How to stay present and take focused action in the midst of a global pandemic


I was talking to a friend the other day. She has a big corporate job with small kids at home. 


And now, they are all home, thanks to the COVID-19 quarantine.


“If I thought I was overwhelmed before, I have just elevated that definition. I’m responsible for millions of dollars and hundreds of people, all while having a 3 and 5 year old climbing on my lap during my workday!”


She continued:


“I feel like I can’t be present in any area of my life. I’m constantly multitasking and feeling like a failure!” 


There is a hard truth about being present and taking focused action. 


You get to choose. If you haven’t chosen presence and focus, then presence and focus will not happen.


I understand the chaos of balancing work, family, small kids, homeschooling and all the additional challenges that COVID 19 has brought to our work lives. 


And I also have experienced that the moment I am no longer available for distraction and multi-tasking, the easier the boundary conversations and collaboration conversations are with my husband as we both work from home. 


I know, simply choosing sounds too easy, and well, shouldn’t there be a more profound piece of advice for staying present and focused?


Our impact and our organization’s impact has fallen victim to the myth of multitasking. 


The myth we continue to tell ourselves that we can get more done by doing more than one thing at a time. The myth that research has debunked by showing that multitasking makes us less effective, increases our stress and costs the global economy $450 billion annually. 


We can waste up to 40% of our productive time by simply switching between tasks. “Task Switching” takes into account the time to regroup and refocus on a new task while jumping between unfinished tasks. 


I’ve given tips and tools on how to enhance a client’s implementation plan, how to advance the way they plan their weekly and daily schedule to be more productive, and even how they engage their team around focused action. 


And unless a client first chooses to be present and be available only for focused action instead of distraction, they don’t move the needle on their priorities.


So when you need help being present and focused, here is what you can do.


  1. Commit to yourself that you will be present and focused (by committing, you are actively choosing)
  2. Declare to others your intention to be present and focused on your “one thing”. 


Note that your “one thing” is just your one thing right now. It doesn’t mean it will be your one thing forever. Every priority gets its chance to surface as the one thing. But if all priorities surface at once, they are all lost to the distraction of multi-tasking. 


Once you choose, the next step is simple. 


Take imperfect action. 


Because imperfect action creates momentum.

Momentum creates a sense of progress.

A sense of progress creates excitement.

Excitement turns into more imperfect action. 


What will you commit to and declare today?


What imperfect action can you take to make progress on your most important priority right now?


Do you need a personal action plan when adversity hits or bad things happen. Download this free Personal Action Plan for Overcoming Adversity based on my TEDx Talk: The Four Choices to Overcome Adversity

Personal Action Plan








Carrie Koh is a TEDx speaker, consultant, executive coach and healthcare executive with a passion for enhancing the way we communicate with one another to ensure efficient and innovative results with greater fulfillment along the way. She is the leading authority on cultivating resiliency and teaching high performing leaders to overcome obstacles to lead teams to new heights. She would love to connect at