Lessons Learned #6 – Overwhelm

This post is part of a series that began here. By sharing my “lessons learned” I hope to illustrate the power of this daily practice of gentle self-observation. Please follow along and share your own.

As I was cleaning out an old client binder yesterday – a binder that was a higgledy-piggledy mess and reflected the chaos I was in at the time – I found myself thinking with some compassion for my former self:

It sure is hard to be organized when you are in overwhelm.

Overwhelm isn’t good for much of anything.


2 Responses to “Lessons Learned #6 – Overwhelm”

  1. 1 Jessica @ThriveYourTribe January 18, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    Hi Cairene,

    I really enjoyed all of your posts in this series so far, but this one’s the one that really resonated with me–it is hard to be organized when you’re overwhelmed! And, of course, we often think that getting organized is the cure to overwhelm which just sets us up for a lovely session of trying to outwit ourselves. Fun :-).

    I wonder if that might be the one thing overwhelm *is* good for. It forces us to change direction before we can move forward (even if all we can muster is, ‘maybe I could do this, if I took really tiny steps’). Because, well, you really can’t do much of anything when you’re in an overwhelmed state, so in order to do something, first you have to change states.

    Anyway, thank you for giving me something to ponder this afternoon!

    All my best,


    • 2 Cairene January 19, 2009 at 3:51 pm

      I think you make two excellent points. I too began thinking about what overwhelm might be good for after posting this and I agree – overwhelm is a signal that something needs to shift.

      And you knocked my socks off with the reminder that organization is most often *not* the cure for overwhelm, but the outcome of addressing it. I doubt I make that as clear as I should or could (and – true confessions – I often forget it myself).

      Thanks for giving me something to think about in turn. -Cairene

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Third Hand Works

from overwhelmed to ready for anything | organization and time management for people in their "right" minds | administrative guidance for independent creative professionals [more info]



© 2008 Cairene MacDonald, Third Hand Works. All Rights Reserved.

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