Service Skill: Digital Productivity

This post is a conglomeration of productivity systems, tricks, and tools I use in my slavery, focusing on the digital side.

Part One: Using Technology to Be More Productive, Not Less

Let’s face it: for a lot of people, their devices are simply time sinks, or for leisure.  Their phones are for Candy Crush and Instagram; tablets are for Netflix and cat videos; so on, so on.  For a lot of people, too, their devices are crucial productivity tools—full of important resources, communications, planning—but definitely still able to become a time sink with the right Wikipedia rabbit hole.  For this, technology can get a bad rap.  So Part One is how to make your tech focused around being more productive, not less.

Eliminate those time sinks.

If possible, it can be best to eliminate them altogether.  Delete social media accounts, games, whatnot.  On the other hand, those are perfectly fine things to engage in during leisure time, so in that case it becomes limiting their use to those times.  I very rarely use my phone except for a quick check on a ride or jotting down an idea while out and about, but I make sure there are no games on there or certain time-sink apps (Pinterest, anyone?).  No games period, actually.  Very little social media.  FetLife… Pinterest.  I used to have a Facebook, but deleted it because of the time sink factor.

If you can’t delete them, app and website blockers with timers can be your friend.  I have those distractions like FetLife and Pinterest basically blocked during most of my usual waking hours by a simple Chrome extension called StayFocusd.  There are many apps and extensions like it.  If you’re exclusively a Chrome user like me, an extension just for that may work—if you’re more of a general phone user, or use multiple browsers, etc., you may want something more robust to keep you on track during your key service hours.

Eliminate friction points in your tech use.

Have you ever meant to quickly check an email, and ended up looking at two other emails in your inbox, or running to find a charger for your dying device so you can finish reading that email, or getting linked to a site you forgot your password for, leaving you to get in via a reset email, or having to install an update before your device cooperates?

These are friction points.  

I recommend eliminating those issues—and a few more—in these ways.

One, properly set up and use a password manager to save your passwords, so you don’t play the, “Forgot your password?  Enter your username!  Forgot your username?  Enter your email!” game.  I use LastPass in the form of another Chrome extension.  Some of these even come with a strong password generator, and it makes it easier to not dangerously repeat passwords.  This is another one that heavier phone or app users may need something else for.

Two, charge your electronics every night.  The devices you use basically every day—plug them in before you go to bed.  It’s simple, takes just a second, but it makes a huge difference.  Take it from someone whose phone and smart watch went from “always dead” to “always charged”.  Also, make sure you carry chargers for whatever devices you’re carrying, and consider a charged power bank and appropriate cords for that.  The backpack I carry even has USB charging via power bank abilities built in (so you can plug in the power bank on the inside of the bag, and the phone to a port on the outside).

Three, unless you have reason not to (waiting for bugs to be worked out, new pricing, etc.): install updates promptly for your apps and devices.  It’ll save you the headache of functionality issues ensuing.

Four, backup, backup, backup.  Don’t lose your important files to dragging the wrong thing to the trash or a water glass dropped on a device.  Set reminders—mine are weekly—to backup your files, preferably in more than one form—for example, I have things in EverNote and OmniFocus, which have cloud syncing, and I also export both to iCloud weekly for more cloud backup, and save that same weekly export to a flash drive for a version I can touch.

If you do these, you’ll never get ordered to do a quick task on one of your devices and have to go, “Er… one more minute!”

Part Two: Organizing Your Devices and Related Routine

If your digital files are a mess to sort through, or you’re always forgetting something you’re supposed to do on your devices, you’re not going to feel—or be—any more productive.  Here are some organization pointers.

A Table of Contents is your friend.

Wherever it can be, something table of contents-like (whatever you like to call it/however you like to organize it) can be a lifesaver, especially if the alternative is just a shambolic collection of files.

