It’s actually been noted that ‘errand paralysis’ is a result of burnout...
Living in the digital age means we’re accessible 24/7, or we’re expected to be available pretty much ALL of the time. Just think: if the phone rings, you answer right away. If it vibrates and flashes a new, unread message, we stop what we’re doing to check it. Oftentimes, if we fail to respond right away, we can be left with a feeling of guilt, but *newsflash* it’s simply impossible to be everything to everyone so people will undoubtedly be left disappointed – shocker!
And that leads us on to our second point: while you are not responsible for other people’s feelings or happiness, you are in charge of your own.
That means being too available can negatively affect us. We lose sight of our own priorities and before you know it, all the things you would have liked to have accomplished, well, they simply just never get done – you know, that ever-growing list of life admin? (The appointment that should have been booked two weeks ago, the pile of returns sat next to the front door, the flickering lightbulb that needs changing, the stack of unopened mail – you get the gist). So, it’s about time we learnt to say no and stopped being so readily available – those who truly deserve VIP access are usually not the ones who feel entitled to it!
You might have been reading this thinking yes! So true! I feel seen! Then life admin got mentioned. It’s not uncommon to procrastinate life admin tasks. In fact, Helen Anne Peterson coined the phrase ‘errand paralysis’ to describe the inability to deal with life admin, and not because we’re lazy and can’t be bothered to complete those jobs. No, it’s because of a mental block that appears each time we look at our endless to-do lists making them seem, well, impossible.
It’s actually been noted that ‘errand paralysis’ is a result of burnout, and as the rising number of overwhelmed individuals continues to increase, The World Health Organisation has announced that burnout will be legitimately acknowledged as a disease from 2022. It’s important to note that burnout is a direct result of the internalised notion that we should be working and accessible all the time – a fact that has been reinforced explicitly and implicitly since we were young.
So, how do we conquer life admin and live harmoniously with its presence?
“If it takes less than two minutes, then do it now.” – David Allen, Getting Things Done
Well, the thing with life admin is that it never stops firing new tasks at us, and when it rains, it pours! But we’ve found some handy knacks that help us tackle the increasing burden, and so we’re here to share them…
1. Write lists
As basic as it seems, there is a magical quality of putting pen to paper that helps us order the chaos and feel in control of the tasks at hand. What’s more, striking through a to-do list is addictively satisfying!
2. Set deadlines
Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time we have. That basically means the more time we allow for something the longer it will take to get done, so if we set realistic limits on the time we have to complete certain tasks, our productivity will skyrocket!
When the pile mounts, it’s all too easy to get stuck in a cycle of not knowing where to start, so we end up not starting anything at all, which only leads us to get frustrated with ourselves – a catch 22 situation! Distinguish what’s urgent (like, this should have been done yesterday!) and what’s important (as in, it can’t be totally dropped but it can be put off until tomorrow or next week) to get you started.
4. Designate space
The physical presence of life admin can be taunting, as though it’s winking at you from the corner of the room as you attempt to wind down. To make sure you have time to switch off and recharge your batteries, find an area you’re able to organise effectively – if you don’t have the space for an assigned room, a cupboard or a kitchen nook will work just as well. As the saying goes: out of sight, out of mind.
5. Take an admin day
Yep, you read that right – schedule an admin day into your diary. Admiral’s research revealed that on average we spend 13 days each year completing life admin, so there’s really no wonder it feels so difficult to stay on top of our hectic lives! Designating a day to life admin is not only essential for getting things in order, but it will boost your overall wellbeing, helping you feel lighter, more creative, and much more motivated.
6. Buddy up
Just like hitting the gym, life admin could also do with some moral support. Enlist time with a family member to go through your family documents, or schedule time with a friend, cheering each other on as you get cracking on your to-do lists. Sometimes we just need to talk it out, and like they say: a problem shared is a problem halved!
When you have a lot on your plate, asking for help can sometimes feel like a sign of weakness but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Being self-aware is important and recognising where you can share the responsibility will prevent you from feeling exhausted and stop the urgent tasks from drowning out the important ones.
8. Reward yourself
It might sound terribly indulgent but honey, you deserve it! Getting through a handful of the tasks that have been piling up is an accomplishment and sometimes we need that extra push of motivation to get them done.
MyFRP’s main objective is to help you keep on top of your life admin by securely storing and filing the office work of your day-to-day. The tool can help you stay on top of things like:
- Home maintenance (utility bills, due dates, renewals, home safety measures and reminders)
- Financial records (investments & assets, debts & repayments, pension plans, bank accounts)
- Employment history (workplace benefits, payroll details, shares)
- Insurance plans and policy numbers
- Mortgage agreements and rental contracts
- Pets, childcare and extra-curricular activities
- Family history, family health and caregiver instructions
- Passwords, logins and numbers
- Key contacts
- Future plans (Will, Powers of Attorney, Guardians of Minors, later life care, funeral wishes, preferred resting spot)
- Any other personal documents significant to you or your family