If I'm hungry, I can go into a store and leave with food. That's pretty great, and it's not something I try to take for granted. Like most people, though, I still think of grocery shopping as a chore. And I've found a simple way to make it a much more enjoyable one: Headphones.
Photo by Tim Gouw
Months ago, I was listening to a podcast episode while driving to the grocery store. Once I arrived, I wanted to keep listening, and luckily, I had a pair of headphones in my backpack. So I plugged them into my phone and my ears and went on my merry way. Since then, I've made a habit of grocery shopping with headphones. Here's why.
It makes the experience more enjoyable: You can catch up on podcasts, download an audiobook, or just listen to music you actually enjoy (as opposed to soft hits from 2002). Especially if you typically buy the same food staples week after week, grocery shopping is a pretty mindless task in consumption. You might as well make it more productive -- or at least more enjoyable.
It keeps solicitors away: From solicitors at the store entrance to solar panel salespeople inside the store, I hate having to constantly tell solicitors, "no thanks, I'm not interested," when I'm just trying to get some milk and bread. With headphones, you have a built-in excuse to keep walking. It might be kind of rude, but then so is continuing to solicit me even after I say I'm not interested.
Headphones block out store distractions: Stores are designed to get you to spend money, from the layout to the music. Headphones are a great defence against these tactics. At least in my experience, you're less focused on the goodies around you and more on what you're listening to, which breaks you out of consumer mode.
Of course, you should also be aware of your surroundings when you shop, so I try to use the same rules I do when I commute and listen to the radio. Namely, I keep the volume low enough to hear what's going on around me. Also, I take out my headphones when I check out. As someone who's been on the other side of the register, it's pretty annoying to check someone out when they're on their phone, even if they are just listening to music. When you're doing your own thing, though, I see no problem with sticking in some headphones while you shop.