In EverNote, you can select notes and have EverNote generate a Table of Contents note that contains the title of each note you selected, hyperlinked to take you to that note.  I make a new one of these for any notebook with more than a few notes in it on a weekly basis.  (I have a general physical notebook with a table of contents that I update daily.)

If you use anything where one would be useful: consider it.  You’ll find things faster.

Set (and keep) techy routines.

Set a time, however frequently you need, to check the digital things you have that need to be checked.  This means you won’t overlook things until they’re urgent (or worse), and it will keep you from compulsively checking things as you remember them.  

This can be correspondence, your calendar and to-dos, etc.

I set my times for this as part of my AM and PM routines.

In my AM routine, I also have a note to message Mistress about any questions, plan confirmations, permission requests, whatnot, for the day.  This means I hopefully have fewer, “Oh, I meant to ask—” times throughout the day.  If a similar note would work for you—give it a try!

Use tags.

Wherever you think they might be useful: try tags.  They’re a feature in a lot of productivity software, and you can use them on a lot of email platforms, too.

For example, I use tags in EverNote on recipe notes—to sort by diet (like vegetarian, gluten-free), main ingredient or cuisine (like chicken, Italian, potato), and meal (like breakfast, dinner, dessert, drinks, sides, snacks).  This way I can quickly find something to make for a guest on a special diet, or for a specific craving they’re having.

I also use a form of tagging in my email; I use Gmail’s filters to send emails straight through the inbox to specific labels/tags based on things like who sent them.  This way I have an idea of what emails have come in just by seeing the notification number next to those labels, instead of an unsorted mess of emails.  Pretty much nothing ends up in my general inbox.

Part Three: Collaboration/Other People

How to integrate technological options with real objects and timing, and how shared digital resources can make life easier.

Use shared folders or calendars instead of individual documents or events.

For the people you share things with regularly, go broad.  Save yourself a little bit of time selecting the same sharing settings every time you share a document, and apply those settings to a folder now, and simply drop things in there.  I use Google Drive for most of my collaboration, and so I have a folder I share with Mistress that I can simply drop things in, and it holds things like our contract, guest manual, my slave journal, a checklist for our weekly check in, slave positions guide, etc.  My best friend has a folder we share things in, too, mostly for writing.

Mistress and I have a shared Google Calendar as well, for events and meal planning and whatnot.  For ease of keeping track of my life when we’re trying to make plans, I share a basic calendar with my mom, too.

Tracking someone sounds controlling, leave it to the M-types, right?  Maybe not.

Mistress and I share our locations with each other via Find My Friends.  The fact she can track me raises a few eyebrows, but what actually gets questioned more is when I share that I track her actively way more often than she does the same to me.

I use it not for any kind of control, obviously, but as a service tool—notifications on when she gets within a certain radius of home can let me have last-minute food prep done right before she walks in the door.  When we go on our monthly trip, I use it to be waiting by where she will park at the hotel with coffee I grabbed in the lobby on my way.

Part Four: Specific Idea – Gifting Spreadsheet

The first sheet in my Google Sheets gifting spreadsheet has six columns: Item, Recipient, Occasion, Purchased (indicated via checkbox), Wrapped (indicated via checkbox), and Notes.  I fill it in for every item.  For ideas I have but haven’t committed to an occasion for yet, I put “Any”.  Under notes, I mostly note items that are DIY projects in nature and thus need more time than the others.  Each column is able to be filtered, so I can find all gifts assigned to any one or more recipients or occasions, or see just ones that are purchased but not wrapped (to see what I should go wrap), or purchased and wrapped, or neither (to see what I should go buy and then wrap).

A second sheet has a gifting list (who I gift to for what occasion, to make sure I don’t forget anyone and can plan), a very general ideas list, and an inventory of “Emergency Gifts” (fairly generic gifts bought and wrapped ahead of time with a blank gift tag and a sticky note label of what’s inside, intended for surprise recipients—like ones who give you a last-minute invite to their birthday party, or someone who gets you a gift for a holiday when you didn’t expect one, and you need a reciprocal one for them quickly).

