For a lot of us in D/s relationships where there are rules and discipline, time management and all the issues that go along with it seem to be a big thing. I know one of the issues I struggle with the most is being self-motivating. I’m just not.
That’s always been one of the things I most need from a Dom, because once I get going, I’m a powerhouse for work—but getting started… well, that’s another story. I am absolutely an example of the First law of Physics. Object at rest stays at rest; object in motion stays in motion.
When I’m on a schedule and things are moving everything is great. When I take a break… well, that break often extends longer than planned. And then I end up late, crunching up against deadlines, and in panic mode.
Luckily, I actually work well under pressure, but one of the things G tried to help me with was keeping a more even flow so that I didn’t end up in a frantic rush. I don’t really have that help anymore so I’ve fallen back on old habits.
Day one: Steady work. Yay!
Day two: Excessive work! All the work. So much work.
Day three: Plan to rest but do more work.
Day four: Still more work. Very pleased. Everything is being done.
Day five: I deserve a day off. I’m going to relax.
Day six: No motivation to start again. I think I’ll just take today off too.
And so on. I have a minimum amount of work that I do get done almost every day without fail, but when I’m stuck in a low motivation period that’s about all I finish.
And the worst thing is I don’t even really enjoy days off because I’m constantly thinking about what I should be doing. I zone out and waste so much time doing absolutely nothing while I procrastinate.
I know that for me a big part of it is being neurodiverse. I have various issues that cause me trouble with focus and attention. I rely on habits to keep me moving. When the habits are good… that’s great, everything is done.
When my habits are bad… eh, not so good.
So how do you motivate a bottom who needs your help to keep things going? Or if you’re a bottom who struggles with getting things done and doesn’t have anyone to help, how do you keep moving forward?
It’s hard. I’m not going to lie. Sometimes it’s almost impossible. It really is and a lot of it is going to vary from person to person. I have a few things that help me though, and maybe some of them will be useful.
First, I’m going to address this to Tops/Doms. You have a sub who is supposed to get things done and consistently doesn’t. You’ve tried punishment and that helps a bit, but you’d really rather they do the things, because it’s obvious they want to and just… can’t.
So what can you do to help?
Well, you have to understand that it takes both sides actually participating. You can order and punish, but if they aren’t able to make themselves do things you’ll just frustrate and annoy each other.
The sub might not be trying, or the sub might be stuck and overwhelmed. They want to do it, but they can’t take those steps. Both look similar from the outside so you may not be able to tell which is the case.
It’s a good idea to talk to them instead of getting mad and assuming they disobeyed. Did they mean to start but then got distracted and time passed and oops? This often happens with ADD and ADHD issues and it’s not always controllable.
Or did they think about it and decide they wanted to do something else first, and then just never got around to it because they were having fun—those are two very different situations. One might require punishment, but the other is probably not going to be helped by it. I think you can figure out which is which.
Once you figure out the problem, you can start setting up a plan to get things on track, and there are a few ideas that will help. But if the issues come from getting distracted or overwhelmed, you’re going to need a lot of patience to deal with this. Understand that sometimes it really is out of their control.
If it’s not their fault, then acting mad about it is never going to help because then they just beat themselves up over it. Instead what you want to do is help them take smaller steps towards accomplishing the goal.
So if you’re a Dom trying to help, or a sub struggling alone here are some tips that might help.
- Take things in small pieces. The easiest way to get overwhelmed is to look at the big picture. You have to clean the whole house? That’s way too much. Start with a more manageable goal, like cleaning the bathroom.
If that’s too much, then make it even smaller. Scrub the toilet now. Clean the sink later. Do the tub in a few hours. By the end of the day the chore is still done. Does it really matter if you did it all at once? Nope.
- Take advantage of technology. Set timers to remind you to start work or have yourself work in timed bursts. I do it all the time. I’m actually doing it now.
All phones have timer apps, or free ones can be downloaded. If you use Windows, you can set up focus sessions that will count down from as little as 15 minutes. Search ‘clock’, click focus session, set it up. Very simple.
It will count down a reasonable amount of work time. I set mine for 15 minutes- 30 minutes and during that time I don’t look at social media, or tv, or anything. I just write.
I also use timers to remind me to get started working so I don’t get lost scrolling social media or in Netflix. I give myself an hour, or whatever, when the time goes off, I close out of those things and do a focus session or two.
