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August 24, 2009


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Hi Robert,
Thanks for a very useful piece. I thought I was the only one. But I can see this is a disease. I am as from now focus me.Small steps also help in defeating overwhelm.

Lois Saboe

I appreciate everyone's insights about how to cope with overwhelm --- whether it is to pause, get grounded, concentrate on a single accomplishment, or go for a swim! Thank you all for the encouragement. I need every arrow in my quiver.

Lissa Boles

Hey Robert,

Perfect timing with this piece - and thanks for the inspiration, cuz I'll be quoting you in a piece I'll be creating for our new beta-membership site.

Speaking of which, that same site has become a source of OVERWHELM (oddly enough) for me lately. Ye olde learning curve has been high - pre and post launch - and the need to listen and adapt as we learn how to serve more deeply has been a whew-fest!

I love the simplicity of the 'focused self' balancing out the overwhelm. Great idea. I'll be giving that a try.

I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve, and Susan's swim is one of them - as is a leisurely pleasure walk on the beach or sitting on my deck swing staring at the sky and listening to the wind, the birds and the surf. Anything that reminds me I'm not nearly as focus or freedom poor as overwhelm might convince me I am...

BTW - Craig, loved the Coachville share. Sounds very Byron Katie: so many ways to fight with reality, aren't there?


Yvonne Finn

Hi Robert,

Thanks for bringing "focus" on this growing condition of overwhelmedness that is sweeping the land and the world.

With focus can come prioritizing and then decision(s).
So, that is how I focus, I know that income earning activities must take priority over all that I do in my alloted 24 hours.

Whether I am writing articles, new content, placing ads are answering clients emails, the "meaty" part of my day must be focused on those activities.

I admit that I had to learn to earn and sometimes I slip into overwhelm , but I am getting better.

Thanks again and I look forward to your next article.

Yvonne Finn

Bob Fulton

Thanks for the e-zine information this week. A good reminder to concentrate on the important and not the tyranny of the "urgent" which seems to rule our lives.

One of those seemingly "little" things that can quickly overwhelm us is the daily in-pouring of e-mails. E-mail can quickly become unmanageble.

However, I have found that many people end up sacrificing "service" by simply deleting or not responding to many e-mails that deserve a response. Nothing is more frustrating to me than to send someone an e-mail containing information they have requested from me and never have them tell me it was received. If the individual never takes five seconds to hit reply and type "thanks", how can I know we've made the connection?

One of the ways that I provide that "extra touch" for clients, colleagues and friends (not spammers or junk mailers) is by sending a "thanks" reply to acknowledge receipt of what they sent me. It takes 5 seconds, and it tells the sender "message received". It's simple common courtesy.

Bob Fulton

Kate Williams

Robert, Thanks so much for this post. I am quite overwhelmed right now. I do slip in and out of Focused Self. You helped me stop and identify some strategies for intentionally changing my state from Overwhelm to Focus. One strategy that works was learned from my meditation practice: Stop. Look. Listen. I do this by stopping (typing, talking, fiddling, filing, anything), taking one deep breath, looking into the distance, listening for the farthest sound and feeling my feet on the floor. Then I ask myself: What's the ONE thing I'm going to do right now? The ONE next actionable item.
Thanks for all that you do, Robert.
Kate W.

Kent Vincent


I think Jean beat me to it a little w/r/t my comment. Oftentimes we need to consider time slicing rather than the fashionable, but somewhat dithering approach of "multi-tasking". Then our focus can still be brought to bear on one thing at a time even if we leave it and come back to it. For what it's worth, even the technical fields of industrial engineering and IT that I brush up against have rediscovered the merits of time slicing as a way of getting measured progress in various customer focused tasks while also avoiding imposing unendurable delays on others who are waiting to see the first hint of progress.

Susan Kruger

I publish materials for k-12 education; the month of August has become for me what April is for a tax accountant. I've spent the last several weeks in a constant state of overwhelm. Last week, I had to take my son to swim lessons. THe last last thing I wanted to do was take a break from work and drive him up for swim lessons, but of course, I had to make him a priority. So, While he took his lesson, I "killed time" by swimming in the adjacent pool. I spent 20 minutes actively swimming and treading water. By the time I finished, I felt like a new person! I learned a valuable lesson! Ironic this ezine came out just a few days later. :)

Take care, Robert!

-Susan Kruger

Craig Jennings

Good observations: The do-list isn't the solution, in fact it represents the problem; there's a saying "The guy with the longest do-list loses."
Some years ago, Coachville had a program which dealt with, amoung other issues, overwhelm. Their view: overwhelm is an emotional reaction, a process for managing the stress the individual fesls by rejecting it. Of course, the ensuing feeling of overwhelm isn't much of a solution - more an escape.
Coachville teaching suggested that "feeling through the feeling" was the right way to fly, confronting and identifying the feelings we muster up to avoid confronting the multiple tasks before us.
I like the solution of "focus" a lot, because it also implies a different mindest, a one-at-a-time way of dealing with the issues before us.
I also think there's a lot more in this, and that you might turn your agile brain to the problems and solutions of managing overwhelm and generating focus.
Craig Jennings

Jean Kurniati


You are absolutely right. The Overwhelmed You is sneaky and even though The Focused You always tries to be alert sometimes they do fall asleep too.

Ideally, one project at a time. But on the broader scope, it really is about time-management and understanding yourself. Some things that are your strength, or when you do them at the best time of the day, you can multitask. Otherwise, one thing at a time or else nothing would get done.

Or they eventually will, but we don't realize that they would take just as much time to get done, as if we do both of them one at a time, only sometimes with a better result because we were fully focused.

Linda Kaun


As always you are right on target! Just yesterday I had this exact sensation. I still had a ton of Stuff to do, emails to answer, etc etc, but I found myself stopping for a minute and regrouping so to speak. I realized I needed to just focus on the task at hand. As soon as I did that, the rest faded into the background and I was much more productive.

So take a step back before you plunge into overload and simply focus your attention. You'll end up 'in the zone' of awareness and clarity. It's great.


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