How my delivery of groceries saved me some energy – and the value of that

E-mail sent to A&P Fresh Online regarding a grocery delivery I received yesterday:

Hi, I just received my order – delivery service was timely and polite – thank you. I am wondering why you do so many substitutions? Of my 42 items ordered, 10 of them were substituted. Most of the substitutions were fine, but in a couple cases I didn’t agree with the choices. I know I selected “allow substitutions” – if I do not allow them, does that mean I would only get 32 of my 42 items?

How can I select items that are more likely to be in your inventory? Why does your inventory match up so poorly with what you are offering online?

If I keep allowing substitutions, how can I get substitutions that are more likely to be satisfactory? Should I choose middle of the road pricing to allow the packers more flexibility?

Thank you,

Sylvie Dale

What I was trying to do was not spend a lot of my precious energy picking out, bagging, loading in the car, unloading from the car, and putting away groceries. I find this to be an exhausting and thankless task and frankly, I hate it. Some people love picking out their food. Not me – that is, not if I have to shlep it repeatedly from place to place. So when my work schedule swelled because of a major project and the house ran completely out of food, I spent half an hour on a grocery shopping site and had the groceries delivered.

Logistically this worked well, because there is almost always someone at home to take delivery. But the substitutions they selected are enough to make me re-evaluate my decision. One-quarter of the items I selected were substituted – that seems kind of high, doesn’t it? I won’t bore you with granular details, but give you just two¬†examples: for people who prefer white NY style cheddar, yellow cheddar just isn’t acceptable. Substituting a box of raisin bran for a box of bran flakes is not a great idea if I already ordered a box of raisin bran in the same order. ¬†So I am looking for a way to use the shopping site smarter, so that I have fewer surprises when the food arrives. And I may try the other service, Pea Pod, to compare how they substitute.

I read an article by the Harvard Business Review that you should manage your energy, not your time. This is a concept that makes a lot of sense. When you’re working as smart as you possibly can, it’s time to look at your energy. You may not realize it, but little dribs and drabs of your time are being stolen away due to spotty attention span or fogginess caused by being tired. If you are fresh and rested, your ideas are more brilliant, your remarks more on point, and your work is much faster.

Multitasking, hailed in the 90s as a great way to get lots done, is now being understood as a time waster for some types of job roles. I am a trainer, so part of my time is spent developing curriculum in PowerPoint and also in an e-learning format. I must also keep track of student records and training schedules. These are tasks best done without interruptions, so it’s counter-productive (and tiring) to multitask when I do them.

I was a gardener when I lived in Oklahoma. I read about how plants do what they do and why, when you pick the dead flowers off a blooming plant, you can expect it to stay in bloom longer, and how sometimes a root-bound plant will flower better than one with plenty of wiggle room in the pot. It turns out we are like plants. We only have so much energy, and it gets channeled where we allow it to go. If we cut off an energy-wasting channel, like the pointless and aggravating task of grocery shopping, it naturally flows into the other channels that are still open, such as my work.

While the grocery delivery was not perfect, it did save me a lot of effort. Maybe A&P Online will give me some good pointers on how to use their system for best results.

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