A third sheet is a “have-gifted” reference, where gifts move to from the first sheet once given, to remember for future occasions what has already been given.  This is simplified to Item/Recipient/Occasion with filters.

Part Five: Specific Idea – Butler’s Book

In EverNote, I have a notebook filled with notes labeled with the names of people I know.  I have a template saved that I use and modify as needed, with the template including places for name, birthday, contact information, health information/allergies, general schedule (for making plans), entertainment preferences, “what’s up in their life” (for conversation topics), food and drink preferences (where I frequently link straight to the recipe notes), a “pre-visit checklist” (put extras of their favorite soda in the fridge from the soda shelf, adjust the lighting to their preference, etc.)  I include any notes on things to do the next time I see them—return something borrowed or whatnot.  A quick glance at someone’s note before seeing them can make things go more smoothly.

Day in the Slave Life #3

Note: What it says on the tin—third in a series, a non-fiction piece about one day in my M/s dynamic, hoping to answer some questions I frequently see about the day-to-day life of a slave.

I am barely awake, and Mistress’ morning alarm goes off, and I don’t have much time to ponder why she has an alarm set today at all when she gets up, shuts it off, and gets back into bed.  I happily take the opportunity to curl up against her until the snooze alarm goes off and she gets up to shut that, too, but stays up.

“May I get up, too?” I ask.

She tells me to get into my morning unleashing position while she goes off to the bathroom; I remember last night when she told me to get into my nighttime leashing position and wait while she finished getting a snack, and it was over twenty minutes before she came back.  I can’t help but hope it will be a shorter amount of time this round.  Patience, I tell myself, sitting up cross-legged, pulling my hair out of the way, getting the collar o-ring and attached leash clip to the front of my neck, the leash draped across my upturned palms. I try to keep my back straight. 

I’ve been mentally toying with the idea of mantras and “patience” is a keyword. But it’s only a few minutes this time. She lets me up.  I run through my morning routine—put on my uniform, wash up, do my stretching routine, check with Mistress before I go on my walk.  Half a mile into the neighborhood, half a mile back.

When I return, I finish my morning routine.  Make the bed, prep a pot of coffee for Mistress, start making the morning smoothies.  I sip mine while I get some other things done from my list, quick checks on things in the house; I stick a few more glasses in the freezer to chill, tidy up some things in the living room, rotate laundry through the cycle.

I’m collecting the trash from the smaller bins around the house to combine with the big kitchen trash and recycle bin to take out, replacing the bags, when Mistress comes to get me for our weekly maintenance session.  Well, she tells me to strip, get the maintenance wand—an unassuming short, thick, cane-like wooden implement that’s meaner than it looks—and kneel in the living room presenting it.  So, I do.  Like the leash, the maintenance wand lays on my upturned palms, and I’m practically still getting my back straight enough and my knees the right number of inches apart when she returns.

She sits on the ottoman, beckons me over her lap.  Gives me the familiar instructions.  I get ten strokes with the wand.  “One, thank you, Mistress.  Please may I have another?”  The counting gets breathy quickly.  Just the ten, full force, no warm up or cool down strikes with that wand is enough to bruise a little.  When I count the tenth, she answers my question verbally and tells me no.  Stays with me a bit, then places the wand back on the mantel.  Always in sight.  Gives me permission to dress and go back to what I was doing.

So I dress, and finish taking out the trash.  Throughout the day I play catchup after some sickness and travel, doing so many dishes my hands start to wrinkle, and eight loads of laundry.  Some clothes, bed linens, towels, napkins.  No robes, other table linens, or mop pads today.

Otherwise, I wrap holiday gifts—make a note to ask Mistress a question about the gifts that will be given at an event in a few days, and I might still need to make a toy bag packing list for that too…

I’m hungry and have just started the first steps of making dinner when she tells me to push dinner back a bit, and clean up her office since she’s going to get in the shower and won’t be in it anymore, and set up things to give her a pedicure when she gets out.  I have to think my way through some timing issues—tell her that dinner isn’t as much of a “put in the oven and wait” as she apparently thought, so I can’t do it at the same time, and dinner will be pushed back further than she thinks, but she’s fine with that.  She goes.  

