Procrastinators Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from chronic procrastination.

need help getting started with odious email

Hi everyone, 

I'm not sure if this is the right section to put this in.. let me know if it should go elsewhere.  Here's why I'm posting today:  first the confession:  I have blown off someone that I was doing some volunteer grant writing for.  The last time I  spoke with her was a month ago, and I said I would get her a revision of an LOI she wanted me to look at the next day.  Then I got strep throat, was really ill for a week, and.. never ever got back to her.  

I feel terrible about this daily.  And yet, every day passes and I cannot seem to write to her.  As per usual, the problem comes of shame and not knowing what to say.  How much to reveal.  How much to lie.  I'm wondering if others here feel like talking about their experiences with sort of dilemma.  

The strep was a reasonable excuse, but the reason I was doing my "hiding" thing with this (very nice very patient) lady was because I had already been late and behind with deadlines for her so many times, had over-committed / under-delivered so many times, that even though Strep was a good excuse, I'd already made so many excuses by that point that I was convicned she'd think the strep excuse was a lie.  Uggg.. it all makes me feel so crazy.  Things like this (and wow, this commitment is SO not the only commitment I have been hiding from in my life) make me feel so crazy and compulsively self-sabatoging.  oy vey.  

Well, thanks for bearing with my disorderly thoughts here.  I think I want to draft something that's honest to send to this lady.  Sometimes I just want to come clean.  stop the charade.  I really don't know if I can send this email (draft below), it's so much.. TMI..  but a part of me wants to.  The last time I saw Z. for a board meeting, afterwards we were chatting and the we spoke about some personal-ish stuff.  Her granddaughter, her abusive first marriage, how she married young and had to get out to save her own life.  I did reference my own struggles with depression, and how difficult things have been since I got to ny.  


Dear Z.,

I really owe you an apology.  I am sorry I have not been able to follow through with commitments I have made to you and [organization name].  I don't know what to say by way of explanation.  I have been struggling with depression, maybe I told you a little bit about that when we were chatting that day of the board meeting. When we met I felt things were looking up - that it had really begun to lift and I could take on some more things, but then suddently the last few months have turned out to be particularly difficult again - In february I was blind-sided by an unexpected relationship with someone who turned out to be, well, crazy and controlling.  Hard to admit to that, because I like to think of myself as having a pretty good, not very impulsive, head on my shoulders.  Not the sort to be blindsided, or the sort to let relationship drama rule my life.  But.. crazy rarely looks crazy in the beginning, I do believe that's the truth.  Too often it looks just the opposite.. high-functioning, accomplished, self-aware.  scary stuff.  At least it didn't last longer.  

Then, the day after I told you I'd have a revision of that LOI to you I came down with Strep throat, but kept hoping I could get the LOI done anyway.  I was too out of it to do it, though, and I avoided writing you and telling you I'd come down with strep for fear that it might sound like a lie, given my track record to date of not living up to my self-imposed deadlines/commitments.  Now somehow another month has passed, and here it is mid-may, and I have been avoiding being in touch for fear of knowing just what to say.  

Well.  It's not my usual style to be such an open book, but I don't know how else to explain, and I feel I owe you an explanation.  I would still like to help out with [organization] in the future, but if I'm honest with myself I have to admit that I don't seem to be in a place to be of very much use to you right now, at least where deadline driven writing tasks are concerned.   


well, that's as far as I've gotten so far.  Was thinking I could mention some consultant resources that might be helpful to her.  She's got a lot of business experience, but now that she's running a non-profit she could really use some insight from seasoned fundraisers and grant writers (which I'm not, exaclty, though I do have some experience and came at the low price of free.. I felt she and her org deserved / could really benefit fromt he advice of someone with a lot of authority and experience.)  

I'm all ears as to any thoughts or comisserations you guys might have, how you deal with situations like this, if you can relate.. etc.  

 thanks muchly for taking the time to read.   



just had the same experience

Hi I just went through the same thing with some packages I needed to ship to clients.   They were long overdue and I had a horrible block about even checking emails regarding the delay.

 I would keep your email very short and apologize, but you might be pleasantly surprised by the response.  I cringed and didn't open the emails from what I thought would be irate clients, but then it turns out they were very nice and just reminders.   I do the exact same thing as you do  (keep agonizing).  Ugh!  Wonder where this comes from?

just wanted to say you are

just wanted to say you are brave and i commend you. i sometimes feel i "problem hoard"... i feel i didnt deal with it properly initially and then i just want to hide from the issue altogether, hold it in and hope it magically disappears... good luck to you and welcome to the board.

odious e-mail

That e-mail is a very brave step, and I think you're absolutely right to send it.  I'd agree with kromer that the information about your problem relationship is probably a bit too much for what is otherwise a very professional email about a difficult work situation.  I'd be inclined to stop the first paragraph at

In february I was blind-sided by an unexpected relationship with someone which turned out very badly.

If I was receiving an e-mail like this I'd appreciate the pointers to consultant resources.


email suggestions

Good for you for composing that email! It takes a lot of guts to come clean with someone (and I'm confident that no matter what you write you will feel a lot better once it's sent).

I am no expert at composing such emails, though since I am a procrastinator  I have much more experience with them than I'd like :P With that caveat, here's my two cents.

I think that your last paragraph is perfect...honest, taking responsibility. I think that concluding with consultant resources would be helpful if you can easily provide them, but you could also just end the email right here and it would be plenty.
The first two paragraphs are quite personal and it is your call how much information you want to give Z--certainly you are not obligated to tell her all this. If I were in your place I would leave out the stuff about your last relationship and stick to medical issues, but what you have is fine too. 

Again, good for you! I know I tend to just hide when a commitment becomes too much, rather than coming clean--but when I have managed to be honest it has been much better for all involved. My guess is that your email will be well-received, that Z will be much happier when she's clear on what you can and can't do right now, and that you will feel freer :)

Oh, and welcome to PA!

thanks kromer et al for your help / comments

Thanks so much, everyone, for your kind words and support.  it really means a lot. 

Well, i haven't sent it yet.. but posting it here was a good first step.  I think writing the draft about the relationship stuff is enough to get that out of my system without having to actually bare my soul that much to Z.  She would I'm sure be understanding and sympathetic, but it is TMI, not my usual style, and I would regret it.  hey, sometimes being the worlds least-impulsive / most-obsessive email-prose-composer comes in handy.  

Well, i'll try to check in when i actually send it.  If you guys have any odious email drafts you wanna take a first baby-stab at / run by someone i'm all ears :) 

 By the way - and i'll try and post this elsewhere - but I came across a really useful website -  

 It was founded by a Yale business school prof, and it's a website for creating accountability structures for yourself -  you can wager your own money on whether you get thing x done, you can recruit supporters and "referees"  ..  i wonder if some of us in PA might be able to be "referees" for one another in a new way, by using this tool?  

though i suppose one day that could lead to a co-dependency problem as well as a procrastination problem ;)   Just kidding... i think. That'd be more "inter-dependent" than co-dependent, right?