How to Manage Your Shopping List

Learn how to manage your shopping list when you don’t know what you need.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #101

Use the Paper List as Your Grocery List

When you find you need something, draw a slash through bullet next to the item you need. If the thing you need isn’t on the list, add it, draw in a little bullet, and put a slash through it. Tell everyone else to do it, too.

This is now your shopping list. Take it with you when you head off to the store. Buy the items with slashes through them. Let’s say you’re walking down an aisle and see a canister of Zombie Reanimation Powder. Oh? Did I say Zombie Reanimation powder? I meant phyllo pastry sheets. For baking. strudel. Like they have in Austria. When you see the phyllo sheets, if they appear on your list with a single slash, you know you need them. Toss them in your cart and do another slash so you have an X next to phyllo on your list.

If you need the dough but there’s no slash on your list, grab a package and “X out” the bullet. Then when you get home, find whoever used the last package and make their life a living hell for not having marked it off on the sheet. Life is too short not to torture your loved ones into making your life more convenient. Finally, if you need it, but it’s not even on your list, write it in by hand.

Make Your List Learn

Remember how I said this list will learn? When you get home type in all the handwritten items you had to buy that weren’t on the list to start with. Then print out the new, fresh list, and put it on your bulletin board. The whole process starts again.

The key to making this work is that your list gradually becomes a list of pretty much everything you ever might need. Then it becomes everyone’s responsibility to notice when you actually do need something. If one of your loved ones hassles you for forgetting an item, you can thrust the responsibility right back at them. Smile sweetly and say, “You didn’t add it to the list.” Then make them go out and get it, immediately. Soon, people will learn it’s much easier to keep the bulletin board list up-to-date than to be running out for Reanimation Powder every time … I mean, phyllo dough every time you need to make a strudel.

For extra credit, you can group items on your list by their supermarket aisle. If you’re as pathetic as me, you can even put the aisles in the same order on your sheet as they are in the store. So when you head out to shop, you just zip through the items grabbing what you need.

And that, my friend, makes shopping a joy. Well, not a joy. But less of a soul-rending agony of remembering your list, and navigating your cart, and time, and space, and multidimensional teleportation. Good luck. And pick up a package of strudel for me next time you’re at the store...

Oh, and be sure to check out my tip on keeping your food organized.

This is Stever Robbins. See this episode’s transcript with a link to the flashmob dance number at http://getitdone.quickanddirtytips.com

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EYAUazLI9k  Antwerp train station flashmob “Do Re Mi” dance video

Unpacking Groceries image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.