Updated: Oct 22
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If you’re anything like me, the administrative side of life is arguably the most mind numbing aspect to being an adult, and we avoid it at all costs. The thought of having to call a customer service line sends me into a spiral of pre-annoyance, 100% annoyance, and then pissed that I don’t have someone to do these tasks for me. In all the years I’ve spent in business for myself, I couldn’t have set aside an hour to find a virtual assistant? No. The answer is no. Because it would be MORE work to tell a VA what to do and how to do it, than it is for me to do it myself.
But I don’t do it myself, unless there’s a consequence. If a consequence is established, the task will be completed at the very last second. The quality does not falter and it's well done, but done at the last second.
I’ve had several people ask me if I simply have social anxiety in regards to talking on the phone. No, there’s nothing anxiety-like about it, and I've had my fair share of anxiety throughout the years. It's annoyance.
Calling is a slow, one thing at a time event, and I am a very fast, several balls in the air all the time person. Phone tree, explaining why I’m calling, then explaining the problem, then being transferred and explaining again, and then being disconnected and starting the process over, and then finally reaching someone who can help, and feeling relieved, only to find out they didn’t fix anything, and the whole problem starts over a week later with another required phone call... it's the SLOWEST thing ever. And the worst part is, it’s most definitely NOT the customer service reps fault… they’re just trying to do their job, so I can’t take out any frustration on them, and I end up sitting and stewing in my own annoyance for what feels like forever plus an extra day. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh first world problems! Amiright?!?!?!?!
All of that ridiculousness to say that I starting scheduling in a monthly AA day (Annoying Admin). AA is the day that I can pencil in and feel ok about procrastinating the rest of the month. AA day is when I take care of the family bills, review subscriptions, evaluate budget, catch up on business accounting, do all my grandma's life admin stuff, throw out papers, meal plan, organize the calendars, track goals, basically all the stuff that I have to physically sit down at a desk. I have my household of 6 people, my grandma’s household, and my business to keep up on, and shit will literally hit the fan if I don’t (there’s my consequence). Have I mentioned I have raging ADHD? That’s a chat for a different day.
To prepare for AA day, I try to be consistent with keeping all the papers together in one place so they’re easy to find. I also make sure that I workout and eat before I tackle all the stuff. Let’s face it, a hangry female with bouncing off the walls creative energy and desk work does not mix… so I try to mitigate this as much as I can. I also ensure no interruptions (I might threaten my kids just a little bit). I do glance over everything and make myself a checklist, as there’s a lot of dopamine involved in checking things off a list! Now, the funny thing is, once I get started, it goes pretty quickly. The tasks I’ve been putting off really only take a few minutes here and a few minutes there. I know this. I remind myself of this every single month, but it really doesn’t matter (HELLO executive dysfunction!). If you know anything about a neuro-spicy brain versus a vanilla brain, it will make sense to you, but if you don’t, you’ll probably make some type of know it all comment like, “it’s not difficult, just do it! You’re just being lazy!” Blah Blah. Eyeroll. I've heard it all.
Anywho, off on a tangent again. I started this article with the phrase, “if you’re anything like me…” and I did that because I’ve learned a lot about psychology and human behavior over the past several years and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that birds of a feather flock together.
Sooooooo..... let me share with you some of the administrative “hacks” that have been working for me lately, and perhaps you might be inspired to try something similar. Will we ever really “have our shit together”? Probably not… but if you're in a state of overwhelm, here are a few easy ways to give it a go and not lose your mind.
Instead of buying seven different paper planners throughout the year (we are paper planner people, aren’t we? So satisfying!), I bought a really cute binder, tabs, stickers and folders so that I can print out my ideal planner layout (daily and weekly) for what I know works for me. I do sometimes still go off-track, but I have all the stuff on hand, and I simply need to re-evaluate my daily or weekly page format to see what wasn’t working, adjust it and print out more. I also keep a money tab in there, a brain dump tab (that one is pure chaos, let me tell you), ideas to research tab (so I don’t forget), fitness tab for workout tracking, and a tab for each of my kids that I can write notes, gift ideas, reminders, etc.
I started using an old school cork board again. Just a cheapie cork board mounted to the wall by my calendar where I can hang up the School Spirit Week dress up days, the sports schedules, the club I will certainly forget to sign them up for, etc, etc. There is SO MUCH PAPER that comes home. All of it gets thumbtacked to the board and sorted through on AA day. This ensures that some of the more urgent matters are right in front of my face and lessens the chances that I will miss the deadline.
My planning wall in my office... stalker proofed. The internet is a crazy place, yall.
I was using a dry erase calendar for a long time, but I found that there’s often not enough writing space and even the thinnest point markers are too big to get everything noted in there. It’s also highly likely that someone is going to rub up against it and erase my whole life and I will panic. So instead, I’m using one of the big, office desk calendars with the month pages that rip off, and I hang it on the wall. It has plenty of space and lines and I can use all my colored pens and stickers and sticky notes on it. Because I need things visually available all the time so that I remember, this calendar method works really well. The big month on the wall, smaller daily/weekly to-dos in the binder planner.
I keep two separate chalkboard calendars in my office area, also hanging up on the walls. One is for my business planning, where I figure out what I’m going to post about that day, I can break my projects into smaller pieces easily, I can easily see how many more days I have until a client deadline, etc. The other is for Hunter’s homeschooling schedule so that we both can see what he needs to get done and we can move stuff around easily if we want to go rock climbing one day or thrifting or whatever. I like using color coded sticky notes for this, as they are easy to rearrange.
Clipboards are amazing. Install some tiny mug hooks into the wall and keep your project papers organized and clipped together. I always feel like a real 1985 muscle man trainer when I carry around my clipboard. I also travel back in time to 1996 every day and print out important things for whatever class I’m taking at the time, and stick it in my three ring binder collection. I know everything’s electronic now, but damnit, I love to highlight words!
One of the main themes here is having important things in my face all the time. When I was diagnosed with ADHD and started working with a brilliant specialist in the field, she taught me that ADHDers have a big problem with object permanence. This means that our brains easily forget things if it’s not in view. So if you know or love someone with ADHD, they probably have a lot piles of things sitting out (where they can see them). Don't move the piles. I was happy to find out that this wasn’t a moral failure of mine, but rather a survival mechanism, and since then have learned to work with the positive aspects of adhd. If that means everything gets hung up on the walls, great! Works for me! Maybe it will work for you too.
Here is my Amazon list for everything mentioned in this article. This is an affiliate link, which means that I can receive a small commission for recommending these products, at no additional cost to you. I'm also more than happy to email you the daily/weekly planner page templates that I made as well! You can edit and make them your own... just send me a message or comment here and I'll get it over to you. Happy Planning!