This episode will help you think about how much time you need for life admin, in a whole new way.
In a survey that Mia and Dinah conducted earlier this year, participants stated that when it came to life admin, finding ways to spend less time on it was of prime importance. Achieving peace of mind came a close second. Time was also identified as the biggest obstacle to getting life admin under control: 40% felt they never had enough time to do it, closely followed by a lack of motivation.
The survey also identified that most people (60%) do their life admin at random and only 4% have a set time in their schedule to do these tasks. The plot thickens…
Mia concluded that while people say they don’t have time to do it, all the while they treat it like something that can be achieved in ‘magic time’. There is a disconnect in how long people think they need to do it and the fact that they don’t schedule a time to address it. The first ‘come to Jesus moment’ is to accept that you will need to schedule some regular time in your calendar to get to some of the important, chunky life admin tasks. And while you may sigh with resignation about putting such a boring recurring meeting into your calendar, you will actually achieve peace of mind knowing there is time set aside to deal with your to-do list.
When you have a dedicated time slot of life admin, you can stop worrying about how you’re going to get everything done.
Mia explained the ‘rock, pebbles and sand analogy’ that is often used in time management, where each element represents important, essential and trivial activities in your life. In terms of life admin, Mia and Dinah note:
- the rocks are the substantial life admin tasks that need dedicated time to get sorted – they call these Hour of Power tasks
- the pebbles are tasks that can be done in idle time – they call these 10 Minute Time Killers and
- the sand is small tasks that you should complete as they arise – they call these 2 Minutes Too Easy tasks.
They discuss each of these categories of tasks:
- Two Minutes Too Easy – these are the fast, easy tasks that can be done as soon as they appear on your radar. If you open an e-mail and a bill needs to be paid, open up your banking app and pay it there and then. Dinah notes it is important not to open your emails unless you have two minutes to process the tasks that inevitably lurk in there, otherwise you will quickly lead to email overwhelm.
- Ten Minute Time Killers – this category of tasks can be done in idle time. It might be filling in a form or some online shopping. Dinah notes that she attacks these while she is sort of watching TV, waiting to collect someone or during boring Zoom meetings. These tasks don’t need to be scheduled but you need to be confident that you know when you will get them done and a system to know what those tasks are. Dinah and Mia both have a dedicated list in their to-do list app to record these tasks. Mia says she gets her 10 Minute Time Killers done while her kids are having screen time. They also note that people often turn to social media when they have those 10-minute gaps – however, completing something off your to-do list is much more likely to improve your happiness.
- Hour of Power – this is time committed to substantial to-do list items where you need to concentrate. It may be to change your electricity provider or plan a birthday party or review your superannuation. This deserves a recurring time slot in your calendar. People give this time a fun name to get them in the right mindset. Dinah calls her time Life Admin Blitz and Mia calls her time – Set Me Up Sunday.
Mia notes that when they were writing Life Admin Hacks they crystalised the idea of a Monthly Momentum Meeting to do a regular life admin review. They borrowed the concept from Dave Allen, a productivity expert, who recommends using a regular review process to ‘get clear’, ‘get current’ and ‘get creative’. They also recommend adding a fourth C: ‘get collaborative’. This is time to review your goals and tasks so you can focus in the next month.
Dinah notes she actually has a Momentum Meeting each week to review their family schedule and to-do lists with her husband. They also discuss any major decisions like buying a new car. The consistency makes all the overwhelm go away and helps with accountability.