In a day, I usually have a few small tasks that are necessary to do and somewhat consequential but easy and short to accomplish and are kind of a distraction from the main work I hope to accomplish over the course of a day. I'm sure I'm not the only one with such tasks.

Examples are: checking and replying to emails, planning and scheduling activities, delivering items to colleagues, briefly following up on previous requests, etc.

What's a word to describe such tasks? If it matters, I'm looking for a word that describes putting all such tasks together in my schedule so I can do them back-to-back at the same time, a time which I have isolated from my main, more important work.

Edit: these tasks aren't always routine. "Errands" would be an accurate term to describe some of them, but not all. There are some routine tasks and other non-routine errands. And the tasks are not all unimportant. I'd say most of them are important or semi-important, it's just that it's a simple matter to accomplish them.

Second Edit: A lot of the suggestions I've received seem to focus on the tasks being boring or dull. These tasks are not necessarily boring or dull, in fact many of them are fun or interesting. The main feature of these tasks is that they are small, easy tasks that get in my way of accomplishing the big things I actually hope to accomplish in a given day. They are not necessarily related to the big things I hope to accomplish.

The closest words that I have come up with or have been suggested so far are: menial, trivial, and errand. What is a menial, trivial, non-routine, errand-like task that doesn't necessarily involve going out (as the word "errand" implies, at least for me)?

  • 6
    I like the word administrivia, though it's a bit too precious for use in many contexts.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 15:23
  • 1
    @timthebomb "busywork" is usually work given to you by someone else specifically to keep you busy - i don't think it applies here. Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 15:27
  • 4
    Maybe minutia
    – DyingIsFun
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 15:36
  • 3
    @Silenus that's a good one, but it's spelled minutiae Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 15:51
  • 1
    @DanBron A 'sod' may refer to a person - but not in the expression "odds & sods". We (British) also use "odds & ends" - but they probably have slightly different connotations - which I won't try to elaborate on!
    – TrevorD
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 19:12

7 Answers 7



1. A routine task, especially a household one
"her illness made even daily chores like shopping difficult"

1.1. A tedious but necessary task
"he sees interviews as a chore"
"For me, it's so much more of a chore or a necessity than a pleasure."
"This seems strange to some, but why should we not make something fun out of a necessary chore?"

  • 1
    But, if you're unlucky, these definitions apply to your "main work" also; there's nothing in chore that implies small and easy. Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 18:04

Since you've clarified they are not always routine/scheduled, you may be interested in mundane

Dull or ordinary

or menial work

Of or relating to a job or work regarded as servile


A couple words that come to mind:


adj: Of little value or importance

And, somewhat related, minutia (also minutiae)

noun: The small, precise, or trivial details of something:

I have always been fond of administrivia, as Dan Bron mentioned in his comment, but I'm not sure if it's a generally accepted word (despite appearing in the ODO). It definitely has a disparaging connotation.


A possible answer is 'grunt work':

work that is repetitious, often physically exhausting, and boring.

Note that "physically exhausting" doesn't have to imply that the work itself requires extraordinary physical effort, only that one is exhausted afterward, which can easily happen with work that doesn't inspire the worker.


Try hackwork.


dull, routine work


You could describe the minutia of your work as a bit of a euphemism.

You could also describe these tasks as tedious or the tedium of your work.


How about 'humdrum'? Example:

I need something lively and kicking to take me out of this humdrum!

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