I clean up her office.  Set up the pedicure things.  Still have a bit of time, so I preheat the ovens and handle some of that laundry, and finish that up while she starts soaking.

I give her the pedicure while we’re silent, but she’s watching something I can hear, though I have no context for it and don’t pay much attention to it.  After, I clean up those supplies and start dinner again.  Roasted potatoes, lemon pepper chicken.

After dinner, we do Meta Sunday—our weekly meeting where we run through a list of check-in questions and go over the calendar and anything else.  There’s not a ton going on this week—but there are errands, two kink-ish events, my library volunteer shift, a visit with my family.

After Meta Sunday, I go through my evening routines, clean up the kitchen one more time, finish that laundry.  Wind down.  Write this.  Soon I’ll write my journal, too, though this may be basically it. 

Why I Live M/s

Sometimes in M/s you take the parts of you that you don’t want to unleash other places and give them a place to flourish.

It is taking things that are not okay elsewhere and making them be okay.

For example, I’m a people pleaser.  And in a normal relationship—be it friends, family, whatnot—for that to be healthy, there have to be boundaries, and compromise.  In M/s, I don’t have to worry about, “Should I have said no?” or, “Should I have asked for this in return?” or any of that.  And I don’t want to have to worry about that.  It’s a relief to know that no isn’t an option, and it’s not a negotiation.

On the other side, Mistress likes control.  And plenty of people she encounters don’t want to be controlled.  There are again boundaries and compromise to keep it healthy.  But she doesn’t have to worry about those lines with me, and she doesn’t want to have to worry.

This is true in other areas of BDSM too—informed consent is what separates sadomasochism from assault just as much as it separates healthy M/s from toxic relationship patterns.

M/s gives me a place with clear answers on how to let those traits out which might not serve me well in the vanilla world, aided by openly M/s terminology and mindset.

Those traits…

There’s a minimalism quote out there that speaks of keeping only things that are useful or beautiful.

I think that useful and beautiful (I think pleasing would be a better word, going beyond aesthetics, but same concept) are things I strive to be.

In slavery, it can go like this.

The mostly useful side: practical service—the cleaning, cooking, house maintenance, pet care, hosting, secretarial tasks, etc.

The mostly pleasing side: rules/protocols/guidelines/details—the uniform, the leashing, the kneeling, the honorifics, the permission-asking, etc.

Slavery gives me instructions on how to be useful and pleasing; it does not leave things up to chance or interpretation or assumption.

It lets me have un-filtered, concrete answers to, “What can I do to be useful?” and, “What can I do to be pleasing?”

And sometimes I suggest answers that Mistress may not have realized she wanted, sometimes her answers change, sometimes life happens.

The lines of consent can look blurrier than some are comfortable with; there’s a limitless range of control across time, spheres of life, and other categories, and some, though not all, areas are controlled so actively it comes down to very precise details.  In M/s,  I don’t have to get caught up in if what I want, or am willing to submit to, is too extreme for a more vanilla label.

What M/s gives me is a healthy place to act on that urge to please and be of service, know how to do so without ambiguity, and take off the limits I would need other places to keep it acceptable.

I don’t have to wonder what would be useful, or when, or how often, or how I should be doing it—I get answers to those things.  And I’m allowed to suggest ideas, or ask questions, and not worry about getting indecisive feedback or answers, or ones that necessarily stay within the normal boundaries of what you can ask someone to do.  Lists for daily, weekly, monthly tasks, ones on other intervals, or by the day of the month or the week.  AM and PM routines.

