Month: December 2017

Life administration

Life administration

With a new year just around the corner, I’d like to inspire you to feel more together. I had a pretty great year and I think at least in part that was due to getting shit done. So instead of lofty resolutions or meaningful goals, here are some completely non-aspirational suggestions for things you can do in the first few weeks of January to set yourself up for a more organised life in 2018. It’s time for Life Administration 101.

I would bet that a few of these items will have been on your mental to do list for a while now. Well, let’s make a commitment to change that. You don’t have to do everything (I’m not your mum), but they are all good and necessary things that will help you feel more organised in life.

Organise your organising

Before you do anything else, get yourself a calendar, diary or planner (or all three!) It doesn’t have to be anything flash (though I am heavily addicted to stationery so I would provide enablement if you want to go there). Once you have your chosen scheduling tool, start filling in all the events and appointments you already know about: birthdays, anniversaries, special dates, holidays, appointments, etc. You might like to liven your planner up with stickers, coloured pens or anything else that takes your fancy. By making this a fun task, you are more likely to commit to using the planner in the future. Keep it visible and look at it often, adding in new entries as they arise. You can also use it to mark down when bills need to be paid, when to call your parents, and other things you have a tendency to forget.

Look after your health

Do you have a regular dental checkup? What about an annual health check? No? 2018 is the year to change that. Your health is supremely important but so often we neglect it due to time, money, or other reasons. Not any more! Get out your planner and jump on the internet (or phone) and make a dentist appointment and a doctor check up. Probably would be a good idea to get an eye test as well!

While you are at it, this is a good time to take a look at your health insurance policy if you have one. Are you covered for everything you need? Have your circumstances changed since you took out the policy (including getting older)? If so, you may want to reduce or increase your cover. If nothing else, it’s worth doing a check every year or so against other health insurance providers to make sure you are getting good value for money.

Look after your future

It’s good to live in the present, but hopefully you (and I) will survive in good health for many long years. So it’s important to make sure you have a plan for retirement. When was the last time you thought about your superannuation? Whilst it is very complicated to the average person, superannuation is something that you should try to get a grasp on. Will you have enough to live on based on the growth of your super? If not, it might be wise to put a bit more money aside. A financial advisor can provide guidance, and your bank can usually put you in touch with someone (and it might not cost anything that way, which is a bonus!)

Look after your loved ones

The only true certainties in life are death and taxes, and while we have government to make sure we pay the latter, it’s kind of up to ourselves to sort out what happens with the former. This past year I committed to sorting out mine and my husband’s wills after letting our old ones languish for many years (like, over a decade). It really does give you peace of mind, especially if you travel (even though you are more likely to die in a car accident or slip in the shower at home – but let’s not think about that too deeply).

Having been through what happens when someone dies without a will, I can assure you the bit of time and money required to get a proper will is well spent. Ask around your friends for a recommendation, and then make a will appointment. The call takes only a few minutes, and the actual appointments are no more than an hour or two. If something happens to you, the will means your wishes are clearly detailed, and your loved ones will be saved a lot of stress in an already difficult time.

Commit to your filing

How do you manage all the paper information that arrives in your home? Do you have a series of disorganised piles, or a drawer that everything gets thrown into? Or do you have a filing system of some sort? If you do have a system, how often do you maintain it?

First let’s tackle what to do if you don’t have a system: get one. Accordion-style filing systems are cheap and don’t take up much room. Label the dividers with the kinds of paper information you want to keep, such as council rates, tax, insurance, water bills, etc. Once a month put your disorganised piles into the relevant divider in the file system. At the end of the year (financial or calendar, depending on your preference), cull out anything from the previous period (e.g. twelve months for bills, or five years for tax records). If you have a shredder, shred all this old information and use it as mulch in your garden. If you don’t have a shredder, find or borrow one because all that information is an identity thief’s dream – protect yourself!

Now the other filing area that often gets away from us is email. What does your email inbox look like? Do you have a page of actionable messages, or are you dealing with 11528 unread notifications? This can be a huge task, but you can get your email under control (I believe in you!) Set up folders much like you have for your paper filing system. Move emails into the relevant folders, flag actionable items, and (at least) every year do a cull of messages you no longer need. Also, take some time at the start of the year to revise your newsletter subscriptions. Most of what overwhelms us in email is stuff we don’t really need to see. Unsubscribe! You’ll feel much better, trust me.

Declutter, one room at a time

I find decluttering extremely cathartic. Taking a mess of chaos, and turning it neat and orderly – this gives me a huge sense of satisfaction. However, it can be very tiring – so break up your decluttering into achievable chunks. You might like to commit to decluttering just a single room each month. In your bedroom, clear out your closet and donate unwanted clothes. In the kitchen, toss out plastic containers without lids (recycle or repurpose), and compost any old food in your pantry, fridge or freezer. In the bathroom, clean the fan, and do an audit on half-used products (make a commit to use them up before you buy more). Just take it one room at a time, and keep the cycle going through the year, so you maintain control. Clutter, you will not prevail!

Make a to do list for the year

Now this isn’t a list for the daily, weekly, monthly tasks, this is the big one. This is the list of all those things you need to fix, buy, replace, organise and do, that take money, time and effort. Write them all down to give yourself some accountability, and check them off throughout the year. Leave room to add new things as they occur to you. Here’s mine:

  • Buy a new mattress
  • Get bathroom retiled
  • Buy and set up pantry organisers
  • Fix or replace toilet seat
  • Clean jewellery
  • Tidy and organise shoe cupboard
  • Scan game receipts and put in database
  • Wash car more than once a year


Got other life administration suggestions? I’d love to hear them – jot down your thoughts in the comments!