped like so many of us, when she realised that life admin was consuming her. Desperate to survive and to help others along the way, she gathered favourite tips and tricks, admin confessions, and the secrets of admin-happy households.
Drawing on her research and writing in a wholly original manner, Emens shows how this form of labour is created and how it affects our lives; how we might reduce, redistribute and even prevent it; what ‘admin personalities’ we might have; and how to deal with admin in relationships.
The Art of Life Admin is the book that will teach us all how to do less of it, and to do it better.
‘Reading The Art of Life Admin is like sitting down with a friend who knows exactly how it feels to be drowning in your To Do list, and throws you a very welcome lifeline to help you to make your way out’
Brigid Schulte, author of the New York Times bestseller Overwhelmed
‘Every so often you come across a book that really does profoundly change how you see the world. This is just such a book – it will, by force of its own genius, reprogram your life and give you new tools for seeing things as they actually are’
Tim Wu, author of The Attention Merchants
‘Emens maps the political, psychological and practical landscape of “admin hell” with humour and hopefulness. This intelligent, witty book will shed new light on everyone’s to-do list’
Dr Clare Carlisle Tresch, King’s College London
From Ideas to Try:
1) Find ways to make things end. For instance, try writing No Need to Reply (NNR) on texts and emails. Save others time; they might even return the favour.
2) Start bypassing the to-do list when you face real-time admin requests. Email someone the information she wants while she’s still standing there – so it never goes on your to-do list.
3) Spend your Admin Savings Time well. If you save yourself an hour, spend that hour doing something you really want – or need – for yourself.