We live in uncertain times—as submissives and as people—our lives are changing every day. Uncertainty is not automatically a problem in itself. However, many of us have become accustomed to a certain amount of structure and control in our lives, making it challenging to make an abrupt, constant change.
This makes sense. After all, we are often drawn to submissive lifestyles because something in us resonates with the desire to live disciplined lives somewhere within our Dominants' intentions. We thrive when we have rules to retain, expectations to exceed, and schedules stipulated.
But the unpredictability of the current social, economic, and global climate tends to throw a monkey wrench into any notion of control, structure, and—ultimately—certainty. Aspects of our lives we may have taken for granted once have become somewhat unknowable. Thus, our lives' contingent nature leaves us vulnerable then—not only to necessary alterations of regulation and etiquette or the fluctuations of the stock market but also to emotional lability.
Indeed, the mercurial state of current affairs can wreak havoc on our mental health and emotional wellbeing, if we let it. As a result, some of us might find it hard to keep our emotions in check—let alone hold a schedule.
The dilemma here is that sometimes a routine is precisely what we need to keep our ducks in a row—mentally, emotionally, and otherwise. However, the problem a schedule presents in today's world is that knowing the precise hour and minute an event will take place is difficult. Stores are sometimes closed, shipments and services are often late, and people (understandably) become less reliable and harder to reach. But that doesn't mean we have to chuck our best-laid plans by the wayside and succumb hysterically to chaos!
We can still have a routine without having a schedule set in stone—a lesson that took me all too long to catch on. Suppose you're grasping at straws to find a routine that works for you. Submissive Guide has valuable resources on the topic, including " How to Create a Morning Ritual to Streamline Your Routine" and " How I'm Using 'The Miracle Morning' to Rekindle My Happiness in Submission." These writings largely inspired the routine I'm hoping to offer.
Minimizing Roadblocks from Morning Routines
The difficulty with morning routines is that no matter how well I'd start the day if I happened to fall off track, the whole rest of my day was liable to go down the tubes. It could be anything from getting funneled into the internet's rabbit hole to getting derailed by an unexpectedly involved or lengthy errand. Goodbye productivity!
My attention span is somewhat of a wayward bowling ball. If I'm going to stay on task, I need those little bumpers to rebound me back onto the correct trajectory. I knew if I ever hoped to reach my "efficiency potential," I would need some routine to track my progress and remind me of how much further I had to go to keep my day together. I wanted a real-time progress bar, a visual cue which both encouraged me and kept me focused. Sound relatable?
Admittedly, when I tried thinking up such a routine, my attention span left its lane once again! I got pretty distracted that particular morning. Absentmindedly, I started reminiscing about an old internship I had done.
I used to intern at this office in the city where the entire staff had a "morning briefing" to alert us of current affairs, which affected our work. It also served to remind us of our obligations for the day. In hindsight, it sounds very micromanaged (and probably it was), but— no shock here—I had fond memories of that management method being beneficial.
I always felt primed for success when I worked there. Perhaps, part of it was that I had to wear a skirt suit and heels every day. But, mostly, I think it had to do with the culture of preparedness instilled there.
Inspired by my trip down memory lane, I suggested something similar to my Master. He decided to instate "Morning and Nighttime Briefings" on a trial basis. He conceded that efficiency would be gained by allocating time towards such meetings because remaining on-task would prevent significant diversions.
Getting Down to Business
For a seamless application of this method to our lives, he resolved to draw up a plan. Essentially, every night, we would sit down together for five minutes and compile a list of everything we wanted to accomplish the following day. In this time, we would also review the calendar to take note of anything scheduled for (or due during) the next seven days.
He would then dictate the tasks to be done the following day, naming them in the order he preferred them to be completed. For any time-specific tasks, he would identify the time that activity was to take place. All other tasks would be listed in their relative order. While he was speaking, I'd write it all out neatly on an index card (under a header of tomorrow's day of the week and date).
More accurately, we cut the index cards into thirds to not waste paper because we found most tasks can be summed up in a word or two. Thus, our list gets bulleted on a 1" x 2" slip of lined cardstock, but you can use whatever suits your needs, so long as you physically write the list out.
If you're looking to incorporate this method, let's pretend it's the evening of Tuesday, September 15th, and you're writing tomorrow's list. Your sample list will look something like this:
- Prep Dinner
This is a shortlist. It is, after all, for the sake of example. However, it is just long enough to include all the most common types of tasks.
Let's break down those types: (1) self-maintenance tasks: what you do to maintain your wellbeing, (2) extraneous obligatory tasks: any schooling, job, or responsibilities outside the dynamic—those relatively non-negotiable aspects of life which support but don't comprise the dynamic, (3) chores/household tasks: tasks which honor and maintain the living situation, and (4) development tasks: activities which support multifaceted growth and development (these may also include the honing of skills and hobbies).
In this example, "Workout" is a self-maintenance task. "Work" is an_ extraneous obligatory task_. "Laundry" and "Prep Dinner" fall under chores and household tasks. Finally, "Reading" is a development task.
