On Sunday, I decided to take another shot at improving my time management skills. For as long as I can remember, time management has never been my strength. Always drawn to activities I find exciting, sometimes my responsibilities suffered. I’ve been through a number of programs and read a number of books designed to improve my time management skills, and at times applied some new techniques to my life, even if they were common-sense changes. The implementations were somewhat successful for a few days, but I found it easy to fall into old habits.
Nevertheless, I made it work. I’ve been for the most part successful in the jobs I’ve had, and I was able to do this without sacrificing too much of my extravocational activities. Everything came together, though, when I was able to turn one of my biggest and most exciting hobbies into a business. I became a small business owner, or a start-up founder, or the word I hate, entrepreneur. Business experts often say successful entrepreneurs need to manage their time wisely. I never got to the point where I felt I was making the best use of most of my waking hours, yet I would consider the business a success.
For the last year, I’ve been moving into a different phase with the business, one in which my responsibilities are changing and I’m looking for new growth opportunities outside of the business. I also want to make an effort to spend more time on unrelated activities, like newer passions.
I’ve created a daily schedule that prescribes how I focus my time throughout the day, every day. I’ve never been a fan of structure, so I allow myself some flexibility, but having time set aside each day for certain tasks, both business-related and personal, keeps me focused. The flexibility works for me. By having a daily schedule, I can be confident about not taking time to read and respond to email in the morning when I should be focusing on reading and writing, for example.
I can also set aside time for personal activities I want to encourage myself to do, like getting into shape and increasing my photography skills. This will become more important if and when I add layers of different business responsibilities above what I’ve been doing for the past year.
In a few weeks, I’ll revisit the schedule and my progress with the new time organization to see if I’ve been able to maintain the change and whether I can see the manifestation of benefits.
With this rescheduling, I decided it was worthwhile to outsource more of the tasks I don’t like doing. I probably should have done this more over the past few years, but I held back. I have already hired a cleaning service to visit every other week to handle the deep housecleaning I’m not interested in handling. I missed the opportunity to hire an assistant — virtual or otherwise — when the business’s cash flow allowed me to do so, but I may return to that in the future. The change I made this week was to explore ordering my groceries.
For no extra money assuming I am able to continue to use coupons, I can order my groceries online and have them shipped via the Peapod service. I’ve avoided this for years. After all, the grocery store is in walking distance from where I live. Given the fact I live alone, my needs for groceries are not many. I’m looking to eat healthier, though, and my expenses might shift further away from eating out and more towards meals at home. Grocery delivery is significantly more convenient simply because I don’t need to take time away from working or more enjoyable activities to wander around a grocery store. So even if I need to pay a $7 delivery fee, I find the convenience worthwhile.
My experience ordering groceries online
Because I shop with a grocery store loyalty card, ordering my groceries online was very easy. The website, Peapod, displayed my Stop & Shop purchases automatically, and I could choose from my previous purchases and browse the virtual aisles, adding more groceries to my virtual shopping cart. Using printed coupons is the only drawback, you simply need to present the coupons when the delivery arrives for credit. Delivery was surprisingly flexible; I was able to choose a window of time the morning after I placed the order, and I was able to change or add to my order for several hours after I first finalized it.
Delivery was on time, though I wouldn’t consider the driver to be that friendly. He brought in the bags of groceries and placed them in the kitchen for me. I had already added his tip when I placed the order, so there was nothing left to do but accept the receipt or invoice and allow him to rush out the door to his next delivery.
The only drawback I’ve discovered so far is that the deli meats seem to only be available in larger portions than I need. My challenge will be to consume these before they go bad, but after this first attempt I can change my deli meat strategy for the next delivery. As far as items I prefer to hand-pick in the store, there is a concern that what I receive through delivery might not be as good or as fresh. I did notice that the sell-by date on the milk had passed, but milk is good beyond the sell-by date. I sent an email to Peapod about the issue. All other items seemed just as good as what I might have selected for myself in the store.
If you live in a city like New York, grocery shopping can be more than just inconvenient, and delivery services have been standard for a while. Living in a location like mine, it’s a little more unexpected. I’ve avoided grocery delivery because I didn’t want to feel lazy; after all, I can almost see the grocery store from my apartment. Also, I shop only for myself, so my visits to the store are infrequent. Yet, I still manage to fill five or six large bags and need extra trips from the car to carry larger items. After one delivery, though, I don’t see myself going back to traditional grocery shopping, particularly if I can keep eliminating the delivery fee.
Have you ever used a grocery delivery service? Is a service like this worthwhile for you?
Published or updated September 26, 2012.