- Set up staggered tasks so that you easily move from one task to the next. It cuts down on the chances of getting distracted for long. For instance, start with laundry. I put the first load in. It usually takes 25 minutes. So during that 25 minutes I will work on e-mail. When the wash is ready for the dryer the buzzer goes off to let me know.
That’s my cue to move on to another task. I swap the laundry, start the second wash. First goes in the dryer. And then I know I have about an hour of time to do something else. Since I’m already in the kitchen I might spend that time doing dishes. Or I might get online and write since an hour is a decent chunk of time to get some words out.
The dryer buzzer goes off in an hour and I swap again. In an hour and a half I’ve gotten a large chunk of work done. I feel productive, and I haven’t really had a chance to get distracted, but if I did then it was only for a limited time. (If your task doesn’t have a built-in buzzer like the washer/dryer does, then set your own alarm.
- To-do lists. I’ve mentioned these before. I did a whole post on how useful they are, which you can find here: Daily Lists and How They Help with D/s (Especially Long Distance.)
I cannot recommend them more. There is something physically satisfying about being able to check off tasks as you do them, that just really helps to push you to get things done. For someone like me, with OCD, it’s especially helpful because I get very focused on making sure I complete the list.
If you have a Dom this is something they can be a big help with too. They can give you tasks to put on the list that they think you’ve been skipping. They can supervise the list throughout the day, asking you to take a picture and send it, etc. They can check in with you at the end of the day to see how much you’ve gotten done.
Just a note here: I usually set up my to-do lists several days in advance so I can ration the more difficult tasks throughout the week without forgetting them. This also allows me to check off things for later days in the week if I have a chance to do them earlier. I enjoy getting to a day and finding out some of the tasks are already done.
Also, make sure you leave a few blank spots on each day if you do it this way. Things always pop up that will need to be added and you don’t want to miss out on getting to check it off because there was no room on the list to write it down.
- Incentivize your tasks. Again this is great for either Dom or someone on their own. If you have a Dom, they can decide a reward for finishing a particularly time-consuming or difficult task. If you are on your own, then you can reward yourself with something.
One fully completed list= an hour of game time, or tv time. Getting the task done you’ve been putting off for days = a trip to get an ice cream cone. One hour of work time = one hour of Netflix time. There are so many different ways to do this.
Make sure the rewards are small and are equal to the task you are completing.
- Make it a game. Here’s something fun I first read about for encouraging children, but it works great for subs or Littles too. Write all the tasks you need to complete for the day down on separate pieces of paper. Fold them up and drop them in a container.
When you’re ready to get started on things, reach in, and pick one out at random. Whatever it is that’s what you have to do now. No procrastinating because fate has chosen for you. Get to work!
You can also add prizes and rewards to another container so when you complete each task you get to reach in and pick a surprise reward for it. Make the rewards smallish since these are just daily tasks. 15 minutes of Social Media time, 15 minutes of Netflix (Set a timer so you don’t accidentally go over). A cookie.
Along with this you can work on bigger projects that are being put off. For instance, organizing your taxes, scheduling a doctor appointment, finishing a project, painting the bathroom etc. You can make a separate box for this and put in all your big tasks. Then you pick 1-2 a week to get done. The rewards for this should be a little bigger to match the difficulty level and amount of time they’ll take.
You get to decide what fair rewards are, or your Dom can, if you have one. This is great especially with long-distance relationships. It adds a little element of mystery to tasks which are normally boring. To make sure you don’t continue to skip picking from the bigger task box, make sure you schedule it for specific days.
Are Mondays slow for you? Might be a good day to schedule picking from that box. And you can add ‘Pick a task from the big chore box,’ to your daily to-do lists however many times a week you need to in order to make progress on cutting down on your stress.
- Find a work buddy/accountability buddy. This is actually a really easy way for you to get accountability if you don’t have a Dom, but even if you do it helps.
Find a friend who also needs to get things done and also procrastinates. You can encourage each other throughout the day. Showing off your list progress to each other. Maybe work on similar tasks at the same time if you both need to do the same thing. Even taking breaks together if you want.
Plan a mutual reward if you like. If you both get your lists done, you can watch a show together or play a game together. Since both of you have to complete, there is a little positive peer pressure going on for you both to accomplish that.
Do you have organization ideas that help you get stuff done when you’re feeling distracted or scattered? Feel free to comment with your ideas. If you do some of these already and find them helpful, feel free to comment and let us know which ones you use.