The top-10 life admin tasks Brits’ put off revealed

How much putting off these five-minute jobs really costs Brits.

Do you put off nagging jobs, such as cancelling your gym membership you never use or shopping around for a better value electricity provider? Most of us are guilty of it, (top marks if you are not!), yet how much could we save by just keeping on top of these simple tasks? 

Pensions advice specialists, Portafina, asked the nation which five-minute jobs they put off most often and why, whilst also revealing how much this can end up costing Brits in fines or unchecked automatic renewals.

The top ten ‘life admin’ tasks that Brits are putting off most often are:

Shopping around for a cheaper gas and electric providers (41%)

Shopping around for a cheaper internet provider (36%)

Shopping around for a cheaper phone contract (33%)

Budgeting for the rest of the month (27%)

Managing their savings (27%)

Checking their pensions (27%)

Managing their bank accounts (23%)

Managing subscriptions e.g. Netflix, iTunes, gym memberships (22%)

Paying bills – setting up direct debits or transferring money (20%)

Shopping around for cheaper home insurance (17%)

Although some of these tasks may be small, a surprising number of us Brits admit to avoiding them. The five most popular reasons the nation gave for evading these ‘life admin’ chores were:

They’re boring (35%)

I’d rather be doing something else (34%)

I forget that I need to do them (31%)

I’m too busy (27%)

They take up too much of my time (26%)


Income seems to affect people’s self-perceptions when it comes to accessing why they are putting off tasks. For example, people earning above £50,001 per annum list ‘too busy’ as the main reason for avoiding them. Yet, this reason comes in at fifth place for people earning less than £50,000 pa.

The research also highlighted how putting off these small errands can have financial consequences in the form of bank charges, fines or unwanted automatic renewals. A third (31%) of Brits said they have ended up with a financial penalty from putting off ‘life admin’. Just under half of these people (48%) have typically been fined £20 or less. Yet nearly 10% have admitted that it’s cost them £100 or more (8%), with some taking a £500 hit (1%).

When it comes to the psychology behind why the nation is dodging these tasks, Stephanie Varda, a life coach who specialises in stress offers her insight and top tips for combatting the issue: “It’s human nature to put off those little life admin jobs like renewing insurance or shopping around for the best energy provider. We know we’ve got to do them, but we will do a million other activities rather than get them done. In our head we build them up into these long, laborious activities that will take hours to complete when the reality is that they can be done and dusted really quickly.

“Set aside time each month, maybe an hour tops, that you are going to dedicate to sorting out your ‘life laundry’. Make a list, ticking off each one as you get it done. Taking control in this way helps you to free up that vital headspace. You’ll feel less overwhelmed, less stressed and more confident in your ability to manage whatever life throws your way. Then when you’re done with the ‘life laundry’ reward yourself by doing something you love.”

Commenting on the research, Jamie Smith-Thompson, managing director of Portafina, said: “There’s always going to be a reason we can come up with for putting off life admin tasks. Can they be boring? Would we rather be doing something else? Too right we would!

“They need sorting though. And, you only have to look at how much putting off the small tasks can cost to get an idea of the possible financial impact of always saying ‘tomorrow’ to the more significant life admin tasks, such as checking your pension. Statistics from last year’s ILC report showed that people who take advice about their pension are, on average, £27,000 better off than those who don’t¹. The simple fact is, there are specialists out there that can help with the big and little life admin tasks and it clearly pays to use them!”

For a deeper insight into how many of us avoid ‘life admin’ tasks, visit Portafina’s blog.

Call 0800 304 7288 for a friendly chat about your pension

Important Information

Research from a survey of 2,000 UK adults in March 2018

¹The Value of Financial Advice. A Research Report from ILC-UK July 2017

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