063: The 5 myths of life admin

Season #7 Episode #63

There are challenges to life admin but they’re not what you think they are. In this episode, Mia and Dinah dispel the most common myths they hear that people tell themselves when it comes to life admin.

Mia and Dinah have been talking to people about their life admin for the last 4 years: one-on-one with friends and coaching clients, in corporate presentations that they give, and when we’re running workshops with groups. They hear the same myths mentioned again and again when it comes to streamlining life admin.

The myths of life admin

Life admin myth #1: It just takes willpower

  • Willpower is about self-control, emotional regulation, being mindful to respond rather than react and make intentional choices
  • Research has shown that willpower is finite, that it is depleted by self-control tasks during the day. So if you’ve had a day where you’ve had to exercise willpower to avoid certain things or to do certain things, then by evening you’re more likely to succumb to things you want to avoid.
  • If you’re relying on willpower to get on top of life admin then doing anything in the evening is likely not going to happen as your willpower is too depleted. Mia and Dinah recommend:
    • scheduling your Hour of Power for the morning or lunchtime
    • making your important decisions during high-willpower moments.
  • However, willpower is only required when a task or decision is hard. As you build your life admin skills and set up your environment to make things easier, then you won’t need to draw on willpower. The tasks won’t demand you to control your emotions and you won't feel that you're forcing yourself to do something unpleasant. 

Life admin myth #2: It just takes more motivation

  • Motivation is a reason for acting or behaving in a particular way.
  • Mia and Dinah discuss the benefits of linking the time dedicated to life admin to your goals and values, so you can see the bigger picture. You need to reflect and ask yourself what it's costing you not to have this sorted and anchor the activities to what is important to you.
  • They also discuss how they based each chapter of their book to support behaviour change based on the habit model from BJ Fogg’s book Tiny Habits  -  Behaviour = Motivation x Ability x Trigger (B = M x T)
  • If you maximise your ability to do life admin, and are aware of the relevant triggers for certain life admin tasks, then you don't need to draw on a huge amount of motivation to get it done. Focus more on mastering skills and you won't have to summon motivation to do life admin tasks.

Life admin myth #3: I know how to do it well

  • Most people overestimate their ability with respect to life admin. However, if you ask people when is the best time to do certain life admin tasks or the steps involved or the criteria you should focus on, they struggle to respond. 
  • Investing time in learning shortcuts, decision making criteria, better apps, better websites to consult, means you increase your ability and it's easier to make behaviour changes when it feels easy. 

Life admin myth #4: I just need more time

  • Pandemic lockdowns taught us that even given more spare time due to no commutes, no social lives, no extracurricular activities, not everyone tied up all the loose ends in their lives.
  • Most people try to do life admin in an ad hoc way with no dedicated time slot
  • You need to ruthlessly prioritise, delegate, share, and outsource and schedule a regular Hour of Power to make the time for tasks that require you to concentrate. This means you have less admin to do, are focused on valuable life admin tasks, and have a dedicate time slot to do it within where you

Life admin myth #5: My paper system is ok

  • If you are single and live alone and don’t need to consult with anyone about your time or need to share tasks then paper systems are ok
  • However if you continue with paper you are likely to play the CEO of your household and carry the mental load that goes along with that
  • The key benefits of digital tools for to-do lists, calendar, passwords are:
    • accessible from anywhere via your phone
    • ability to file in one click from email to cloud storage
    • shareable - others can contribute and provides transparency
    • backed up in cloud
    • reduces clutter 
    • environmentally friendly.

Life admin resources


Please head to the Life Admin Life Hacks FacebookInsta or LinkedIn pages to connect with listeners and share your thoughts, questions or suggestions.