About 5 years ago, we decided to streamline the repetitive nature of our weekly shopping trips. (…and by we, I have to confess I’m not the key grocery shopper in the family.) After several renditions, the list has evolved into much more than an alphabetized ordering of our most used items, here’s an example of our most recent version.
A couple of mentions about the subtle metadata within the list:
1) Red text allows for blue/black ink or pencil to be visible.
2) Organization is by department within the store, including the typical route through our neighborhood store.
3) Yellow indicates a “staple”, which is something that is needed almost every trip, whether marked or not.
Typically, we print 5-6 off at a time and update the sheet as our habits change. At first we tried to do this with an online version but found there was no substitute for the quick checkoff via pen/pencil. Keeping this in Google Docs allows for editing to be done anywhere, but for those preferring a retro approach, Excel will work fine.
There’s nothing like a dose of humility to remind us all that even the best plan can wind up a disaster if we aren’t careful. Take my own personal example of a 5K race I recently “ran”. This is a very hilly 5K race I’ve run in the past, but to make a short story even shorter, the picture below tells the tale. The green line represents the actual race course, and the red line represents the scenic tour that I decided to add to the race this year.
Besides more than tripling my normal time with a 60 minute 5K record, I learned a few things along the way. First, taking frequent checkpoints of where you are cannot be underestimated. If you are an Agile purist, this means short iterations – two weeks preferred. Second, just because you’ve been there before doesn’t mean this time will be the same. To emphasize this point, I like the quote ‘if you feel comfortable, you should be uncomfortable’ (author unknown), and my discomfort was only compounded when I had to stop and ask a local resident for directions on how to get back to the finish (twice). And last, the hare doesn’t stand a chance against a tortoise that knows about the first two lessons.