Railroad Tracks

Knocked off your Rails

For the past several years, I have battled with the effects of playing hard (plus some lousy genetics and maybe poor posture). Long story short, I had a pinched nerve in my neck that inhibited my ability to do the activities I love. After years of physical therapy, cortisone shots, and altering my physical activities, I bit the bullet and underwent surgery to correct the issue. I had chosen the least invasive surgery, but it still required a posterior procedure, which has a longer recovery.

I thought I had prepared for my reduced abilities during recovery, from making meals to setting expectations at work. Even with all that planning, I learned that proverbial lesson: great plans’ can immediately fail when put into action. My ability to concentrate, be productive, and even comprehend information flowing at me was degraded. I could only focus for short bursts and had to take frequent breaks. Time moved both slow and fast. I had to lean harder on family, friends, and co-workers, and for someone who hates asking for help, this was the biggest challenge.

I had to continually readjust my priorities based on what my body and mind could handle.

I had to let a few things go during the last 6+ weeks. I stopped writing and posting on social media. My newsletter took a hiatus, and I pretty much had to unplug from productive thinking. Instead, I focused on recovery. Included eating well, sleeping, and moving as much as I could manage. What I noticed is that my priorities became very clear. I focused on the most important things at work that I needed to get done and let other things slide (i.e., email). I shed my chores around the house and just focused on my recovery.

As you read tips and tricks on productivity, you repeatedly hear that saying no, focusing on the most important, and concentrating on one thing at a time in short bursts, can unlock productivity. Reflecting back, I realized that I was forced to practice these behaviors. I the end, while I may have missed out on some of my goals (like producing 1 article a month + a newsletter), I got done what was in fact, the most important things I had to get done.

Throughout recovery, I had to continually readjust my priorities based on what my body and mind could handle. Even though I felt that I was knocked off my rails every day, I learned how to adapt and keep pushing on what needed to be done, no more and no less. So, when life throws something at you that you didn’t expect, don’t be afraid to step back, reassess the situation, and adjust your goals and set a new plan. As frustrating as this can be, clarity comes when you can focus on what the most important things are while letting everything else fall away.

About the author

Marc Kermisch

Technologist | Board Member | Advisor
My goal is to provoke thought and learning by sharing perspectives based on my experiences.

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