Labouring over emails

Have you ever taken 20 minutes to draft a simple email?

I have to confess, I used to. Sometimes longer! I used to labour over every work email I sent, no matter how important the content. First I’d write it. Then, as you’d expect, I’d read it through. But instead of just correcting any errors, I’d start pulling the whole thing apart with my fears:

Are these the right words?

Have I put them in the right order?

Am I striking the right tone?

Does this send the right message?

Will it cause offense?

Will whoever reads this think I am stupid/uneducated/ill informed?

Will I get it wrong?

How I would labour over those emails! Deleting, correcting, rearranging and rewriting over and over again until either it felt safe enough to send or (more typically) I had run out of time.

Do you do this? Do you labour over emails?

Your approach to writing emails may seem like a small thing, but how you write them and how long it takes you speaks volumes about how you’re showing up to your work. When it’s a laborious process that takes longer than it should, it means you are showing up from some form of not being enough.

That’s why labouring over emails is one of the secret signs of Imposter Syndrome. It is a clear indicator that you are overthinking and overworking, which means you are not performing at your highest level. You’re not as efficient as you know how to be. You’re not as productive. You’re not as resourceful. And you don’t have access to the higher level thinking you are capable of.

After years of labouring over emails, I finally realised that the problem was never me. It was how I was thinking about me. All that self criticism and judgement made it almost impossible for me to be focused and efficient. The more time I spent in my own head worrying about whether I was doing it right, the fewer resources I had available for getting it done.

No wonder it was harder and took longer than it needed to.

Fixing this was easier than I expected. I didn’t need a 6 month confidence building course that promised to get rid of my Imposter Syndrome. I just needed to know how to get out of my own head when my Imposter Syndrome was triggered.

There are different ways you can do this. Making a conscious decision to be more focused when you sit down to write your email may help. Setting a timer and giving yourself a deadline within which to do it is another. But if you want to stop labouring over emails for good, then getting out of your own head so you can show up at your highest level needs to be part of your skillset. You need to be so good at it, it stops being what you do and starts to become who you are.

That’s why the best solution is your Imposter Speech. The process of creating it proves to you how capable you are. The act of saying it in those moments when you are stuck in your own head worrying about not being enough, is what helps you to believe it. This isn’t just about writing emails. This is about showing up at your highest level so you can get the recognition you deserve.