Here’s a problem with being a married couple that does everything together: you start to think the same way about everything too.
If Rob had said to me last year, “We really need to come up with standard operating procedures for our day-to-day life, like getting the groceries and doing the laundry,” I’d have had enough of my own – romantically inclined – mind to say, “Like f**k we need SOPs for daily life. What sort of marriage is this?”
But this year, things are different. Due to constant travel, it’s hard to keep track of things. And due to constant encouragement from Dan Andrews at the Lifestyle Business Podcast, it’s hard to imagine a life without SOPs.
So I was the one to suggest some “everyday life” SOPs, and Rob wholeheartedly agreed.
How we reached this absurd stage in our lives
It all started when we got home from Thailand and realised we’d forgotten to ask someone to take our car for an MOT. And because our MOT, tax disc and insurance are all up for renewal at around the same time every year, it’s always – even when we’re not jetlagged or nostalgic about warm weather – a frantic memory-scanning arrrghness to work out the order in which we’re meant to do everything.
Thoughts about our ineffecient, disorganised life spiralled from there:
- “We always forget to ask our Airbnb host to provide two sets of keys.”
- “When we book our flights, why don’t we ever flipping remember we’ll need our passport numbers on us?”
- “Why is it that you ALWAYS log your phone into the hotel wifi when you KNOW there’s a chance we’re only allowed two wifi-connected devices?”
- “Let’s face it: we were bloody lucky when we got to Malaysia and realised they had the same plug points as us.”
So… my job for this week was to create the SOPs that will turn us from efficient, productive workers into a robotic, automated married couple. And because I’m running out of time to write a blog post, write the SOPs and co-run Mortified Cow, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and hope to god you find these useful (or at least entertaining in an “embarrassed for us” sort of way):
An SOP for getting settled into a new apartment in a new city as quickly as possible
- Mish: create a jogging route using Gmap Pedometer and Osmand (useful for offline navigation), in preparation for the first morning’s “get my bearings” jog.
- Use Google Maps to find the nearest grocery store, coffee place, nicest-looking restaurant, train station and bus stop. Store in a new “My places” Google Map.
- Change the “Home” address in Google Maps.
- Use Wikitravel to work out how the heck to get around the city (and how to get from the airport to our accommodation).
- Use Wikitravel and other travel websites to figure out where to wander around on Day 1.
- Find out the exchange rate and an easy way to remember it (so that when the lovely Thai woman says “20 baht” to you for a massive banana pancake, you don’t say “40 quid? You must be having a laugh”).
- Get the right travel adapters.
- Learn some key phrases in their language. (Hello, thank you, numbers up to 10, chicken, spicy, toilet, water, internet.)
- Check the wifi works. Check at least twice before doing anything else.
- Lie on the bed and figure out what sleep will be like for the next day/week/month.
- Take photos for our album.
- Unpack and charge up everything that’s low on batteries.
- Find out where the fuse box is.
- Walk to the nearest grocery store and stock up. (Need to write a separate SOP for what to stock up on.)
- Walk around.
An SOP for getting the car sorted every year
Do everything before 1 March each year (add reminder to calendar).
- Go to Money Supermarket to compare prices. Don’t bother with the other comparison sites – this one’s fine.
- Information to include about number of years driving, no-claims bonuses, etc. are in the Cubby.
- Choose “comprehensive” insurance.
- Choose voluntary excess to be around £250.
- Pay, and email the new insurance provider proof of our no-claims bonus.
- Store all PDF docs in the Cubby.
- Find the Halfords or Kwik-Fit centre that’s nearest our new London accommodation. Don’t bother with independent MOT places because you won’t be able to book online.
- Book online. Price should be about £50. Don’t bother with any of the “extras”.
- Use Google Maps to find a cafe nearby in which to wait while the MOTs being done. If possible, see if they have wifi.
- You could go online, but it’s just too much of a faff.
- Print out the car insurance document.
- Take the log book, car insurance document and MOT test certificate to the post office and ask for a 12-month tax disc.
An SOP for questions to ask our new Airbnb host/places where we stay
- Do you provide us with the wifi password when we get there?
- Is it OK to have two sets of keys?
- Is it possible to receive post? (Definitely ask this for NYC apartments, where post is often stored downstairs in locked cubbies for each tenant.)
- How many devices can log on to the wifi with this username and password? (Hotels only.)
An SOP for online supermarket shopping (while in the UK)
- Change the delivery address from wherever we were last time.
- Every Monday (add reminder to Google Calendar), log in to Sainsbury’s (login details: xxxxx).
- Start a new order and add at least £25’s worth of groceries into the shopping basket (that’s the minimum order).
- Book the delivery slot for Wednesday, 6-7pm.
- Add more stuff between Monday and Tuesday night (until 11pm).
Not really an SOP: a list of things we either forget or worry we’ll forget to pack when moving around
- Travel adapters
- Phone chargers
- Kindle charger
- Toenail clippers
- Ear warmers