I don’t have to deduce what outfit is cutest, or best suited, or have a, “You always look nice!” beating-around-the-bush conversation.  Or decide if I should wear makeup or not, or how to style my hair.  Uniform makes it simple.  Same clothes, every morning.  No makeup.  Hair down.  Other rules.  Straightforward answers.

No self-consciously adjusting my posture (or at least far less of it).  Set positions—for leashing/unleashing, for post-shower inspections, for general kneeling, etc.  No debating what to do with my hands, or about how many inches apart my knees should be while kneeling.

M/s for us is… deliberate, it’s systematic, and it does not know the usual bounds.

And I love living it.

Service Skill: Making the Bed

General Notes:

  • Bed linens and such that are properly sized, fit the color scheme, and are in good condition go a long way. 
  • Remember to change/wash the linens regularly (once a week is a popular guideline); watch the care instructions.  
    • Having at least two sets of bed linens can save some headaches.
  • Don’t forget appropriately keeping the bed frame and whatnot neat too.  This might mean dusting, or handling upholstery, or something else.
  • Remember mattress care—rotating, cleaning, etc.
  • Set the tasks mentioned on a repeating schedule.
  • Maybe try a light linen spray once in a while—but remember to check on allergies and sensitivities first.
  • I don’t mention certain pieces below, because I decided to stick to what I do—but if you have a bed skirt, mattress pad, etc., factor them in appropriately.
  • Make sure the piece you’re handling is facing the way it’s supposed to, both in vertical/horizontal orientation and where the patterned side is; a patterned flat sheet, for instance, needs to be put on the bed face down to have the pattern facing up when folded back. Note that the side of the flat sheet with the wider hem should be towards the head of the bed.
  • Customize it!  Make sure you adhere to your M-type’s preferences.

Making the Bed (the Daily Stuff)

  • If the mattress has shifted at all, for those tossers and turners, make sure it’s lined up/back where it’s supposed to be.
  • Fitted sheet: evenly place on the mattress; smooth out.
  • Flat sheet: make hospital corners.
    • There are many great resources on how to make hospital corners online.  A quick Google search should get you to guides for a variety of learning types if you haven’t done it before.
  • Main blanket: evenly lay on top; smooth out.
  • Fold down the flat sheet and the blanket so the fold lays not quite below where the pillows will be.  Neatly tuck the hem of the flat sheet under the hem of the comforter, or simply smooth out.  (This is really a preference point.)
  • Place any extra blankets, whether another layer altogether, or folded across the foot of the bed, or what have you.
  • If preferred, neatly tuck in the blankets under the mattress.
  • Put pillowcases on pillows if need be (tuck excess pillowcase fabric, if any, under the pillow); arrange pillows practically and attractively; try slightly propped up on the headboard.
  • Handle any other “extras”.  (As an example, I place my leash neatly on my pillow for bedtime.)

On 24/7 #2

So, I’ve been thinking about the question, “How do you maintain slave headspace 24/7?”

A lot of conversations about 24/7 start with a note about how there is still food to be cooked, a house to be maintained, pets to be taken care of, etc.  And this is true.  If saying, “I’m a slave!” magically eliminated responsibilities like this, a lot more people would do it.  In the real world, however, what it does is generally add responsibilities, not subtract.

The objection I have to how that conversation usually goes is that the “food to be cooked, house to be maintained” statement always seems to follow a “but”.  24/7 M/s… but there’s food to be cooked.  24/7 M/s… but there’s a house to be maintained.  And so on.

My issue there is that I do not see it as a “but”.

Because for us, it’s not that our dynamic lives in scenes and leaks out into the rest of our lives, hiding in the corners around the responsibilities of life.  Handling those responsibilities is itself key to our dynamic.  I’m a service slave at heart—doing the cooking, cleaning, yard work, pet care, coffee-making, event-hosting, meal and shopping planning, laundry, trip prep, filing, whatnot—that’s all the job itself, not something to work around.

This really helps us make 24/7 a reality, because a core value of my slavery is “usefulness”.  I like kneeling silently in a corner and just being nice to look at as much as the next slave, but for me, it’s not a defining factor.  Nor is play, or scenes.

