Why I Skipped Last Week’s Email
Last Sunday, for the first time in 117 weeks, I skipped an issue of this newsletter. Here’s how it happened.
I’d been chatting to my friend Khe Hy over a YouTube Deep Dive live stream. He runs the popular productivity blog Rad Reads. As we were closing up our chat, Khe asked me ‘what are your plans for the rest of the evening?’
I replied with ‘ah mate, it’s 9pm now, I need to drive back to Cambridge, sort my life out, and then write this week’s issue of the email newsletter’.
Khe then asked, ‘Why do you have to write it? What would happen if you… took a break?’
Immediately my mind began to churn with the implications. I can’t take a break because it would break the 117-week strong streak, therefore I’d be breaking a promise I made to myself and my audience, therefore I’d be less likely to stick with it in the future, therefore I’d lose the habit of writing regularly, therefore I’d become a total wasteman, and so on.
Khe suggested an alternative way of looking at things.
If you take a break, you won’t resent the fact that you write this newsletter each week. You’ll be ‘rested’ in time for next week’s issue. You’d be doing your audience a favour because you’ve removed something from their plate. You’d be doing them a further favour because by taking occasional (or regular) breaks, your creativity would probably get a boost, thus increasing the signal-to-noise of future videos and emails. And at the very least, you’ll be able to write next week’s email about the fact that you intentionally took a break.
Suffice it to say that my mind was blown.
I’ve never consciously thought to take a break from this. As a firm believer that consistency is a superpower, it would be weird for me to suddenly decide ‘you know what, I’m going to write emails and make videos only when I feel like it’.
But there’s a spectrum here that I wasn’t paying attention to. ‘Publish every week at all costs’ or ‘be a total wasteman’ is a false dichotomy. It’s perfectly reasonable for us to have a schedule to encourage consistency and systematic creativity, while at the same time taking occasional breaks to recharge our proverbial batteries.
And so to experiment with Khe’s radical idea of it’s okay to take a break, I decided to actively skip last week’s email. And you know what? Nothing bad happened. The world still continued to turn. My YouTube career didn’t suddenly die overnight.
Ultimately, no one cared. And that’s a very liberating thought.
Have a great week!
This Week on Not Overthinking
How to Understand Things | Not Overthinking
In this episode, we discuss Nabeel Qureshi’s recent blog post “How to Understand Things”. We go through the post’s main points, and talk about our own experiences of learning and understanding things, from school to university to today.
Not Overthinking is the weekly podcast hosted by me and my brother. If you enjoy these emails, you’ll hopefully like that too. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Castro (my favourite podcast app) or any other podcast app – just search for ‘Not Overthinking’.
Favourite Things This Week
1. Book – I raced through War Doctor this week which is an inspiring medical memoir by David Nott, a UK trauma surgeon who, for the past 25 years, has volunteered in some of the most dangerous warzones around the world. It’s both inspiring and emotional and gives an insight into the world of humanitarian medicine.
2. Blog – If you’ve ever thought about starting a blog (why wouldn’t you!), Nat Eliason’s post How to Start a Blog that Changes Your Life is essential reading. It’s a detailed, thorough and eye-opening walkthrough of Nat’s own experiences as well as guidance for anyone just starting out. It’s well worth a read.
3. Book – For the past few days, I’ve been listening to Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning on Audible. It’s been on my reading radar for a while and I’m glad that I’ve finally got round to listening to it. It’s powerful and thought provoking – well worth a read/listen.
Quote of the Week
“Many times the hardest part about achieving a dream isn’t actually achieving it—it’s stepping through your fear of the unknown when you don’t have a plan. Having a teacher or boss tell you what to do makes life a lot easier. But nobody achieves a dream from the comfort of certainty”.
From The Third Door by Alex Banyan Resurfaced using Readwise.
Tweet of the Week
☕️ Coffee discomfort challenge (when ordering coffee or anything else, ask for a 10% discount). Attempt #1 – Petrol station, bought some fruit and a cream doughnut. Thought about asking for the discount. Chickened out. Next time. Thread 👇
— Ali Abdaal (@AliAbdaal) July 16, 2020
This Week’s Videos