Every day an unseen form of labor creeps into our lives—stealing precious moments of free time, placing a strain on our schedules and our relationships, and earning neither appreciation nor compensation in return. This labor is life admin: the kind of secretarial and managerial work necessary to run a life and a household.
Elizabeth Emens was a working mother with two young children, swamped like so many of us, when she realized that this invisible labor was consuming her. Desperate to survive and to help others along the way, she conducted interviews and focus groups to gather favorite tips and tricks, admin confessions, and the secrets of admin-happy households.
Life Admin tackles the problem of admin in all its forms, from everyday tasks like scheduling doctor appointments and paying bills, to life-cycle events like planning a wedding, a birth, a funeral. Emens explores how this labor is created, how it affects our lives, and how we might avoid, reduce, and redistribute admin whenever possible—as individuals and as a society.
A legal scholar and an Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, Elizabeth F. Emens earned her law degree at Yale and her Ph.D. at Cambridge. She lives in New York City.