It was nearly 2am when I started this blog post, having intended to spend the entirety of the evening in question writing one. Not this one, actually, but another that I was yet to think of a subject for (so maybe this one? Who really knows) and never got around to doing.
The reason? Admin. Perhaps the most simultaneously boring (even the word is dull) and stressful (in my ever-dramatic opinion) activity in the land, personal admin seems to be taking up an unpleasant proportion of my free time of late, and to add insult to injury, I’m just realising that it’s never going to end.
There’s the bills, and the rent, and the replying to emails and whatsapps and texts, and the tasks required to keep and maintain a car and a home, and the opticians/doctors/hair appointments, and the food shopping and the laundry and the ironing and oh god I’m literally bored just listing them and I’ve only scratched the surface. Essentially, there’s a hell of a lot of stuff that we seem to have to do just to exist as a functioning, adult member of society before we even get on to the eating, sleeping, playing, or trying to make your fortune.
The other day, I forgot to pay my car tax. ‘You FORGOT?!’ I can hear all organised people, and certainly my mother, saying incredulously. Well, yes, sort of. It was on a mental to do list with a load of other stuff and then other important things strode aggressively onto the mental to do list too and demanded my attention sooner and then suddenly there I was staring at my V11 reminder showing a deadline that was two weeks earlier than that day’s date and thinking to myself: Oh. Fuck.
Can we all just make a collective decision to sack off the personal admin, please?
To go on about it for what probably feels like the fiftieth time, I was ill for the first half of June, and I raise it again only to make that point that in that time – a mere two weeks of being snotty and exhausted and slacking on the constant admin loop, although not ditching it altogether – the administration of my whole world has apparently collapsed. Hence the car tax fiasco (which is sorted now, by the way), and the stockpile of returns to go to the post office, and the birthday cards and presents still on my to buy list, and the fact that my nan hasn’t heard from me in weeks and the more-of-a-minefield-than-usual that was my email inbox.
And so I’ve done what I do all the time anyway, and what we all do in response to personal admin tardiness. I’ve started all correspondence with the phrase ‘so sorry for the delayed response’ (or ‘sorry for being shit’ if it’s to a friend). We shouldn’t have to apologise for not being permanently reachable, that’s certainly true, but it’s also certainly true that most of these replies could have been done with relative speed and ease. In volume, however, which is apparently the only way that life admin cares to present itself, it can all suddenly become a bit overwhelming.
And that’s without owning a house, or having children or dependents, so I know to some I’ll appear to have it easy. Admittedly, blogging comes with more than its fair share of admin – yesterday I spent 75 minutes catching up on replies to Instagram comments, DMs and tweets, as an example – but I’m also starting to think that I might just be a bit fucking useless.
I desperately want to be a person who is ‘on top’ of it all, but having spent around 3 years now saying to myself ‘THIS will be the week I catch up‘, it’s becoming clear to me that that may never be the case. The problem with this is obviously that the infinite personal admin loop is just that – infinite, or until you die, where as I understand it some other poor individual has to pick up all the associated admin – so I’ll need to get a grip on it in order to continue muddling my way through adulthood. My sister, for example, is some kind of personal admin obliterator. Payments and appointments are made, presents are bought, clothes are ironed, everything is in order. It’s terrifying and hugely impressive.
By the time I actually sit down to do anything that isn’t admin, my head is so full of upcoming bills, missed parcel slips, birthday cards I’m already a week late on and Whatsapps I just remembered I read five days ago but didn’t respond to that it can be pretty difficult to focus. Eating dinner is interrupted by a message that I simply must send a reply to before I forget again. Reading is disturbed by thoughts of this bill or that bill and whether I’ve booked an appointment at the opticians yet. And blog post writing? Well, you might have noticed the decline in my output of late…
The other problem with the volume of admin that being a human in the twenty first century entails is thus; everything you plan to do gets involuntarily sucked onto the task list. When you spend your limited out of work time working through your non-work to do list, it starts to feel completely normal to place communicating and socialising with all of the people who are very much not work – my friends and family, that is, although some of you are pretty tricky at times – into the same category as everything else you ‘have’ to do. Seeing a family member, or checking in with a friend is another box on the mental to do list and in a world where we frequently lament the loss of meaningful human connection, that seems a sad state of affairs.
And thus ends what is essentially just a long, elaborate whine – I wish it was a joke, but I have to sort the money for my stupid little car’s failed MOT now. If there’s any way you’ve found to handle this, I’d love some tips (as long as you’re not going to say ‘make a list’, because I have those in abundance and no requirement for any more).
Oh, and it’s no longer 2am and it’s no longer the night I started this post…somehow the days and their corresponding tasks ran away with me and I’m finishing it a week and a half later. Bloody admin.
What I’m wearing
Jumpsuit – C/O Dorothy Perkins | Tee – Zara | Trainers – Superga| Bag – Zara | Earrings – C/O Pilgrim| Sunglasses – Primark
Photography: Robert Poor