A top-level Kiwi recruiter hit by a car on a morning walk said the traumatic brain injury she suffered has taught her to work smarter and faster.

Shannon Barlow was out walking her dog before work in August last year when she was hit by Land Rover coming around a corner.

The managing director for People2People Recruitment in Auckland saw the car and put her hand up to alert the driver but knew it was too late.

It was estimated the car turned right into the street at around 40-50 km.


"I looked up and was stunned to see a big dark SUV right in front of me," Barlow said.

"I put my hand up in a stop signal but distinctly remember coming to the alarming realisation that the car stopping in time wasn't going to be an option and I was going to get hit."

And she was.

Shannon Barlow with her dog Boh. Photo / Supplied
Shannon Barlow with her dog Boh. Photo / Supplied

Barlow was flung approximately 2 metres in the air, landing on her back with her head hitting the concrete.

She was knocked unconscious and woke up surrounded by people and with emergency services on route.

Her dog Boh escaped without injury but Barlow was left battered and bruised with abrasions to her face, an injured wrist and a huge laceration to her scalp.

"I'm extremely thankful it wasn't much worse - not dying was an excellent result," she said.

"I did, however, suffer a traumatic brain injury and still months later, I am still trying to recover from the effects of concussion and get back to the fulltime job of running a business."


Barlow said the limitations set by the brain injury in the first few months meant she could only manage to work 2-3 hours a day.

Colleagues at People2People got Barlow a high-vis vest for Christmas. Photo / Supplied
Colleagues at People2People got Barlow a high-vis vest for Christmas. Photo / Supplied

"It is not a lot of time to get stuff done and I quickly realised that I needed to get the most out of those hours," Barlow said.

She said it forced her to become a pro at prioritising and said very little of her precious time was spent checking emails.

Time chunking

"I knew time-chunking was a good idea pre-Land Rover, but it became more necessity than life-hack on the road to recovery," she said.

"My three hours turned into four x 45-minute chunks because putting in a concentrated effort for 45 minutes at a time, is much better than trying to push through for three hours with a sore, fuzzy brain."

Best work style

Barlow always knew she worked best first thing in the day and this didn't change with her brain injury.

She said when she was in recovery she would still wake at 5.45 am and get some work done and then rest later in the morning.

"When you have the flexibility to arrange your work time around your peak performance zones, make the most of it," Barlow said.

"I plan to carry this on when I'm back to full steam – work early morning from home and go into the office for the middle of the day, with the added benefit of missing peak hour traffic."

Best location

With limited capacity and frequent need for rests because of her brain injury, Barlow said she quickly figured out there were tasks she could do better at home and others she needed to be in the office for.

She said this is true for a lot of workers - regardless of health.

"There was no point going into the office if I was doing work that could be better done at home without distractions," she said.

Shannon Barlow was walking Boh when she was hit by the Land Rover. Photo / Supplied
Shannon Barlow was walking Boh when she was hit by the Land Rover. Photo / Supplied

"I learned to compartmentalise my tasks to 'best done in the office' and 'best done at home' so my time in the office revolved around working with my team rather than independent projects."

Barlow is now working close to full time hours but said she still uses the systems she learned when she was only working part of the day.

She encouraged all job seekers and workers to figure out what "productivity hacks" worked for them.

"The things I have learned can be applied at any time - you don't have to wait for a major incident to become more productive."