The other night, Mistress and I had a good laugh about something.  We were standing in the bedroom and she said, “You may sit [on the bed],” and I looked at her curiously because while she says, “You may sit,” to me multiple times a day most days (almost exclusively in the kitchen, for eating), there is one place I don’t have to ask permission to sit (other than “in vanilla company”), and that is: the bed.  So in this case, she was mostly joking, but it got us going on “we’re less high protocol/overtly M/s in the literal bedroom jokes.

Yes, mostly jokes.  But it does have a bit of truth to it—our dynamic did not take root in scenes and grow out.  It started out being built around practical parts of our lives, which actually means I have fewer rules, protocols, guidelines, tasks, whatnot, to more actively keep in mind during dedicated scenes than I do going about the rest of my day, doing dishes and laundry and cooking and more.  

As said, usefulness is a core value, and I can only be so useful while tied up and being worked over with a whip and a neon wand, or while being set on fire, or whatever it is we kinksters get into nowadays.

Another element to maintaining headspace 24/7, one that Mistress brought up first when we talked about this general subject again later, is connection.

For a lot of people, maintaining a positive slave/service headspace requires interaction.  This may look like receiving an order, having their work checked, being supervised, etc. Most frequently, I think, it is based around acknowledgement and praise.

Mistress said something like, “If a slave does a task in a forest and no one is around to see it…”

Well, the ending of that sentence for many people is something like, “They begin to feel less submissive and maybe unappreciated.”

Which makes sense, really.  M/s is very connection-based for plenty of people, and that interactive part of service is thus the most fulfilling—without it, they get less of that feeling of submission because their submission is based on that connection.

Now, it might be harder to also get enough of that interaction and connection on a daily basis than it is to simply get the tasks done.

For me, a reason I think I fit into 24/7 well is that my slave headspace is far less interaction based and sometimes actually boosted by a lack of it.  (“Don’t bother me unless the house is on fire; set lunch on my desk at noon; bring me coffee when I ask; otherwise, don’t talk to me and go about your other duties as normal,” is headspace boosting, as an example.). An ideal service mode of mine is seamless enough to not be given much attention.

Although as a human, an extrovert, and so on, I still crave interaction and validation; it’s just not at the core of maintaining that slave headspace.

More at the core is performing the service itself.  The rewarding part is getting the thing done.  Real reward beyond that and the occasional pat on the head and “good girl” would strike me as overkill, personally, and again be harder to maintain, though it’s not up to me (but Mistress agrees).  I’m in it to be useful, and thus at the end of the day, it’s about what Mistress gets out of my service, not what she gives me back.  I also admit a skepticism towards rewards that seem to come down to turning off a piece of the dynamic (like temporarily not enforcing a rule or expecting completion of a task); I would find that more a disconcerting punishment than anything (not serving as usual in whatever way specified when service is the reward itself is more like taking away a reward), and knowing this, Mistress chooses not to use them.

In my last post about 24/7 dynamics, I spoke of the time investment factor.  My service tasks are a full-time-job-and-always-on-call level time commitment.  This gives me plenty of fulfillment.  The constant awareness, on some level, of the mostly always-on nature of our rules and protocols and guidelines, etc., is something else I spoke about—and that has an effect on headspace that is hard to replicate in the short-term, that “obedience is always mandatory” factor.  There are no times off-duty, weekends, breaks, times where it doesn’t matter.

Which is usually what that 24/7/365 phrase means, isn’t it?

Day in the Slave Life #2

Note: What it says on the tin—second in a series, a non-fiction piece about one day in my M/s dynamic, hoping to answer some questions I frequently see about the day-to-day life of a slave.

Still becoming awake, I open my computer to message Mistress.  She beat me to it, telling me to add something to the grocery list.

Yes, Mistress, I respond, and add, Good morning.  May I get up and get in the shower, please?

