Has ‘Admin’ Taken Over Your Life?

Imagine a day when you got up, went to work, spent the day at work, left work, had a drink with a friend or a bite with your lovemate, got into bed, read your book, indulged in some slap ‘n tickle and went to sleep. Ho ho ho! How farcical that sounds. Because where, in that joyfully simplistic routine, have you shoe-horned in your boat-load of daily admin? Booked your wax, updated your iTunes, bookmarked your favourite inspaaaaw boards on Pinterest and attended your Genius Bar appt or, perhaps, if it’s another day of the week: called up Sky about your shonky Broadband connection, booked your Easyjet flights, rated your Uber?

As I have got older, I have discovered that efficiency is a double-edged sword. I am rigorous about replying to all my e-mails, entering all commitments into both my iPhone calendar and my Smythson diary, waxing my chin/brows/bush, listening to essential podcasts, reading 487 newspapers and blogs, writing my own blog, eyeing up the Headspace app but not quite ever opening it, inputting every separate piece of crockery into two online wedding lists, plus organising the rest of the %£!@$% wedding — AND OH GOD, HAS THE MONOTONY OF MY MINUTIAE KILLED YOU YET?

The more efficient (read: anal, with a equally strong love of pottering) you become, the more your life becomes wadded with admin. It seeps into my working day and my leisure time insidiously, swelling like a soufflé until it nudges guiltily at my conscience. Have I deleted my desktop, emptied my inbox, unlocked my PayPal? My list of min has become as trivial as it is dizzying. The little book of mindful colouring and small box of colouring pencils bought by my adorable mother for Christmas, lies pristine and un-opened, waiting for a unlikely night of frittering.

This is, as most first world problems are, a very modern problem. Like an avocado-induced belly-ache, or a broken spirulizer, these aren’t, to be frank, things your parents ever worried about. Because, as you may have noticed, almost all of the admin listed above is born of the smartphone age. Thirty years ago, not only was the internet a remote animal and social media an unborn beast, but there were no blogs, no streaming services. Sidenote: if you want to see a truly terrifying rota of min, then read this blog post that I stumbled across thanks to Google’s random chaos.

That said, it’s not just technology piling on the min; it is also human habits and behaviour. When I was a young warthog teenager, social events were fewer, FOMO non-existent and personal maintenance slacker. The Playboy bunnies were abstract sauce-pots; now everyone’s expected have the same dedication to beauty as a Victoria’s Secret Angel. A mani-pedi was something those hard glossy Americans got; a bi-weekly pilates class, for the gym bunny. You wouldn’t get panicked about missing Top of the Pops, or misplacing your Scrabble board, in the same way your life might feel over if you get a Netflix series behind everyone in the office, or get your iPhone (and by proxy, WhatsApp and Instagram) nicked.

Your life may be for living, pal, but mine is to do min. Of course, min is an umbrella term that is dramatically widening in scope. In 2016, watching TV and listening to a podcast has become min. We’re one step away from classifying ‘attending a party’ or ‘seeing a friend’ (soon to be rebranded as BFF – best friend maintenance) as min. I’ve certainly found that people moan about both activities as if they were min. About three seconds ago, I diagnosed myself with FOGEBN (Fear of Getting Eaten by Netflix – one of my catchier acronyms.) Because I’m skidding between Making of a Murderer, Empire, Peaky Blinders and The Bridge with a sort of demented lack of focus that comes from frequent multi-tasking.

It can feel like life is but a cheek-list; a litany of minor chores that become laughably looming in their inchoate existence. Much of the min repeats on you like self-perpetuating garlic. Like, why should I pluck the hair from my chin when it will only return in a few weeks? If you are a fellow min enthusiast, you may have experienced, in your lowest ebb, the desire to add ‘have shower’ to the ‘to do’ list, just so that you may tick it with gusto. I have recently learnt that I must watch Narcos – to find to the time to do requires more minutes for min. Min to do min — like making lists of lists. I’ve got so many lists of min that I could turn them into a book of meta-modern poems.

Last week I told my editor that I had a dream about not being on the intranet mail-out sent to all employees. “You’re so anxious!” she chuckled, as is her refrain. I didn’t correct her; but this time, it wasn’t about angst. It was about admin.

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Artwork by Natalie Bagniewska.

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