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Sometimes I stumble across a great new idea rather than set out to find a solution to a specific problem. Either way when I get the solution in place and use it for the first time it can be a bit of a eureka moment.

With the sudden realisation that I’ve been rather painfully doing something one way when there is an easier way round comes that ‘why didn’t I think of that before?’ question, and hot on its heels ‘I’m never going back to that old way of doing things again’.

Online grocery shopping is a good example. It’s a great way to deal with a tedious, predictable set of shopping tasks. It is made even better if you bulk up so that the shop doesn’t have to be done very often – I’m working towards quarterly at the moment.

In my case part of the motivation is to allow me to go to local independent shops for things like fruit and veg without needing to pop into the supermarket every five minutes to pick up some loo rolls – or whatever. (I take my hat off to Riyad for his own comments on buying local a couple of weeks ago).

Of course not everyone has storage for three month’s worth of loo rolls and other household necessities but if you do have the space I urge you to try this method and go local yourself as much as possible. {And if you suddenly have a hankering to make 2006 a really right-on year, take a quick trip to the Ethical Consumer Website to get you off on the right foot.

Anyway, back to the point. I started online shopping because I loathe queuing at checkouts and hate wayward supermarket trolleys. If I’m honest, the shop local part just came along by accident, really – a sort of slow-burn eureka - but now it is part of my ‘shopping strategy’ which puts it in a rather grand way, but you get the point.

A few of weeks ago I had one of those chance meetings that was probably one of my best whiz-bang eureka experiences of 2005. I met with the CEO of a company called Spinvox. Spinvox’s service is simple. Someone leaves you a voicemail. SpinVox intercepts it and turns it into an SMS, delivering it to your handset. Or they can turn it into an email and send it to your desktop. Or they can do both.

I was enthused during the meeting, and said I’d take a trial which kicked in during December. In the short time between then and now the service in question has become a key one for me.

There are several reasons why this is a great idea. There is a theory that we don’t check voicemails as often as we could or should, but we do read SMS messages when they drop into our handsets. I certainly know that theory is my practice. Then there’s the way that we often have to listen to voicemails several times to extract the vital details – the phone number we are being asked to call, the gist of a garbled message, the time and date of a changed meeting. Scrabbling around for a piece of paper to write this stuff down is really irritating, but getting this info as an SMS or an email means it is there at a glance and the paper isn’t required.

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