It’s Not That Bad
April 11th, 2016
You know those weeks when things get away from you? When you start out with, maybe, eighteen things to do and by the end of the week, you’ve finished two of those things and forty-seven other things?
Last week was one of those weeks for me. And as a result, my inbox swelled. The emails that were only a few days old suddenly became ones that were a week and a few days old. The management tasks that make me feel like I’m managing things well were left unfinished. The summer camp registration forms remained blank.
But I knew on Saturday I could catch up. Or maybe even Friday night. It wouldn’t be too bad.
Saturday morning came, and I didn’t want to catch up. I had a pit in my stomach. What would people think of me now that it has taken me days (days!) to respond? Surely there were things I could do besides clean out my inbox.
I could have another cup of coffee. I could watch Odd Squad with my daughter. I could recycle old National Geographic Kids magazines from under the coffee table.
I could reorganize my desk. I could record unrecorded receipts from the week. I could alphabetize my client files. I could organize handouts for recurring workshops. I could update my newsletter list.
I could have another cup of coffee. Then some water. I definitely need to be drinking more water.
We all do it. We put off tasks that seem insurmountable. That’s why we plan to start a record-keeping system tomorrow instead of today. That’s why we swear we’ll update our CVs next week; this week is too insane. That’s why we promise that next month we’ll stick to our budgets. We’ll build the best budget in the history of the entire world. And we’ll definitely stick to it. How could we not? It’s the best.
That’s the ostrich approach. It’s putting off what we fear will be unpleasant, confident that ignoring something will make it go away.
Except that it won’t.
I opened my inbox and worked backwards from most recent to least recent, and the apologies increased with each email I responded to.
And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. (Perhaps it was the extra cup of coffee that helped. Or the water.)
We let our brains get ahead of ourselves sometimes. We exaggerate the misery we’ll encounter, and that makes it much (much!) easier to rationalize an easier course of action.
But sometimes our brains don’t know best. Sometimes we just have to do it, whatever “it” is. And even if the “it” is as bad as we thought it would be, we’ll probably feel better having done it.
I made it through my entire inbox. And I know when I open it next, I’ll have more unread messages and my beautifully clean inbox will be considerably less beautiful in its newly gluttonous state.
And that’s okay. Because whenever I get to it next, I know it won’t be that bad.