Just Do the Thing.

Zhu Li, Do the Thing - Varrick

Sometimes you just gotta Do the Thing you’re putting off.

After a recent serious bout of email anxiety, I’ve finally got to Inbox Zero. Tonight.

I wasn’t going to do it tonight. I almost left my house. Had something else to do — I still do! But I had been putting off emailing Valeska for too long. I had to at least get some momentum. Before I left the house, I had to at least prepare for emailing her upon my return tonight. Then I thought — no, I have to get started on the email. At least to write the initial greeting, formalities, etc.

So I did that — then I kept going. Just kept on. I had momentum, finally. It wasn’t so bad! I’ve been putting off this email for 3 days now, procrastinating both consciously and sub-consciously. That’s the scary part — the sub-conscious procrastination. I’d eventually identified that, and realized what my mind and body were doing to me. Well, mostly my mind, but the body acts in accordance with what the mind wants.

Anyway, I gained momentum and before I’d realized it, I was 80% done. Just had to finish! So I did. Just powered through it. Clicking ‘send’ hadn’t felt so amazing in such a long time. Then I was down to 1. Yeah, that’s right, I was still at Inbox One. Like Air Force One. Not really.

You know what happens next. Momentum. Powered through that one too. And this one had been put off for about 2 weeks now. And it’s not that I don’t like these people or didn’t want to email them — on the contrary, I really like and respect both of these individuals. Very much. But that’s what made it so hard.

Sometimes, you just have to sit your ass down, and Do the Thing.

When the pain gets great enough, you just do it. No more excuses. No other things to do. Just Do the Thing. And it feels great. Feels amazing, like I can finally breathe freely once again. Fresh air. I love fresh air. And sushi. What? Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah, since I already had the momentum of Inbox Zero, and the wonderful feeling of having Done the Thing, thought I might jot this down. Maybe it will help elseone struggling with Doing the Thing.

Side note: If ‘elseone’ doesn’t make sense to you, please remind me to post my Proposed Additions to the English language note. I’ve typed it up somewhere and pretty sure I was putting that off too…

And now, I leave you with a montage of Varrick requesting that Zhu Li… “Do the Thing”.

ScreenCap Credit: KatherinaXC

Email Anxiety

Inbox - Email
Breathe while reading your email!

I don’t know if email anxiety is a real thing, but I definitely have it, regardless.

When composing an email, sometimes it takes me one, two, … up to three hours or more. To write an email. Not a long email of a few thousand words (I don’t believe most emails should be that long). Just a simple, short introductory email.

“Hey, how are you? I’m Nathan. I see you’re doing [INSERT COOL THING HERE], I think that’s cool because [REASONS] and just wanted to connect with you. I’d love to help if you need it with [SOME THINGS I CAN HELP WITH].

Anyway, take care,
Nathan

<<--- this template took me 2 minutes to write. An email that looks just like this template, but with details filled in and written completely from scratch, can take me hours to write. My anxiety is that bad. Side note: I really should start using templates like this to make life easier.

I agonize over the process, how will this sound to him/her? What words should I use? What should I say? This is especially true with people that I respect and admire.

Replying to emails is the same way, sometimes even worse. Because someone’s taken the time to write me a message and respond, meaning they at least don’t hate me. They took time out of their day to write me something. So I’ve now got to step up and really deliver value.

I know it’s over-analyzing. It’s really a form of perfectionism. I don’t want to mess anything up, say something one way where it could have been said better, or more elegant, or more precise.

Analysis paralysis – the reason why I don’t get near as much accomplished as I’d like to. But I’m committed to being prolific, so I’ll have to just power through and as my friend and colleague Chiara told me, “I think you need to get out of your head, and get out there and talk to people… just talk to people, I think the biggest thing that’s holding you back is this perfectionism. You need to practice moving fast.”

I also have this internal rule where I always reply to emails unless I think it’s spam (like from a tech recruiter — those people really are the worst). So, if you’ve emailed me and I haven’t replied, and the email warrants a reply, then it really is on my TODO list, promise. It’s likely that I respect and admire you, and just haven’t had the time (read: hours) to sit down and craft a well-written, perfect response to you, because that’s what you deserve. I’m sorry, I do want to write back to you, and I will eventually.

So my challenge for today is to:

1. Get this post up & published, and:
2. Get to Inbox zero — reply to all emails where I’ve been putting off emailing them (which is why my Inbox isn’t at zero now).

Thanks for reading, thanks for understanding, and you’re awesome.

Illustration credit: Marie-Chantale Turgeon – Breathe while reading your email!