She gives the getting up request her typical response, which is coming into the bedroom from her office and unleashing me from the bed herself, and she gives me permission to get in the shower.

Thank you, Mistress.

There’s a “catch”—a quick bit of watersports before I turn the shower water on.  I smile, get up from my kneeling position and turn the water on as she leaves, feeling cold as I stand out of its way to let it warm up, and glad Mistress didn’t turn the cold water on this time.

I shower.  After, I go to her so she can inspect my work of shaving.  She approves.  I dry off a little more, brush out my hair, dress in my uniform.

We’re having a bit of an odd day schedule-wise; normally I’d be at my library volunteer shift and we’d go out to the grocery store tomorrow, but today, with the library closed and recent travel throwing off which groceries are urgent, we opt to stay home, and I place a grocery order instead, making the meal plan and snack plan, checking that and the master shopping list to make a list for the order I place.

Mistress and I spend some time together; I kneel on the floor next to her and we talk a bit and watch a video.  She goes to take a nap.

While she does that, she’s out of her office, so I take advantage of the good opportunity and clean up that room, file the miscellaneous papers of hers I end up sorting through.  I do some miscellaneous small tasks, a few loads of laundry, prep a coffee pot for when she wakes, bring in the grocery order and get it handled when it arrives.

She doesn’t doze long; when she’s up, I brew the coffee, fetch her some of that and some water.

I tell her I was planning on baking some chocolate chip cookies.  Does she just want to have those, or should I make the break-and-bake white chocolate macadamia nut cookie dough she requested from the store?  Or, does she want the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies to be homemade, too?

She opts for the latter, and I make both kinds of cookies from scratch, save some dough in the fridge, think about my project for National Novel Writing Month while I bake, answer a message from my mom.

I do more cleaning before the cookies cool and we snack on them.  Clean both toilets, do some sweeping, wipe down some counters, take out the trash, tidy up, check on that laundry to find the cloth napkins and placemats I’ll need more urgently; I check the laundry reference sheet I made about sorting as I put in another load.  I even get permission to use the dishwasher and run it.

Mistress is apparently in the mood to play a little today; she spanks me a little with what’s handy and sanitary in the kitchen.

It’s fun.  She acknowledges we’re getting short on time before dinner company though, so she lets me go to set the table.  I set her place setting’s silverware technically backwards, as she likes.

I get on the cooking.  Garlic chicken, corn, a new recipe for roasted potatoes my grandma recommended that I’m excited about.

Our friend who’s coming for dinner arrives.  I serve dinner not long later, get permission to sit at the table, the three of us eat and talk, I refill drinks and serve the cookies for dessert, clean up a bit as I go.  The food comes out well and the conversation is good.

He departs.  I do a few nighttime routine items and find myself leashed to the bed again, tired, but happy.

Service Slave Tendency Identification with Limited Kink Experience

In the vanilla world, you often hear a conundrum like this.  “No one will hire me because I have no experience.  I have no experience because no one will hire me.”

I see many s-types take this perspective to the world of kink as well.  Whether or not those new to the scene have an advantage or disadvantage, some people make this conundrum inside their head in slightly different words.

“I can’t become a service slave because I don’t know if I’m a service slave.  I don’t know if I’m a service slave because I’ve never been a service slave.”

I will admit that I am lucky in the sense that I have never had reason to doubt my side of the slash.  It all adds up neatly from my earliest memories forwards.  Some do have real doubts.  Some I think might benefit from learning to translate their vanilla experiences into a kink mindset, realizing that the underlying ideals might not be so different after all.  Doing this is what allows me to say, “From my earliest memories forward,” not, “From when I entered the scene,” or, “From when I entered an M/s dynamic.”

On the more slave side of service slave, it helps to think of how you have generally reacted to authority figures.  The younger crowd might think mostly of their teachers or parents.  Some might have more extensive work experience to draw on.  What happened if they made a rule you didn’t like, or set an expectation slightly hard to meet?  What does that tell you about you coping with it in M/s?

