Moving to the first world has given me an arch nemesis – supermarkets. I always spend longer than I wish to in these labyrinths, which are mandatory in these parts of the world if starving to death isn’t for you. The supermarket paradox is how the supermarket stocks every single thing – like quinoa-kale bread, fermented fenugreek and goat cheese ice cream – except that one item you want.
In my battle against supermarkets, I have tried several strategies – preparing shopping lists, sticking to familiar stores, timing my visits and willing myself to get exactly the 5 items I need and storm out. But to no avail. Once I am inside a supermarket, with its ten brands of kidney beans, hundred brands of chocolate and thousand brands of alpine salt, I turn into a zombie who has had a few drinks too many.
Thanks to some recent reflection, I realized how I wasted most of my time in moving to and fro between sections. Let’s say my shopping list had the following items:
- Salad mix
- Assorted nuts
I would pick up capsicum and onion at the veggies section and go to the next items on my list – say Nutella, mozerella and so on – but then realize that I would have to return to the veggies section to pick up carrots and avocado. The alternative, I figured after two years of struggle, is to order the shopping list by section on my phone before I step into the supermarket. That way, I would avoid jumping back and forth through this maze.
I know! It took me too long to figure this out. But it’s curious how one minute of reflection and planning served me better than all the times I grit my teeth and tried to power through.
Whenever execution seems harder than it ought to be, there is usually a simple plan that could make things a lot easier.