My love of lists is almost legendary, my daily activities driven from them. I have different lists for different parts of my day:
- Things needing to be done at work, written on my office white board
- Personal life todo list written in a notebook on the kitchen counter
- Blogging todo list written in a notebook on my computer desk
My lists help me not only remember things that need to be done, but also to prioritize them. My wife sometimes makes fun of me because of my lists, but she understands the importance I place on them. I commonly find things added to my list on the kitchen counter written in her handwriting. She knows that if it’s on the list, it will get done.
I also make a detailed list before I go grocery shopping. Another list that my wife gives me grief about at times. I tell her that it saves me time and money, but I think she had a hard time believing me, until yesterday.
Let me tell you a tale of two shopping trips.
Shopping Without A List:
I dropped Vonnie off at Sam’s Club. She had signed up for her turn at supplying treats for the employee break room at her job for the week and wanted to pick up some snacks. She had a plan loosely formulated in her head, but no hardened list.
Shopping With A List:
I went to the Walmart next door to do grocery shopping for our family for the upcoming week. I had a detailed list, and flew through the store picking up everything on that list. Once I had everything in the cart, I headed to the self-checkout aisle.
As my receipt was printing, I called Vonnie and let her know I was done. I met her in the parking lot, and we loaded our groceries into the van.
Shopping Without A List Results:
I had a cart heaping with groceries and household items for a bill that rang up to just over $130. I got exactly what was on the list, have a purpose for every item that I purchased, and actually came in under budget for groceries for the week.
Shopping With A List Results:
She handed me a receipt totaling just under $60 for six bulk snack items plus a shirt that had caught her eye. She didn’t have a solid plan as to what she was getting, and because of that she may have to go back again and get more things. She also ended up getting an item that was completely unrelated to why she went into the store to begin with.
My list gave me two major advantages:
- No Wasted Time Browsing: I knew exactly what I was going to get, and I’ve been in Walmart enough times to know exactly where the items are located. It was simply a matter of execution, and not allowing myself to get distracted by other things on display. My wife, on the other hand, was simply looking around for things that looked good. Her sensors were on high alert looking for anything that appealed to her, including a shirt which had nothing to do with her mission.
- Pre-determined Spending: Since I knew exactly what I was getting, I already knew how much I was going to spend. I was not surprised at how many items I got for the money I spent. My wife on the other hand, was surprised and disappointed that she spent $60 on only a handful of items.
“I didn’t think I was in the store that long. How in the world did you get done grocery shopping so quickly?” she asked me as we drive home.
The answer was simple. It’s the power of the list.