'It becomes this unmanageable beast': The reason you're struggling with basic life admin.

Listen to this story being read by Emma Gilman, here. 

I’m the kind of person that gets sh*t done. Unless I don’t. Which seems contradictory, but isn’t. 

So I will happily wake up at 5am. Get kids' lunches ready. Head to yoga. Grab a coffee. Tag team with husband to get kids ready for school. Get to the office. Tick off my to-do list which could involve writing 20-page research reports or preparing a presentation which I’ll give to a crowd of hundreds of industry professionals. Kicking goals, right? 

Except in the boot of my car I have a jacket that’s dry-clean only that I have not yet taken to the dry cleaner. 

It’s been there for three months. 

Watch: 5 tips to end procrastination. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

The remote control needed new batteries, so I just stopped watching TV. 

Since starting my job, my super has been going to an old, dormant super account. 

I’ve worked here for a decade.

And it turns out I’m not alone.

In a Facebook group I’m part of, someone posed the question: What’s the longest you have ever procrastinated about something? Cue the comments explosion. 


Decades to change a married name. Ten years to correct official documents. Piles of photos intended for albums sitting in boxes, the albums still blank. Oh my god yes, I thought, these are my people. 

Why can I be hyper-efficient in most areas of my life but fail to drop off a charity bag that has been sitting by the door for the better part of this year? 

Procrastination isn’t about putting off a task because it just seems "too hard". We do plenty of hard things, every day.

Researchers have found that procrastination is a coping strategy for avoiding difficult feelings (hello, anxiety and self-doubt). 

It’s true. When I think about updating my super details, I get a bit panicky and stressed. My superannuation bungle isn’t a matter of just clicking a few buttons (easy!) but dealing with the underlying feelings that I don’t know how to adult properly.

A voice somewhere deep down tells me that everyone else has their sh*t together. That I’m no good at this kind of thing.

Side note: What on earth is 'revenge bedtime procrastination'? Find out on this episode of Mamamia Out Loud. Post continues below.

This tiny, little, seemingly insignificant and totally fixable bit of life admin becomes a giant, unmanageable beast that confirms my belief that I am, in fact, a very bad human being.


It’s a spiral. And one that’s more comfortable to just ignore, because who wants to go there?

I am the type of person who will wake up in a cold sweat wondering where my birth certificate is. Not because I need it for anything, but just because it’s a reminder that my inadequate filing system for important documents is a sign that my life is clearly out of control. That I’m failing, somehow. 

On the original post in the Facebook group, I confessed (and it did feel like a confession) my personal procrastination crime. 

Someone responded by very kindly talking me through the process of transferring super and shared that they too had procrastinated with something similar for some time. It was this sense of being seen that did it for me. 

So I gave myself a pep-talk and started the process on my phone. Right there and then. 

I gave that little voice no time to tell me I was a rubbish human. And it was done. In less than two minutes. After years of avoidance. Holy crap! 

So will I now finally drop off my jacket at the dry-cleaner? Look, probably not. But the dopamine hit I got from my super transfer is enough to carry me through for a little while. 

That thread of people confessing to unchanged light bulbs and Medicare cards with misspelt names is a reminder that we are all just trying our very best and prioritising the things that need our attention now. 

And also, that sharing things we previously thought of as dirty little secrets lightens the load. 


We can do the hard things. 

And the easy ones too, as it turns out. 

Natasha Sholl is an ex-lawyer and writer living in Melbourne with her husband and four boys. Her superannuation details are up to date.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia

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