Rituals, devotional behaviors, and interpersonal time were not included in the example. These were excluded, not necessarily because they don't belong on the list (you can have them if you prefer), but because they vary widely based on the dynamic. I'd rather you mentally fill one in that makes sense to your dynamic, rather than add one in myself that you might not relate to at all. Additionally, rituals, devotions, and private interpersonal time don't seem to fit entirely under the heading of " tasks," depending on how you look at them. Thus, their preliminary inclusion seemed inappropriate. However, there is an adequate discussion of prioritizing these dynamic aspects in the related article, "Building Better Briefing Lists."
Also note that for brevity, some practical items like "shower," "lunch," and "walk the dog" were also omitted. If you need to write them into your list for memory or specificity, though, that's fine, too. Sometimes I include "lunch" on the list, so I don't accidentally work through it. Or I'll have "shower" down after a workout, so I remember to account for the time spent showering between the workout and other tasks, as an effort to improve my punctuality.
These additions—though not included in the example—can undoubtedly be used. I'd encourage you to consider and have them individually, as you find them necessary. Over time, you will develop discernment for what works best for you, and you can continue to use what you find most helpful.
The point is, these lists can be highly personalized depending on you and your Dominant (if you have one). So, make a list of your own. Make it suited to your own (or your mutual) particular lifestyle.
In our dynamic, we call this list-writing ritual "Nighttime Briefing" because it takes place before bed and mentally prepares us for what the next day looks like for each of us. By knowing what we have to do the next day, we know how early we need to wake up, how much sleep we need to function, and therefore, we can determine an appropriate time to go to bed. In this way, very little is left to chance. Success is planned, not gambled.
One of the unexpected advantages of this ritual was that after a week or so, I could follow the process for myself. I've never been great at time management. Still, this process taught me how to prioritize tasks and allocate appropriate amounts of time to them. Ordinarily, my Master still prefers to dictate the lists. However, I feel the experience has empowered me towards an improved organization.
During the nighttime briefing, we establish goals, plan our day around meeting those goals and draft a loose schedule detailing the order to attain those goals. We go to bed, wake up, and then sometime early in our day (you can try before breakfast, or during your morning tea or coffee—whatever works). We revisit that card we made for the morning briefing.
We read through the list during the morning briefing, reiterating and reminding ourselves of our day's direction and committing to rise to the challenges in the hours ahead. It is during this time we also make any necessary alterations to our list.
For instance, if we wake up and an appointment or booking is canceled, that comes off the list. If there's a notice that a delivery is delayed, the reception time marked down gets adjusted. If there is an unexpected need (a storm blew a mess of branches down in the yard, a hem got torn, etc.), that task gets added.
Morning briefing is a time of correction, concentration, and clarification. All changes are made as needed. Awareness is directed at the big picture of the day (Is there a lot to be done? Is it an easy day? What areas of the day will demand more time and attention?). All initiatives are made clear. All task-related questions get answered. Then we commence with the first of several tasks.
As you might imagine, some of the tasks listed are mine alone. Some are specifically for my Master, and some involve both of us. After years together, we don't feel a need to label those designations explicitly. We both know what falls under my responsibility and what falls to him.
However, should this be confusing in your dynamic, you can certainly define who is responsible for different tasks during the nighttime briefing. Try using one color of ink for yourself and a contrasting color for your Dominant. As an alternative, you could also mark the involved party's initials beside each task or write the person responsible in parentheses next to the task. This will eliminate any miscommunications about who is accountable for what items on the list.
The Process of Progress
I'm a very visual person. It's not enough for me to have an idea of progress; I want it portrayed undeniably. Additionally, I like the feeling of reward that comes with accomplishment. If you're anything like me, you take pride in your work and can look upon your finished work with a feeling of contentment.
This is why the briefing list is excellent for people like us: we can reward ourselves by taking time to cross out items on the list as we complete them. This gives us a sense of closure and accomplishment to help us move through the day. We can also look at the list and see our progress. This helps keep us on track!
How Is This Different Than a To-Do List?
The differences between a to-do list and a briefing list may not jump out at you at first, but there are quite a few benefits of briefing lists that most to-do lists don't deliver. Firstly, whereas a to-do list identifies what you have to do in a day (those expected of you), the briefings frame your responsibilities in a subtly different and more positive light. Briefing lists give you a chance to actively shape your days around goals and what's important to you (or your Dominant).
Secondly, a mere to-do list doesn't set you up for the success of actually completing tasks. All of that—planning and organizing—is done during the briefing. The briefings give you a sense of calm because they give you the security of knowing what your day will look like before. A briefing allows you the luxury of planning the duration of your sleep, the time you wake up, and the order in which your tasks will be undertaken. It is a relative "plan of attack" for tackling all those responsibilities.
Thirdly, the briefings (if used among partners, rather than a solo strategy session) can benefit the relationship between a Dominant and a submissive. The briefing lists aren't so much of a "honey-do" list (where partners outline expectations of chores for their partners). Instead, they're a combined list and discussion.
This supports the relationship by allowing both partners to see what the other's day looks like. Each partner knowing what their partner is facing that day builds empathy in the relationship. It makes each partner more conscious of how much work the other does. This improves the relationship, as each partner will be more mindful not to overload the other with more tasks or expectations.
Twice-a-day briefing rituals are an excellent way to usher more peace and connectedness into our lives during periods of uncertainty. By using briefing lists, we can prioritize what's essential—despite the situational ambiguity many of us face in our daily lives. I hope that you (and your Dominant) can utilize this technique to facilitate feelings of calm and control, no matter your circumstances!