In " Morning and Nighttime Briefing: Rituals for Coping with Uncertainty," we explored implementing briefing rituals as a way of coping with uncertainty in our lives. We also discussed constructing lists for flexibly outlining our days. We approached this to help erect some semblance of a schedule when outright scheduling is not possible.
While that article is a helpful overview for adaptably planning more productive days, some specifics need clarity.
Since the flexible planning method uses lists as a central focus for improved productivity, a more in-depth look at list composition will increase our efficiency and overall productivity. The following analysis of list composition will examine what sorts of activities belong on our lists in more detail. It will also delve into how we can prioritize those activities for improved organization and time management.
Let Your List Reflect Your Lifestyle
The lists used in the briefing method are a compilation of goals and tasks to be completed for the following day. The lists will, therefore, vary depending on the person or people arranging them.
A list composed by a single submissive will look very different from one made in tandem by committed power exchange partners. Notably, suppose you are in a dynamic. In that case, the nature of the dynamic (D/s, M/s, TPE) and extent of power exchange will also influence the list's arrangement. Suppose you have some say in what goes on that list. In that case, your list will probably differ in significant ways from a list dictated solely by a Dominant or Master in a D/s dynamic.
Thus, list composition is subject to immense individuality. This discussion of list composition, then, is only meant to serve as a general reference, not a set-in-stone standard. Accordingly, use this reference as it suits you. Share it with your Dominant if it would be useful, or use it personally to aid your prioritization. In any case, make your lists suited to your style (and lifestyle!) so they can best serve their intended purpose.
Individuality considered, such a list will usually contain at least four main types of tasks: (1) self-maintenance tasks, (2) extraneous obligatory tasks, (3) chores/household tasks, and (4) development tasks.
Self-maintenance tasks include whatever you do to maintain yourself. This might consist of your workout, meditation, prayer, or whatever keeps you well and feeling like yourself.
For me, it's physical activity. I tend to do this one early on in the morning because I go for a long walk, and it's one of the more time-consuming tasks. An hour of walking early in the day invigorates me and makes me feel some accomplishment early on. Completing it early in the morning also frees me up to be more available and accessible for the rest of the day.
Doing your self-maintenance first also reinforces prioritizing your health—whether that's physical health, mental health, spiritual health, or any other variation—and that's important. (After all, the prime objective is looking after and maintaining "the property"!) But, while it is my practice, it is by no means necessary to place self-maintenance tasks at the top of your list. If you prefer to do them later in the day, that's fine, and you should!
Extraneous Obligatory Tasks:
Often (although not always), the list will also contain some work, or outside obligation, like lessons, schooling, homework, a job, or business. These are (ordinarily) tasks that aren't directly related to the internal workings of your dynamic.
In other words, these tasks don't make up the essence of your dynamic, but they might support your dynamic. For instance, schooling might support your dynamic if it's important to your Dominant to be traditionally educated. Likewise, having a job might support your dynamic if your Dominant expects you to be independently financially stable. These obligations, in that way, are extraneous to (albeit supportive of) your dynamic. Regardless, they are expected of you, and they are mostly non-negotiable.
Usually, these tasks have a set scheduled time. This is especially true if the tasks involve other people, like a class with pre-programmed class time, or a shift scheduled at your workplace. Knowing this, when creating the list, it's important to mark the times down for these tasks.
Sometimes, though, these obligations do not have pre-set times. Such is the case when the obligatory tasks reference individualized work, like an "at your own pace" curriculum, or work that's self-employed or self-directed. Your list will largely be determined by the volume of the work you expect and when you believe you will tackle it most efficiently. For instance, many writers feel that they are most productive in the morning, so perhaps you might consider starting it as quickly as possible and during the morning hours.
In summary, whenever dealing with extraneous obligatory tasks, consider whether they are associated with a set time or a due date and prioritize them on your list based on that. If there is no scheduled start time or deadline, prioritize tasks based on the order of imminence, importance, or necessity.
Most days in this house, our list contains at least a couple of chores and household tasks. "Chores" and "Household Tasks" are grouped because they are both about responsibility to your living situation even though they have slightly different connotations.
"Chores and Household Tasks" is the section that generally contains tasks such as laundry, doing the dishes, de-cluttering, cleaning, vacuuming, meal preparation, gardening, activities involving minor household or property maintenance, and provision of groceries or supplies.
Ordinarily, such tasks don't have set times. Therefore, they can be written into the list by their order of importance or preference. If you've enlisted professional services, the agreed-upon time should be noted on the list so you can prioritize it.
Development tasks support your (or your Dominant's) growth as a person, often by reinforcing or building upon your skills and hobbies. These tasks might involve reading, researching, learning new skills or methods, or honing skillsets. Commonly these tasks make a person more well-rounded and well-adjusted.
Admittedly, there can be overlap between self-maintenance tasks and development tasks. For example, "journaling" could arguably belong in either category depending on your motivation. Let's say you journal specifically for emotional wellbeing; you might consider journaling "self-maintenance" in this case. But, if you journal to become a better writer, that's more accurate "development." Fortunately, the categorization of a task is less important than its prioritization.
Productivity and Prioritizing
After roughly six months of my Master and I using these lists in our dynamic, I've found specific productivity patterns. This method works best for us because I present weekly and daily goals and obligations to my Master. He prioritizes and dictates the lists, which I then write down and maintain. The pattern seems to be that our most productive days are prioritized based on the order of significance and time-sensitivity, with due consideration for task duration. This trend illustrates that better organization of the list results in higher levels of productivity.
Getting to that more productive point took us some time, so try not to become frustrated if your lists aren't optimally composed at first. Finding an order of significance or importance that works for you will invariably require some degree of trial and error. Move through your process, expecting that. Tweak the composition of your lists with small adjustments until you strike a good balance. You'll know when you've found your stride because your days will feel calmer, more organized, and more accomplished.
Private-Time and Prioritizing
I've also noticed that it is sometimes vital to include other types of "tasks" (or, rather, activities) in your list—like a ritual, devotional, and interpersonal "private" time. During fast-paced or busy periods, those types of behaviors or responsibilities which enrich our relationships and dynamics can, unfortunately, be vulnerable to getting sidelined.
If they are genuinely priorities, though, we can easily reinforce their importance by writing them out explicitly in our lists. We can (and should) do this, not as a reminder of a requirement of our relationship, but to intentionally carving out space in our day for those aspects of the relationship we care most about (and need).
I hope these suggestions have offered more clarity and direction for those wishing to explore flexible planning and briefing lists as an organizational option. Whether you prioritize your lists—and thus, your time—at your discretion. Rarely are effective solutions "one-size-fits-all". So, feel free to adjust your lists in ways that make sense for your situation.
These lists are meant to optimize your experience of a "flexibly regimented" day. Therefore, if any of the concepts presented for list composition don't work for you (or your Dominant), don't feel you must force them into your workflow. Only you (and your Dominant) can know if a particular way of doing this has a positive impact on your experience. Take what you can use, and don't worry about the rest.
Scheduling your time, prioritizing your goals, and optimizing your day are highly personal pursuits and more subjective than a universal science. My sincere hope is that this exploration of loose, list-based adaptable scheduling will help you find your balance between focus, productivity, accomplishment, and joy.