P.S. It’s not really just about tea, but bear with me a while and you’ll get the point…
I often joke about it along the lines of pretending that I really think a nice cup of tea can cure anything (have a terrible cold? have a cup of tea… a bad back? a cup of tea will help… etc etc it gets worse…) but as this is pretty much my only vice (!!) better have a system for it.
Yes I have a system for tea. Several in fact. Here it goes…
I have a favourite cup from which I drink my tea. Nothing new there. Lots of people have a favourite cup. This is the cup which, after rigorous testing of various other cups, came out on top as the one from which the tea tastes best and which has the nicest memories associated with it.
But do you have a reserve favourite cup?
My current favourite cup is in fact my ex-reserve favourite cup because my previous favourite cup was smashed to pieces by my wife (she assures me it was an accident).
My favourite cup comes from our honeymoon in Antigua (nice memories) and my new reserve cup is from Barcelona (more nice memories). The important thing though is the tea tastes better from my favourite cup than any other cup. That’s why it’s my favourite.
Two tins. A little tin (cache – fast access) and a big tin (teabag warehouse). Both on a shelf behind the kettle. Both with my favourite tea bags in them. I also sometimes have a box of tea bags in the cupboard (overflow) under the kettle depending upon recent shopping habits.
The small tin is easy to handle for quick, convenient tea. When the small tin is empty, this is a warning. I refill it from the big tin. When I look in the big tin, if it is anything like approaching empty after filling the small tin, I buy more teabags.
Result? I never run out of teabags. Obviously as you may have noticed I often even have some disaster recovery built in there with the teabags in the cupboard too – but I never run out.
Aside – you may ask why if I am such a connoisseur of tea, I am using tea bags instead of loose-leaf tea. Well, we could go there but we won’t for now in the interests of time. I have loose leaf tea too and believe me, I’ve tried just about every type of tea on the planet. I can tell you the best tea for different occasions if you really want to have the conversation. In most circumstances I always come back to English Breakfast tea (i.e. the popular blend) which I drink with milk and if you’re wondering, for a long time I’d insist on Twinings Organic but recently have reaslised that Yorkshire tea tastes just as good (and costs quite a bit less).
Normally two bottles of fresh milk in the fridge. We don’t run out of milk because it is too important for tea. I really don’t like UHT milk – my French wife doesn’t see a difference but for me the difference is HUGE. However the UHT milk does have one use – I keep a small carton of it in the shed for emergency purposes.
On the very rare occasions (I think twice ever) that we have run out of milk and the local shop has been closed, that emergency carton of UHT milk has been called upon so I can still have a cup of tea.
Result? I never run out of milk.
I even have a system for tracking how much tea I drink. I switch this system on and off depending upon how strict I am being with myself at the time and my dieting habits. This is because as I know I love tea so much, I want to be sure I don’t drink too much. That being said, it’s hardly the wildest vice on the planet so I’m not really too concerned. For a lot of the time though (when this system is ‘on’) I restrict myself to no more than 5 cups of tea per day.
This for me is a bit of a challenge but serves 2 purposes – 1: stops me drinking too much tea, 2: Means that each cup of tea I do have, I enjoy more.
Last week, disaster struck. Our lovely kettle caught fire!! Can you believe it? No, I couldn’t either. Flames were coming out of the back of it.. and no, it was not a cheap kettle either.
I love tea too much to mess around with cheap kettles. The whole experience of making a cup of tea is semi-spiritual for me so a nice kettle is essential. Anyways, the point? I threw out the old kettle and brought out the identical reserve kettle. Yes I even had a reserve kettle (OK, I’m not that sad, this one was a coincidence, when we moved here from London, we ended up with two identical kettles – but all the same, I’m now seriously considering buying a new reserve kettle and sticking it in the attic).
Result? Nothing can stop me from getting my cup of tea.
Final Thought (Systems…)
This system wasn’t contrived but is absolutely real (and I didn’t even tell you about my systems for tea on the move, teapots, where to drink tea, entertaining…;-)). Obviously I’m not really writing this to tell you about tea (even though, as you can probably tell by now, I do love tea) but about systems.
For the things you are really familiar with, you probably have effective systems too. What about the things you are not so familiar with? You are going to hear me talking more about systems (maybe next time without the tea) in the future because I believe if you want to get more out of life or business, systems are very important.
Note: There are times when it makes no sense to have a system in place (e.g. discovering new things, enjoying a unique moment, being creative…) but for regular, repeatable tasks, you can’t beat a good system (some of which you may be able to then automate for even greater efficiency).