Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
January 1, 2019
I reached for "Life Admin: How I Learned to Do Less, Do Better, and Live More" by Elizabeth F. Emens not really knowing what to expect. After all, each one of us has some subconscious idea what admin is, but it can be sometimes difficult to define. For me, it is running errands, paying bills, getting things done. Crossing off items from the to-do list. Busy work, really, when you get to the bottom of it. That's essentially what the book is about - figuring out how to manage your life admin in more efficient way.
In the beginning, I was not even sure I will be able to get through the book. It starts almost like a dissertation in sociology. I was close to giving up, bored and irritated by all the thoughts on ‘gender roles’ and stuff like that. Luckily, if you last long enough, practical advice, tips, and real people stories will follow. The pages are filled with great advice about the division of work within the household, brilliant ideas like creating and participating in admin support or sharing groups, and even more obvious suggestions as to which shared apps to consider. Discussions on when you need (or not need) to use of personal assistants, cleaning help and babysitters can also be found.
One of my favorite chapters was an in-depth analysis of how different people approach their life admin. All people, according to the author, can be divided into four groups, each one handling their admin differently. It was really interesting to read what types of strategies each group employs to deal with their life admin, and you can actually learn a lot to help you just by studying other types of personalities.
The last chapter is a bit out there. It is "imagine life" type of list. It does its job of making you think and dream of what could be done differently in the world to make life admin less of a burden. It's a combination of imagined and real-life stories about how the outside forces (government, companies etc.) could operate in a way that would simplify the admin they imposing on people.
I would suggest "Life Admin" to anybody struggling to keep up with their life admin, is it for a first time in your life having to handle it alone, or just hoping to keep on top of all the things you need to take care, once and for all.
I have received a free copy of the book for the purpose of this review from NetGalley. The links in this post contain affiliate code.