How a planner can reduce life admin time

You can’t always reduce the amount of life admin. There are emails to read, forms to fill out, phone calls to make, chores to do. But how you arrange and manage them can reduce the time it takes to complete the admin. This can be through batch-processing, mind-dumping, routines, allocating thinking time and wait-time tasks.

Life’s short. Don’t waste it on life admin.

Batch Processing Life Admin

If there’s anything that’s increased in work and home lives over the past years (apart from COVID), it’s admin.

Arguably, life is more complicated today and comes with more administrative load. According to a Life Admin survey in 2021, 21% of Australians had reduced their workload due to life admin demands. 47% of participants said they might pursue career opportunities if their life admin was under better control.

One little tip to bring more balance to life admin is to batch process.

How to batch process at home

You might batch process at work to save time. There’s a time investment setting up to start work, and grouping similar tasks together saves that setup time as you only do it once. For example, having fixed times of the day to answer emails all in one go. Or completing all writing tasks in one go like reports, blog posts or assessment feedback.

You can use the same idea to batch process at home. Set aside 10-20 mins on a Saturday morning or one evening to complete your home life admin. This might include paying all invoices for the week, claiming on NDIS, and checking bank accounts. By having all the information, apps and tabs open that you need in one go it makes it faster to process multiple similar items at once. Time saver! In Life Admin Hacks, they call this an ‘Hour of Power’, but it’s just bundling admin together and batch processing.

This also works well on a longer-term. Make a time to book all the appointments you need in advance at the start of the year e.g. dental appointments, medical check-ups, ndis therapy appointments. With only a few phone calls at the start of a year, you can set up a yearly calendar of appointments with the times that suit you. This is a very proactive way of addressing the anticipation of tasks as part of mental load (see next section).

So you don’t forget, store these admin tasks in a to-do list in your planner (a Master List, or just a to-do on the day you will do your admin). That way you’re not going through tons of paperwork or using up brain power trying to remember what you need to do. And now you’ve saved time both in thinking/remembering time, and in the set up time to start work.


Part of the life admin load is the cognitive (brain) load in remembering everything that needs to be done. It’s thinking about the kid’s school schedules and planning for what they need. It’s organising play dates and preparing the snacks, spare clothes, and the time. Mental load includes having to think about what food is in the cupboard and what to cook for dinner, as well as remembering that you need to book dental appointments

Arguably, the bulk of this often falls on women – the anticipation of tasks/needs, the considering of options how to solve it, and the actual progress and action. Some research shows negative links between mental health and the amount of mental load that women take on, with increased relationship conflict, decreased life satisfaction, and greater exhaustion being experienced by the person carrying the mental load.

A planner can help with this mental load by being a place mind-dump. Either in a Master List, or on a notes page, write out all the things that have popped into your mind. Once it’s on paper, you can often free up your mental space because you don’t have to keep remembering in your head.

You can then go the next step of moving mind-dump activities into the calendar for daily to-dos. If there’s a playdate coming up, add snacks to that week’s shopping list in advance so you’re prepared. Want to reduce the amount of thinking and research about a task? Limit yourself to either 3 options, or 5 minutes of consideration.


So how do you reduce admin, manage workload, and save brain power at work and home so you have more time to enjoy life? With routines.

Routines are beneficial because they can “buffer the adverse impact of stress exposure on mental health.” They provide a sense of control and regularity in the face of life stresses. Routines conserve energy due to their automatic set of actions. They also increase our effectiveness to get things done. If our mental resources aren’t taken up by thinking about what to do next, it frees up resources for increased mental, creative and emotional performance. It’s even been claimed that routines contribute to making life feel meaningful.

Routines help structure parts of the day so you don’t have to think, just do. It can free your mind to think on other things (like being creative) while sneakily meeting your goals. Routines can be ways to carve our mental space for creativity. They are also a great way to help form new habits.

