Grocery Store Mindfulness: How to Remember the Grocery Bags (And Other Things)


by Helene Segura, MA, Ed, CPO®

One of the themes of this issue is MINDFULNESS. According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of “mindful” is awareness of something that may be important. Synonyms of mindful include aware, cognizant, conscious, sensible.

This information reminded me of a question that a business associate once posted on my LivingOrderSA Facebook page: Your organizational expertise is needed. How do I remember to take my reusable grocery bags to the store? arghhhh! I always forget because it’s such a miniscule task on my long to-do list. It’s driving me nuts already!!

So I responded with a few quick tips:

As soon as you’re done unloading the groceries, put your bags back into the car. If you use a grocery list, add (in highlight/ color/boldface) BRING IN BAGS to that list.

She wrote back with a little more detail about her challenge: I’ve done both… and forget at the LAST second to grab them from the car. It’s the darnedest thing. Maybe I’m at the string-on-the-finger-stage! Or perhaps the shock-therapy-stage? Ughh.

It’s a seemingly easy thing to remember, right? Just bring in the bags. But the issue isn’t forgetting the bags. That’s a symptom of something else that’s going on. The issue most likely goes back to the brain being in a fog from the endless to-do list. The brain is not conscious of what’s happening at that moment.

This is quite typical of most people today, especially women. Women feel the societal pressure of having a successful professional life as well as the perfect home life with everything under control. The easiest fix for this is to hire someone to do everything. Unfortunately, that’s not a realistic option for most folks. So, what can be done?

In a word, mindfulness. It’s very important to focus on the present, on being intentional with everything we do. When we rush around from here to there, our minds get jumbled up with more thoughts of other things we’re supposed to do, which takes away our concentration on the present.

This might sound counter-intuitive, but we need to take our time in order to save time. Once again, for emphasis: Take time to save time. That means prepping beforehand, reviewing right before the task, being intentional during the task, and reflecting on the process afterwards. Sounds crazy, right? Especially if we’re just talking about a trip to the grocery store. But it needs to happen. Here’s how, using the grocery bag example:

Prep beforehand: Prepare the grocery list and make sure the bags are in the car, placing them in a visible position such as the passenger seat. Do you need any other supplies or information to make the task successful? Coupons? Pen? Phone? List?

Review before the task: Before you open your car door, start your mental checklist. What am I about to do? Do I have all of my supplies in hand? If you have to, do this out loud. Sing it, if it helps! This is being intentional. If your kids are in the car, turn it into a game.

Be intentional during the task: Focus on what’s at hand so you’ll get out of there faster without having to constantly criss-cross back and forth throughout the store. If your kids were in the car for the previous step, they can help you find what you need and drop it in the basket.

Reflect afterwards: Celebrate what went well! Then reflect… Was there a better way to do things? How can I best make that change? If I forgot something, what is the best way to trigger me to remember it?

Follow these steps for all your “to-dos.” You’ll greatly improve your effectiveness in completing your tasks. Be present. Be aware. Be cognizant. Be mindful.

HeleneAuthor, speaker and productivity expert Helene Segura, MA Ed, CPO®, is the owner of LivingOrder® San Antonio. A Certified Professional Organizer®, she helps stressed out folks regain control of their chaotic living and working spaces. For more information visit or call 210-892-4990

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