Operating systems matter!

I just updated my iPhone to iOS 11, which made my phone a little snappier and changed a few minor features. It also got me thinking: where do we start when we’re building our User Manual, the operating system for others to manage us?

In other words–what’s the OS for you?

Over the past few months, I’ve explored several buckets of actions to include in our User Manual. As I’ve read up and talked to experts working in everything from romantic relationships to management strategy, it became clear to me that we must start our User Manual with the basics: how we like to be managed overall.

We need general operating instructions–the stuff so basic that sometimes we forget about it until it goes wrong.

I’ll chunk that out into a few initial sections:

Communications. How do you like your partner to communicate with you? In writing? In person? Calls? Only in specified time-windows? Nonstop? Differently on the weekends v. at work?

Your quirks. What’s weird about you that your partner should be aware of? Do you have a weird shoe fetish? Can’t stop yourself from cracking your knuckles? Last minute planner? What are people often surprised or concerned by–and shouldn’t be?

Pet peeves. For me, it’s cyclists on the sidewalk and improperly labeled documents and somebody texting me asking me to call them (JUST CALL!). We all have things that instantly annoy us–but only you can ply the depths and write them specifics for your partner to sidestep.

Secret tips. What are the hard-to-figure-out-on-their-own actions or moments that your partner can create to make a massive difference in your life and show how much they care? A few I’ve figured out with former partners after years of trial and error: adding barbecue sauce to frozen pizza, getting a beer on the way home from work, sunsets filtered through forest, proposing that we leave an event early (because even if my partner wants to, she’d never give up without a nudge). I would have loved to have had a cheat sheet to this, rather than a years-long slog of trial and error.

All these tips can save your partner years of guesswork and mindreading to help manage you better as a general rule. Taking on this section does require a large volume of self-awareness and exploration, all of which the User Manual is here to help with.

I’m still baking out this section of general operating instructions for ourselves–the uOS if you will.–and welcome ideas and feedback on categories and ideas. Thanks!