Every day, an unseen form of labour creeps into our lives, stealing precious moments of free time, placing a strain on our schedules, our relationships and our sanity, and recouping neither appreciation nor compensation in return.
This labour is admin - the kind of secretarial and managerial work necessary to run a life and a household: from scheduling doctor's appointments to planning a wedding, researching schools, filling out paperwork and paying bills. In The Art of Life Admin, Elizabeth Emens reveals the insidious nature of these tasks that pile up in the margins of our lives, dismissed as trivial or insignificant, unrecognized and unrewarded. In a compelling, and wholly original manner, Emens tackles the problem of admin in all its guises, explores how this form of labour is created, how it affects our lives and how we might avoid, reduce and redistribute admin whenever possible.
Drawing on her own personal struggle with admin and the stories of others, Emens offers a valuable new perspective into how we - through individual and societal choices, changes in law and policy, creation of market alternatives and increased awareness in the workplace - can take back control of our time, once and for all.
Reading this book should be at the top of your To Do list.
About the Author
Elizabeth F. Emens is Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. She was educated at Yale and Cambridge, where she earned her PhD. She lives in New York City.
"In [The Art of] Life Admin Elizabeth Emens plunges boldly into the beige underworld of modern life, exposing the unpaid, unregulated, and often unseen labour that steals our free time. Thinking about life admin turns out to be a lot more fun than doing it: Emens maps the political, psychological, and practical landscape of "admin hell" with humour and hopefulness. This intelligent, witty book will shed new light on everyone's to-do list"
Dr Clare Carlisle Tresch, King's College London
"They say that death and taxes are the only two sure things in life. But they left out all the in-between car repair, PTA, doctors' appointments, home maintenance, planning meals, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook . . . The Art of Life Admin tackles the tough reality of time-clutter in a world of ever-hastening deadlines and demands. There are many books telling us how to organize a closet or the kitchen. Author Elizabeth Emens takes on the sorting of our brains. With wit and intelligence, she provides quiet paths of resistance to everyday stresses, simple tweaks to thought and routine that will melt away the anxious paralysis we often feel in states of bewildered busy-ness. There is calm at the end of Emens' rainbow, and the deep sense of accomplishment that clarity of focus endows"
Patricia J. Williams, columnist, The Nation Magazine, and Professor of Law, Columbia University