I spent the first six months of 2017 living in the hospital while my 5-year-old son, Ari, waited for, received, and rejected a heart transplant. During that time I’d spend my nights an hour away from him with our 3-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son. Each morning I’d fight Boston traffic to spend my days with Ari on the 8th floor at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Never before had my head been so distracted and my heart so heavy, so taxed. We faced incredible uncertainty. Would my son get a heart? How long would he (and we) live full-time at the hospital waiting? Would he die while he waited? Would he survive after he received his heart?
Being torn away from my young children each day. Managing the multiple-times-a-day shifts in Ari’s care plan. Trying to keep him safe and healthy enough to receive a heart. It was all hell.
At the same time, my husband and I had to continue to work to keep our business going. It would have been the worst possible time for it to fail and for us to lose our health insurance.
On the bright side, I could work from the hospital. But could I work at the hospital? Constant beeps, dings, and people. A never ending stream of doctors and updates. My heart torn apart every single day when I heard, “Mommy, please don’t go. Stay with me.” each morning from our daughter Lexi, and each night from Ari.
The anxiety, the uncertainty, the not knowing how long this would go on, were debilitating.
This is exactly how millions of people across the world feel today, right now.
I‘m on the other side of it in a way. Along my journey, I’ve dealt with great grief and great loss as Ari ultimately passed away in July 2017. I’ve dealt with a scary health risk and had a terrible loss just as people (including us, once again) are facing now.
And everyone is worried about their jobs and financial safety. We understand that too. While we fought to keep our business alive, in a stroke of devastating luck, we lost our home to mold damage in early 2017 in a way that insurance did not cover. So much piled on it was surreal.
Just like everyone faces today.
Of necessity, somehow I learned how to be productive, and how to focus and how to get a ton done even in the most challenging circumstances. It took me years to figure it out, but I did.
With the current situation in the world, I’ve been thrown back my feelings of the long hospital days. I can remember the smells, the distraction, the heaviness in my heart.
I’m also reminded of my journey to learn how to focus, achieve, and actually feel good in spite of these extraordinary challenges. In fact, during this time of working in the hospital, my husband Mike and I experimented with dozens of habits and hacks to help us focus. We found that many of the productivity tips out there simply didn’t work for us. So we created our own and a system started to emerge.
Stop yourself from distraction with this simple hack. Say, “3…2…1…Stop!”
To validate the system, we conducted a major study and analyzed over 5,000 professionals to find out what drives productivity. That’s when The 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity and The Productivity Code were born.
These last few months, I’ve been doubling down on a few of the habits and hacks in The Productivity Code. These are specific tactics to help you focus and tune into your work, while you tune everything else out.
Here are five tips that have helped me to stay focused and get a massive amount of work done in the midst of crisis.
In these uncertain times when my head and my heart are hurting, I’ve doubled down on these productivity hacks. I’ve become hyper-focused. It’s not only allowed me to stay productive during an uncertain time, but also given me clarity on what’s important to me and brain space to focus on something other than the crisis happening around me.
I’ve been more deliberate with how I spend my time and I’m constantly reminding myself to stay present. By doing this, it’s allowed me to at least feel good about a few things right now—and given all that’s going on in the world, that’s saying a lot.
Erica Schultz is author of Not Today: The Productivity Code Revealed (forthcoming) and Chief Marketing Officer at RAIN Group, a Top 20 Sales Training Company that delivers award-winning results through in-person and virtual sales training, coaching, and reinforcement. RAIN Group has helped hundreds of thousands of salespeople, managers, and professionals in more than 75 countries transform their sales results and unleash their sales potential. Follow Erica on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.