Some think of their favorite teacher from their school days as the one who let the class largely run free, was ultra understanding and gave a reasonable workload, perhaps a creative type, perhaps willing to improvise when authority wasn’t looking, themselves, someone who curved the tests and gave you two redos. 

Some think of their favorite teacher as the one who ran a fairly tight ship, a kind nature but a desire to push their students, who gave two times more homework than anyone else but you learned four times as much, who earned respect with the example they set and while less forgiving with their deadlines, more prone to give praise that really meant something.

There’s no archetype your favorite schoolteacher has to fit into for you to fit into any role in BDSM.  But, it’s an interesting exercise for many, and perhaps telling about what you respond to in an authority figure, what you don’t—and if you do respond well at all, or if it’s something to work on or a start of reconsidering.

As a general note, thinking of your interests in the media you consume or have consumed can also be telling.  Not just what you overall choose, but which parts, characters, and more draw you to it—and I’m not talking about erotica here (though that also says something), but even the vanilla-surface dynamics you have liked seeing in any books, television, movies, so on, throughout your life.

Service-oriented tendencies can also be spotted in vanilla situations.  A tendency to go above and beyond when able to help is a good sign of a service-oriented personality, as is a desire to be useful to family, friends, perhaps acquaintances.  Are you always volunteering to help with the dishes after dinner at friends’ homes, or hoping no one will ask?  Do you complain extensively to yourself or say something to them if they do ask—how would you overcome that?  Were you one of those kids who liked to do miscellaneous tasks for the teacher when you finished your work early in school? Circumstances allowing, have you been drawn to things like volunteer work or taking on responsibility in hobby-based groups?  And what drew you to them?  A feeling of helpfulness being a draw is one good sign, though certainly not the only.

Look through your memories for notable incidents, but for those looking for 24/7, especially, look for something else, too: consistency.

Do your tendencies change when you’re tired, somewhat emotional, a little under the weather, not fond of the task itself?  How will you overcome those things if they do? 

I feel like I’ve posed a lot of thought experiments or questions here, so let me address some of them for myself.

My submissive tendencies, in hindsight from the scene, are extremely hard to overlook.  I was always overly eager to please if anything, as in perhaps to a fault.  The man who I consider to be the best teacher I ever had provided an insane workload, was relentless in critiques, brilliant in his craft, and taught me more about the subject in half a semester than some people would get out of a Bachelor’s in it.

Some of my earliest memories are of watching and re-watching the late 90’s made-for-television adaptation of Little Orphan Annie.  I was always suspiciously fond of A Little Princess as well.  Not the parts of the movie most kids would get excited about, but a fascination with the bits of servitude the movies would show.

Volunteering has always been something that sates my desire to feel helpful and of use.  Hospital, school, food bank, transitional program for the homeless, my current position in a library, etc.  Most had some kind of draw that got me there in particular—like knowing people involved, or having a love of books—but the general concept was always something I liked, too.

As far as consistency, I’m not a saint, but I’m pretty decent at keeping up my better tendencies even when half-asleep, and can usually find something to get out of a task that might not generally be my idea of a good time.  Scrubbing down the hardscapes of the backyard with dish soap and water, say, is exhausting and leads to dripping sweat rather quickly—but damn, that before and after is satisfying, and pushing water around with a long brush has something fun in it, too.

I’m apparently consistent enough that, as a funny aside anecdote, Mistress once had a dream in which several things were askew—like an added story to our house, having friends she didn’t know in real life, etc.  When she encountered me in the dream, she told me to do something, and my response was sticking my tongue out at her.  Apparently that broke the reality line and she quickly realized it was a dream, and it briefly became a lucid one before she woke up.

Breaking back away from me and into a conclusion—nothing above is meant to be universal, but perhaps a starting point for some who are questioning.  Kink experience is unquantifiably valuable, but is not the only source for some answers.