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Workflow: A paperless Shopping List

This morning, thinking about the next steps on my paperless journey I was distracted as I realised I needed to get new milk – and bread – and actually should go for a general resupply at the supermarket anyway. That distraction led me to an idea.

Paperless can start with the very little things: What if your shopping list went digital? Reminding you based on time or based on places you come by? Shared with your partner? Synced?

When the Reminders App on the iPhone was updated with a sharing feature my wife and I got rid of our paper based shopping lists. No regrets.


  1. Set up a shopping list in Reminders on your Mac
  2. To the right of the lists name you’ll see a sharing symbol – klick it
  3. Enter the e-mail address of your significant other. He or she will be able to see the list and its entries, add, delete, change and check off items.
  4. The person will receive an e-mail notification that you’re sharing your list with her


  1. If you don’t want to burry your downtown errands under entries for milk, bread and vegetables, just set up multiple lists. I prefer using: Downtown, Neighbourhood, Supermarket, DIY market, Online. The rationale behind this choice being the place where you can actually get the stuff you need. I chose not to do separate lists for every single shop and instead aggregated lists that would contain several shops that are located in the same area – say – in walking distance (we still do that in Europe ;-) )
  2. Then there is geo-fencing. If your spouse happens to work downtown and you want to remind her to fetch some of the ingredients for the delicious meal that you’re planning to cook that night, you can either send her a message (and she’ll forget as sure as I would) – or you can add an extra entry to the relevant list like “Please remember the italian pasta shop, dear” and customise it with a geo-fence around her work address. That way she gets the reminder just when she actually leaves the place – and it’ll take her right to the relevant list, too. Nice.


  1. I’d love to be able to use Siri to add new items to my lists. But you can! I hear you sigh. Kind of – but they will always show up in the list that was last opened. So far I have not figured out a way to tell Siri which list to add the item to. Not viable yet for a good workflow.
  2. Why not use an app like Things or Omnifocus? A) Because it does not allow me to share lists. I could only forward one entry at a time to my wife. B) I don’t want to clutter my Omnifocus which holds all of my work-related and private projects and areas of responsibility.

So – a very small, yet surprisingly handy trick to avoid paper and get far more use out of a digital solution. Speaking of shopping lists – I must tell you about that other thing we do with Evernote!

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Greg Lucas #

    You can tell Siri to add items to a specific list – I’ve been using it this way. For example I have a list called “Grocery” and can tell Siri “Add milk to my grocery list”.

    30. November 2012
    • Hmmm – thanks – seems like this is only possible in Siri’s English version so far. Well, looking forward to getting the feature some time then in Germany, too.

      Another thing that (currently) breaks this for me is that when I add an errand to my shopping list via Siri, she keeps asking me “when” I’d like to be reminded. I don’t necessarily need that for each and every entry. Especially as she speaks so slowly and finally wants a confirmation for every entry, too. It just takes too long.

      But, hey, I’m sure Apple will learn and enhance Siri. After all, they are using their robots, too ;-)

      1. December 2012

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