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056: Define it to refine it

Define to Refine

It is important to have a mental model of what life admin is in order to be able to approach it in a more systematic way

Mia and Dinah start the episode by discussing how:

  • for most people, life admin is a blurry amorphous bundle of tasks – and with no mental model of the different categories and types of tasks is can be difficult to approach or share the tasks in a systematic way
  • their definition of Life admin – that it is not housework or parenting but it often overlaps; housework is defined as cooking, cleaning and laundry, parenting is about child-rearing and supports the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of your child; life admin is the third piece of the domestic labour puzzle – it includes the scheduling, booking, shopping, paperwork, and planning that often facilitates housework and parenting tasks, but also has its own areas of responsibility.
  • life admin is often conflated with housework and parenting and that can be  problematic because it can become hidden which is a big issue as life admin generates a significant portion of the mental load 
  • life admin often gets more complex and time-consuming at the precise time you have less time to manage it – particularly having children generates a significant amount of life admin
  • their recent survey of more than 300 Australians revealed that
    • the average Australian does almost 500 life admin tasks each year
    • parents grapple with 33% more life admin tasks than households without dependents 
    • 37% of people do life admin tasks for a parent or adult relative
  • most people think the reason their life admin is out of control is their lack of motivation and/or time  – but usually, the problem is not having the know-how or system and/or the lack of a scheduled time to do life admin

They discuss the cost of not having your life admin in control including:

  • spending more time than is necessary on it
  • wasting money  – it has been estimated that Australians are paying more than $11 billion in ‘loyalty tax’ by not shopping around. 
  • cognitive load – stress, anxiety, overwhelm – worrying, scared of forgetting, monkey mind, brain chatter. 
  • relationship friction – their survey showed that life admin causes friction in 85% of two-parent households 

Mia and Dinah describe their framework for life admin:

  • that there are two types of life admin – everyday life admin that occurs cyclically or seasonally and event-based life admin (eg getting married) 
  • that there are four categories of life admin and that these can help you prioritise and determine how you will share them in your household
    • household operations eg meal planning, decluttering, paying bills
    • personal affairs such as tax, super, other investments wills and health checks
    • comparison shopping for plans and policies
    • leisure and social planning eg holidays, Xmas, social life, kids extracurricular
  • think about life admin tasks by how much time is required to get them done – 
    • Hour of Power – recurring slot in the schedule for chunky life admin tasks 
    • 2 Minutes Too Easy – tasks to complete as they arise
    • 10 Minute Time Killer – tasks to complete in idle time – include them in a to-do list


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