Run It Like a Business: Organization in Slavery and the Love of the Process

Re-sorting things in OmniFocus again, I was talking about minor features I wished existed. Habit tracking, automatic sorting by date, Find My Friends integration, sharing, so on…

I got to one, and Mistress, laughing good-naturedly, asked, “What do you need those features for, are you a small business CEO now?”

I’m not a CEO. Far from it, I’m a slave.

(Not that CEOs can’t also be slaves—my point being more that for me, being a slave is my only “occupation”.)

But let’s face it: a job to be done is a job to be done. CEOs and slaves both have things to do.

And while looking back at a job well done is commonly a good feeling, I think that what’s often missing is feeling good before then: the love of the process.

Service is an art and a science both. There’s a lot of data-gathering, through questions and observations and research (and cycles thereof); then there’s the data analysis, and back to the start, a life-long cycle of learning. The art is what you do with the conclusions drawn from that data.

You observe your M-type’s slight smile whenever you properly set the table more nicely for dinner, rather than precariously balancing the silverware on the plate itself. You do some research into not only nice but technically proper table setting, and you start setting the table that way, as much as reasonable, and note a bigger smile. You ask them if anything could make the table setting better. “Yes,” they say, perhaps this other napkin fold. You look up how to fold like that, and start folding the napkins that way. The table setting and the napkin folds are the part that’s considered more of an art.

And honestly, satisfaction is much more short lived in that scenario if it comes from looking at the table set as your M-type likes it, rather than all of the parts involved in getting there.

Now, the “a job to be done is a job to be done” thing—and why I take organization weirdly seriously as a slave. Well, look at that example process. There’s the observations, the research, a stated preference. You might want to keep a table setting or napkin folding reference somewhere, and not somewhere lost forever in the depths of your files—not to mention a note of the preferences you noted or heard.

While pride in slavery might sound contradictory (and it sometimes can be), taking pride in a job well done is an excellent motivator for making sure that job is well organized, and of course, continually well done. Pride in the process itself can be even better.

Basically: the importance of organizational system you believe in cannot be overstated in many situations.

Okay, so if you’re onboard with the theory, what are some practicalities?

The thing is that organization generally should be a very personalized thing. I’ll talk about some of the things I do in as general terms as I can.

In this modern world we live in, organization and productivity apps are everywhere, and there’s something out there for almost everyone.

Personally, we use Google Drive to be able to share things easily—our contract, things related to eating and shopping, my daily slave journal, and things for our weekly check-in meeting. (Speaking of which: a contract for expectations, a journal for “record” keeping, and a routine check-in are all useful organizational tools for us in themselves.) We also have a shared Google Calendar.

I use Evernote for… more things than Evernote is probably meant to be used for. Features it has won me over with include that it syncs between my devices, has tagging abilities, you can hyperlink to a note (think document), and right now, it’s the Web Clipper I love—a browser extension that lets me “clip” webpages into the app, with whatever notebook (think folder), tags, title, or notes that I want.

The closest thing I have to a traditional to do list is OmniFocus. Mistress introduced me to OmniFocus the night we met. I loved her and I loved the app and I loved her for showing me the app and all of those are still true. Ha. (I very shortly thereafter received the task of reading the book “Getting Things Done” while kneeling next to her desk where she was working, in comfortable silence. The system described in that book is a basis of OmniFocus).

OmniFocus for me consists of actions, assigned to projects, tags, given due dates, and sometimes a repeating schedule. Each “action” is just a task I have to do—”do dishes”, “clean pool”. Each of those actions is assigned to a project. I have projects (for me, more like lists) called things like “General”, “Daily”, “Maybe”, “Calendar Events” (where I copy those Google Calendar things to), “Meal Plan”, “Shopping List”, “Electronic/Communication”. Each task can also be assigned to any tags I have, which are mostly people or places. Then when I see that person or go to that place, I can look at the tag to see if I should do anything (tags can also be assigned to a location so I get a notification when I’m nearby—like getting a “hey, you wanted to pick up milk” when near the store).

OmniFocus is what I look at when I wake up in the morning; Evernote is what I look at for more information on those tasks. OmniFocus might have “set table” as a task and Evernote might have “table setting reference” as a note.

Yes, being a bit of a productivity/organization geek has helped me in slavery more than I can say.

I’ve experimented a bit with things like bullet journaling and kanban boards, and use things similar when I think they might be beneficial. I recommend trying different systems for different situations and different combinations of them and finding what works.

Like I said: the love of the process.

The love of learning is a huge part of that too. Reading, practicing skills, taking classes, asking questions of those who are experienced.

Because, the way I think about it, the service process, rather than pure service, is something that’s important to a lot of M-types.

Sometimes a sandwich is a sandwich, and someone making you a sandwich is someone making you a sandwich. So why have a slave instead of a Personal Sandwich Maker?

(Okay, so there are some very practical reasons, but bear with me.)

Because a lot of M-types like watching someone put their time, energy, and skills into pleasing them. It might not be about what exactly that final action is. It might not be that the table looking nice is so important to them—but they get something out of knowing that you were watchful enough to notice what they liked, that you put in the time to read up on it, that you cared enough to ask about it, that you were dedicatedly practicing the just-so napkin folds. It is in those details that the difference can be.

So it helps if you love the process too.

And have a well-organized process you can love and be proud of.

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