Andy and I were talking yesterday about how both of us really struggle on email, especially during busy weeks when we’re really focused on something (travel, a project, etc). I can’t tell you how many emails I start with: “I apologize for the long delay here…”
I described it as being afraid of the inbox. I live in fear of the inbox, especially when I get behind. And then, rather than just dive in, face the fear, and get through with things, I end up procrastinating and then of course it only gets worse.
One way to think about it is that you have to keep swimming so you don’t drown. Like a shark. That’s how I think about walking through NYC, or driving in a car — in the midst of chaos, it’s better to be assertive and aggressive, make your own path, rather than get swept up by being tentative and timid.
But while that really works for me for driving and walking, I still often live in fear of my inbox. I am not an inbox shark. I am a tiny minnow getting cast about in the sea. I suspect I’m not alone.
And of course, it’s not just email. There is an overwhelming stream of stuff coming at all of us from every angle. I’m adding to it this very second by writing this blog post on Tumblr :-).
It seems to me — though I haven’t mastered this yet — that the right way to face it is to swim ahead like a shark, stay in the game, not get afraid, and not feel guilty for all the things you’re inevitably going to miss, despite all that. Easier said than done.