If you´re like me you probably have no love for grocery shopping. I love going to the store and wandering around carefully picking out ingredients for whatever meal I plan to create that night, but I absolutely and completely detest shopping for the supplies and necessities that will get the household through a couple of weeks. Despite being an annoying task, though, it is unfortunately a necessary one. It can also be a task that can sap your productivity and take more time than it needs to if you are not properly prepared for it. Like so much of what we do, you can boost your productivity noticeably just by getting more efficient at doing the tasks that we always do. Personal productivity isn´t all about cell phones and e-mail.
When it comes to grocery shopping, the time gets wasted when we aren´t organized and when we don´t know what we need. Think about it — most of you have probably found at times that you can be much more productive when you have written down what you need to do. In the same way, having a good list of what you need to buy will make it more efficient when you are shopping. If you have the discipline to stick to your list you can save yourself a ton of money, too.
Here´s the thing, though — writing a list can take a lot of time. Lots of you probably use that as an excuse for not doing it. If you were to look at your shopping purchases over several months, though, you would find that you have bought pretty much the same thing every time you go shopping. At the very least, there are a large number of items that make up the bulk of your purchases. You may buy some of them every trip and others every third trip, but you buy all of them regularly. If you make a new shopping list every time you go, then, you are just making the same basic list over and over again. Anyone committed to productivity knows that doing the same thing again and again when you don´t need to is the enemy of productivity.
That´s why I like of a master grocery list so much. Here´s how it works. Sit down with an Excel spreadsheet (or a word processor, but a spreadsheet makes it easier to organize and change around) and write down a list of everything that you can think of that you may buy when you go grocery shopping. Don´t just put generalities — canned vegetables. Be specific — canned creamed corn, canned peas, etc. When you go shopping you can just print off the list, grab a highlighter and spend a couple of minutes highlighting the items on the list that you need to buy. You can do it in the kitchen, or you can even do it on the bus or while you are waiting for a meeting to start. You can write in any items you need that aren´t on the list (but be sure to add them to the list so that they are there next time). By investing the time now to make a list you are saving yourself all sorts of time down the road. And you are cutting your chances of forgetting to buy that thing you really need.