5 Reasons to Discover Your Life Admin Personality
Want more ease, happiness, and success? Find out your life admin personality.
Posted Jun 28, 2019
Do you want to improve your ease at home and at work, your happiness in your relationships, and your success at achieving any goal that matters to you?
Then it’s time to find out your Life Admin Personality.
When I started researching life admin, I thought we all hated it. Life admin is the office work of life—the managerial and secretarial-type labor that people get paid to do in the office, but that we all do at home invisibly and for free. (For more on life admin, see this post.) Back then, I suspected that we all feel the same way about this time-consuming labor of life.
I was wrong.
After my interviews and brainstorming sessions with over a hundred individuals, and many more conversations in between, I’ve concluded that we have different admin personalities.
Knowing our personality matters. And so does knowing the personalities of those we live and work with.
The four life admin personalities are the Super Doer, the Reluctant Doer, the Admin Avoider, and the Admin Denier. This chart sums them up:
I’ve interviewed some fascinating people who really bring the personalities to life in my book. Like Vera, a self-proclaimed “Recovering Denier” who was planning her wedding—coming up a month later—when I interviewed her. I’ll blog about Vera another day.
Right now I want to share 5 reasons why understanding the personalities is worth your scarce time.
1. You can take the power back from admin.
Seeing life admin as a form of labor is the first step toward relief.
Admin is like gravity. It’s an invisible force all around us, weighing us down. That is, unless we understand how to make it work for us.
Imagine trying to hang a picture without understanding gravity.
You’re going to end up frustrated and surrounded by broken glass.
(Thanks to reader and writer Haben Girma for the analogy to gravity!)
We have to understand the features of admin—and especially the features of our relationship to admin—to make admin work for us rather than against us.
2. You can find your best approach to tackling any project.
Admin plays a role in most any goal. Knowing your admin personality means knowing what will work for you as you work to achieve your goals.
Let’s say you want to change your diet. Who thinks about the admin of that? But any new diet regime means learning about new ways of eating, new foods and recipes, and new places to find the ingredients or meals you need.
If you know you’re an Admin Avoider, then don’t adopt a diet that means tracking everything you eat. That will never work.
You'd probably want to try something simple, like cutting out whole categories of food.
If you’re a Super Doer, though, tracking what you eat might just give you zings of pleasure.
Keep in mind this is an example, not diet advice! Lots of factors go into our decisions about what to eat.
The point here is that our life admin personality is typically overlooked as a factor. But it's important if we're trying to change our eating—or pursue most any goal.
3. You can discover admin strategies that will work naturally for you.
Once you know your admin personality, you can explore strategies that others like you have used with success. For instance, if you’re a Reluctant Doer, like me, have you tried….
Do you ever have a growing list of friends you’ve been trying to make a date with (or a playdate for your kid)? Try a low-admin social event.
Rather than email each person and trade endless calendaring messages, just email everyone and name a time and place you want to be.
Pick a park or a bar or a gallery—whatever you like. No coordinating, no rescheduling.
However many people show, you’re somewhere you want to be anyway.
4. You can try out strategies you’d never have thought of.
Knowing your admin personality also means you can try out a different personality to find new admin strategies.
The four admin personalities might sound like a hierarchy—with Super Doer the best and everyone else struggling to keep up. But actually we can learn admin strategies from all the personalities.
For instance, if you’re a Super Doer, and you’re inclined to take care of admin quickly and efficiently, then you may not have tried this Admin Avoider strategy….
Admin Avoiders know that when people hand you admin, sometimes you can hand it back. I tried this at the doctor’s office not long ago. The clerk handed me the bill to submit to insurance, and I asked, “Is there any way you could submit this?” To my great surprise, she shrugged and said, “I guess so.”
(If you’re thinking that pushing back on insurance admin is a first-world solution to a first-world problem, then you are right! The problem of admin inequalities is one focus of my research and the subject of a future post.)
Deflecting is just one example of an Avoider strategy. More can be found in the Individual Strategies chapter of my book, which I've organized around the personalities and what strategies each personality can teach us. Without reading another word, though, you can try out new ways of relating to admin by imagining your way into another personality.
5. You can improve your relationship with loved ones.
Once you know your admin personality, you can start to recognize who shares yours—and who is very different from you.
One reader said she gave my book to a friend who complained her spouse didn’t see all the invisible admin labor she was doing—a “classic Denier,” the reader surmised. The Denier spouse read the book too, recognized the oversight, and offered to take on other household work to make up for it.
Seeing admin as labor and understanding our personalities can open new doors to harmony in our relationships at home and at work.
And to top it off, if you ask nicely, some loved ones might even take the Admin Personality Quiz, so you'll know their admin personalities with greater certainty. And then you both get to take a fun quiz.
Who doesn’t love a quiz?
A friend and I took the quiz aloud over dinner in Paris one night, while I was still editing it. I can’t promise you cheese that good, but I’ve tried to make the questions pleasurable—whether you do them solo or with friends.
The quiz is at the back of the book, and there’s a version of it on my website here (bottom right). Enjoy!