An Administrative Mind

Tuesday 24th May 2022.


Most of my life has been spent working as an administrator. Following my retirement in 2014, I continued to be an administrator. This article discusses the administrative mindset. It considers what it is like to be an administrator for most of a lifetime and how that activity in one sphere of one’s life affects what one does and how one thinks in other spheres. This was originally written on Thursday 18th November 2021.

A Tidy Mind

To be an administrator you have to have a tidy mind and be congenitally organised. Organisation, systems and pattern must be in your blood. Consistency is the most important thing in one’s behaviour. These are mental attributes and qualities of character that confer upon one the status of being a good administrator. Being good at administration is about being consistent, applying attention to minute detail and applying rules to one’s activities. I am not going to say that I have been a perfectly good administrator but I would argue that most of my administrative duties have been conducted reasonably well. True, I have made some cockups now and again, as we all have. But few of them have been disastrous. Being an administrator is something that flows into other aspects of one’s life. It is not just at the desk that one’s skills are applied. It is frequently the case that being tidy and well organised is a generalised aspect of life. When working on the computer, it is necessary to file things correctly, in a way that will allow them to found easily and efficiently. Setting up folders and arranging files on a computer is up to the operator. This reflects and replicates the way we arrange paperwork in our physical filing systems. My filing cabinet has files that are arranged in alphabetical order. This raises issues of how folders are named. Take for example – insurance. Is that filed under ‘I’ or is it placed in the folder for ‘C’ because it is concerned only with contents insurance. If one has a series of folders appertaining to the same subject – such as manuals – are all of them to be in the section for ‘M’ and all have names beginning with ‘M’ even if concerned with electrical equipment or the equipment in the kitchen? A knowledge of how to order items alphabetically is essential. There are rules that must be obeyed. The same applies to assigning names to individual items. The key to successful ordering is being systematic and consistent in the way that systems are operated. This requires close attention to detail. Once such skills are set into one’s mind, they can be applied to many other aspects of one’s life, such as the way I order books on my bookcase shelves or the way I arrange CDs in my case of audio recordings. Even in my wardrobe, all hangers are placed on the rack the same way round. Vests are grouped together, as are shirts and pullovers. Items of clothing are placed in drawers by type – one for underpants and another for socks – bed linen is placed in the chest of drawers according to sets. One drawer per set of duvet covers and pillowcases. In the kitchen the cutlery tray is similarly ordered – forks in one compartment, knives in another and spoons in their own compartment. All items of cutlery must be placed in the same way, all facing in the same direction. What we see here is the reduction of chaos and a commitment to order. Such an approach is conducive to efficiency. I try to live an efficient way of life as much as possible.

Living Efficiently

I like to think that I live efficiently. I do waste energy. I not squander time. My behaviour follows a set of procedural conventions designed to achieve the best possible outcome from my endeavours. My whole life, on a daily basis, is devoted to the reduction of chaos. Despite this, there are times when things go wrong and that happens when I am careless and fail to think or plan ahead. Some might argue that I spend too much time worrying about tiny, minor details and fail to get the more important things done at the right time. Be that as it may, I will think my overall approach to daily life works well. I have a great many things to think about and I am, generally speaking, in control of my mind. How long that will last is impossible to say. But I hope my command of my activities will last long enough for me to accomplish some of my goals and ambitions. The one thing I want to avoid, as far as possible, is becoming stressed about my effectiveness. Stress reduces one’s ability to command one’s actions. I think I lead a fairly stress-free life and hope to continue in that vein for as long as I can. Being stressed out about things is inefficient. It wastes energy on being anxious. Not something that affects me at present – but in the future – who knows? If I manage my life successfully, I will be able to live as efficiently as possible for as long as possible. That in itself will be an achievement.

See this related article: Trevor Locker’s Writings


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Trevor Locke