The Immovable Email and the Moment of Clarity

I’m sure most of us have had that experience of an email sitting in your inbox for ages. Not one that you just didn’t see or got buried under hundreds of others, but one that’s right there staring you in the face. It kinda needs your attention. Or at least you think it does. After all, you haven’t trashed it or archived it yet. But for some reason you just can’t deal with it right now.

I’d love to know what the reason is. Do you have an email like that right now? What is it?

I get these all the time. A common one for me is that someone has sent in an article draft, and the draft is right on the edge of bad and mediocre. If it’s bad, that’s an easy email. Some pleasant version of Sorry, this isn’t good enough. If it’s mediocre, those take work, but I can muscle through them usually. It’s those on the line between mediocre and bad that are hard, because my mood plays such a big role. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to deal with something with fairly low potential, but I know that sometimes I am in the mood to try to pull someone up as best I can. So they emails sit, until the scale falls more firmly one way or another.

Sometimes the immovable email is from a friend. A loving little nugget tucked away amidst business stuff. The same frame of mind that answers business emails doesn’t feel right for friends, so it sits and sits.

Whatever the immovable email is, there tends to be a moment of clarity that handles it. Something sparks, and the email isn’t hard anymore. For me, it’s not just getting started writing it. Sometimes I try to trick myself into that, but it doesn’t work. Then the draft just sits and sits.

The moment of clarity usually comes from somewhere else. A long weekend when I didn’t think about it at all. Perhaps I snoozed it for a week and the answer came easier then. Or something related and serendipitous happened and the answer became clear.

Is this a common experience or something in my weird head? Have you ever had an email moment of clarity that helped to clear the stragglers in the ol’ inbox?

Author: Chris Coyier

Hucklebucker.

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