T2P22 - Ad Hoc Admin
Happy Monday People! What better way to start our weeks with a delightful talk on administration? To be clear, not the bankrupt kind, rather the getting things in order kind. This last week has seen continued protests by Insulate Britain, who are seeking energy efficient homes in the UK to combat climate change. There have been a lot of complaints about how their form of protest is disruptive, but protests aren’t essentially meant to be convenient. 2 weeks later these protests have managed to keep prominent in the news, so it’ll be interesting to see if an agreement is reached and if that sets a precedent. Also, in the UK it is Black History Month, and Jamelia Donaldson offered her perspective on Black Pound Day and it’s importance to the black community. This last week also saw the unfortunate death of MP Sir David Amess, I can only send my thoughts to his loved ones, what makes this more concerning is that this comes rather soon after Jo Cox’s murder in 2016.
To start, let me clarify, I am writing this somewhat as a hypocrite. In my role, I must carry out a lot of administrative tasks to do my job well but also bring value to my programme. Outside of work, my commitment to admin is not quite at that level consistently, although I am working on it! Admin can be defined as the process or activity of running a business, organization, etc. Admin is essential to the daily running of business, as it leads to the recording and storage of information from meetings to ideas. This prevents information remaining tacit and supports it becoming explicit knowledge. It also allows for better use of time and increased productivity with the organisation, planning and prioritising of tasks. In the last year, there has been a significant rise in the number of people freelancing or beginning side hustles. The use of admin in these ventures can offer these same improvements too, it should be noted that this can be done in a tailored way to meet the needs of the operations. I’m consulting one friend on how they’re manage the admin of their new venture, and as much as they dread it, and run from it, admin comes all the same
I can think of 3 forms of admin off the top of my head, work, life and academic admin. Whilst I’m sure your organisation has it’s own way of carrying out admin, how do you conduct your life admin? As I continue to ‘adult’, one of my go tos these days is that I am carrying out life admin. Elizabeth Emens in her book Life Admin describes it as the office work of life. Apply those admin principles you employ at work now to your life outside of it. Since work is done for the day, you can pivot from clearing and addressing those emails you’d have received, to now reviewing and addressing any piling unopened letters, and if they’re piling up it may also be time to go paperless. My untested hypothesis on why people can begin to feel underwhelmed with all the tasks that fall under life admin is that they’re not clear on them. I think reluctance to write tasks or things down generally is a big contributor to that. A lot of us like to think we can remember a lot, even so why not write stuff down to ease the strain. One way I record weekly tasks is a planner, that’s split in to 3 sections, work, home and play! Life admin done well is not all about co-ordinating those laborious tasks, it’s also about ensuring that we have set aside time for some relaxation and self-care. These weekends have flown by, so it’d be a shame to let them go squandered.
I mentioned the use of a weekly planner, but it can also help to set some monthly and annual goals or targets set out in those 3 sections too (work, home and play). Doing it that way makes the steps needed to be taken to achieve those annual goals not so implausible. If you’re not sure of where to start with your life admin for this week, here are a few common ones:
- Insurance review
- Subscriptions review
- CV updates, you don’t need to be searching to update
- Update your address
- Plan in some down time
- Review your credit report
Tools to aid your admin:
- Calendars (your phone or a good old paper one)
Information management is an essential aspect of project/programme management, it’s key as the need for reliable and easy to access information allows well informed decision making in organisations of all sizes. Admin and information management are interlinked, and when information can’t be found it does not offer value to organisations.
Life is constant, and when poor life admin measures are kept unchecked it is easy to be swept away and stuck going through the motions. I imagine we all have smartphones, so let’s use them smarter, they can be used for more than alarms and social media, but also for automated tasks and reminders to us. Giving ourselves one less thing to worry about keeping int the front of our minds. So I hope this has served as some Monday Motivation and acts a prompt for getting on with life admin this evening or at least this week. If an excuse is coming to mind, consider the 2-minute rule –
It’s easy to let life admin pile up and it can be viewed as bureaucratic. You tell yourself, “I’ll just do that later.” Later arrives, and you’ve got 20 different small but annoying life admin tasks to take care of. Instead of letting life admin pile up, try to dispatch it ASAP. In Getting Things Done, Allen recommends that if you can take action on a task in less than two minutes, do it now instead of later. A lot of life admin can be carried out in two minutes or less!
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