So, if you want to be more efficient, put in less effort yet be more creative and happy, employ routines.

Routines at work

Look for where there’s repeated or routine work. You may be a creative knowledge worker, but there will still be processes, events or tasks that are similar.

We’ve got four ways to implement work routines. This is about finding balance in your work life, through simplifying the complex work that we do.

Routines at home

But routines don’t have to just be at work – they can be at home too, to simplify the morning and after school activities that need to be done.

Set a routine of all the tasks you need to do each morning, including any habits you want to pick up. Record them step wise on a visual note, or on wrist bands that you take off as you complete a step, or on a poster. It might read something like this morning routine here.

We’ve experimented with different after school routines, including using the brili app for ADHD that provides motivation around routines and task completion. But we still come back to a paper routine written down in the planner that we continue to refer to.

Allocating thinking time

How much of a task completion is just spent thinking about it, pondering options, and considering a response or action? When doing a complex task, allow yourself a day to think about it first before any action.

Planning a holiday? Writing an email? Planning a birthday party? Sleep on it overnight and allow your brain to come up with some ideas in its “off” time. You might find that the actual task is a lot quicker now because you can go straight into action. Your brain is good at solving problems and coming up with creative solutions while you sleep, go for a run, or relax in the shower.

Wait-time tasks for life admin

We can’t always reduce life admin, but outside of routines and batch processing, you can also use wait-time for powering through life admin tasks.

If you have a Master List or a mind-dump of things that need to happen, refer to this list when you have wait-time. Maybe you’re waiting to pick the kids up from school. Or perhaps waiting in a queue or for the bath to run. Pull up your list and complete a quick task right away. Done.

But can you actually reduce life admin?

Our tips are for managing your time and organising admin. But can you reduce it?

Well, to reduce life admin itself, here are a couple of ideas.

  1. From the book The ChatGPT Revolution by Donna McGeorge, she suggests using Generative AI to create your meal plans, write shopping lists, suggest gift ideas, write emails, come up with fitness plans, and do travel research for you. AI, depending on its reliability, can help with considering options and actually completing the work.
  2. Don’t change too much. Having a seasonal or rotating menu during the week can reduce the amount of thought you have to put into meals and shopping lists. We have seasonal meal plans – every winter we rotate each week through very similar meals like curry and rice, mexican, pasta, and roast tray bakes. This means that the grocery lists are similar week to week, and so less thinking required.
  3. Just say no. Last minute requests? Say no. Too many activities that you’re running around to? Do less. Too much stuff to clean? Go more minimalist.

What about ndis admin?

If you are self-managed on ndis, there’s a whole level of life admin associated with that. From making appointments, filling out service agreements, completing questionnaires, doing intervention ‘homework’, to paying bills, filing invoices and holding review appointments.

Some tricks to help make this admin run smoother with the help of your planner include:

  1. Track behaviours on the day they occur. From meltdowns, self-harm incidents, toileting accidents or executive functioning fails, record them in the planner. When you have appointments for goal reviews, service agreements or therapy, you’ll often get asked if certain things occur and how often. For example, how often does your child express physical aggression and to what extent? Unless you have an amazing memory, having it written down as a record allows you to be accurate every time you get asked.
  2. There are about a gazillion forms to fill out, including sharing information forms, service agreements, and client information forms. Use your planner to store essential information like names and contact details of your medical/therapy team, ndis goals, and family history.
  3. A planner is essential for organising appointments. When you have multiple therapists, clashes of appointments are likely. And if they work together (such as coming to a diagnosis), they often ask when you are seeing the other and vice versa. Having the appointment dates recorded the whole year in advance (because you batch processed all the appointment booking!) makes this super easy.
  4. Managing payments, claims and invoices is simple with a planner bill tracker. Recording payments required for the week, then batch processing them in a 15 minute admin time on a weekend, is a quick way to manage bills.

Minimise and automate life admin so you can spend more time doing whatever brings you joy.

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