I have been working from home, writing, editing, wiping little bums and snorty noses for almost four years now. While I’ve had a tremendously fulfilling time — my payment has been lots of tiny baby bear hugs and the sweetest ‘love yous’ — I’ve also experienced some hair-pulling emotional and mental distress.
There are days when I’d just drive to Java just to see other grow-ups and not have to speak baby-language for an hour. There were days when my ‘office’ walls were beginning to talk back to my thoughts. You know you need a break when you start to miss the lizard that passes by on its way from State House.
I haven’t pulled my hair out (yet). After a couple of years, I can tell you a few things that have made me productive and sane working from home.
Now you know what we do all day
I’m elated that no one will ever again ask stay-at-home moms what we do home all day. After the circus that has been zoom meetings, google meet video conferences, and click-meetings, you now have a clear picture. Nothing much has changed for me in this quarantine season, I was already quarantined and kinda loving it.
It’s day 64 of working from home, but who’s counting. A few things have changed. Week one was pure comedy, with the boss requiring you to sign in every day at 8AM in your suit and your day’s goals. We all know you’d wake up at 7:57 AM and wash your face in a hurry. You’d then wear your best shirt and sit in front of your laptop camera looking like Einstein about to discover E=MC². With no bottoms.
By the second week, it wasn’t funny anymore. Your room was beginning to feel like an elevator whose door won’t open. And then someone released a stink bomb. You miss Wendy from work and her donuts. Of course, you miss the donuts more but you will not admit that even under oath on a stack of bibles.
By the third week, you were missing the matatu rides. The ones you cursed every morning as you stood in the biting Kasarani cold waiting for another Paradiso to come by. You miss your chair and your bathroom breaks that were really an excuse to go laugh at another meme as your brains cooled off. You even miss the cactus on the boss’s table that was dying. Dude killed a cactus!
You’re now scratching your head that hasn’t seen a barber in almost two months. Wifey has been dialed back to factory settings and you’re not sure whose house you’re living in right now. “That woman looks strange, do I know her?”
You’re wondering loudly how those who work from home survive. It’s barely three weeks and it feels like you’re prisoner number 46664.
How to make the best of working from home
It’s been one helluva show. We can now agree that working from home is hard. But it doesn’t have to be. It can real fun and fulfilling, actually.
You’re not locked at home, you’re safe at home
Change your attitude. A change in attitude can do wonders for your peace and productivity. Try looking at this with positive lenses.
Staying home is a privilege, it shows you have a home and you have the choice to stay safe. And you have an employer willing to pay you to work from the comfort of your duvet. Some people don’t, they have to wake up, leave their loved ones, and wade through a world teeming with a relentless virus.
Don’t be such a ninny. Working from home may be the one thing that keeping you from breathing through a ventilator, appreciate it, and give your best.
Get an ‘office’
Having a designated working space motivates you to be more productive. It also tells the other members of the house not to disturb you, the serious mode has been activated.
If you have toddlers, I wish you luck, you’ll need it. And you also need to put the mama or papa bear hat off and go turbo mode on ninja mom — deaf ninja mom. You may have to work while a two-year-old knocks your office door down with blows and kicks.
Choose a place that will be quiet and have less traffic. No, the kitchen might now be the best office space.
The temptation to work from your bed in your PJ’s is real. But blankets are laced with invisible sleeping pills. The moment you have logged on and Oscar the Operations manager has seen you’re on, you’ll be tempted to go catch a minute of shut-eye.
You may end up waking up to 17 missed calls from Collins the Creative Director.
Keep your phone away, off or offline
Marvin the IT manager is not breathing down your neck and checking if you’re on your phone. So, you think you can finally be on phone laughing at memes and checking every notification that gets in.
If you want to be productive, you have to divorce your phone for some hours of the day. You can decide to check your social media notifications at a specific time of the day and then keep the phone away. Time grows wings when we’re on social media. You’ll be scrolling through Flaqo’s mama Otis videos and before you know it, it’s 2PM!
Memes are good, but they don’t pay. Unless it’s your job to make them. And even then, I don’t know if they pay still.
Have a to-do list
A to-do list keeps you focused in this multiple tabs era. If you don’t have your day well planned out, you’ll be very busy, only to come to the end of the day and realize there’s a lot you were supposed to do that you actually didn’t do.
Type your goals on your computer’s sticky notes and keep referring to it when you’re tempted to add Netflix to your tabs.
Take a break
There are days I stay in the ‘office’ and before I know it, the crickets are singing. And those are the days I have all possible pains on parts of my body that were not even on the biology class wall hanging. Needless to say, I’m usually not very productive the following day.
Once or twice, wake up and stretch. Go get some water or try singing on the balcony like the Italians. There are very slim chances that someone else will join you but you will have cleared your head for the next zoom meeting.
Grab a bite or make a cup of KKKahawa number 1. We will fatten the belly curve later.
Exercise and stay healthy
Make regular exercise part of your day’s routine. Do simple exercise at home if you’re not able to run outside. A simple dance routine, skipping a rope, or a work-out video in your living room is enough to get your blood pumping well.
When the endorphins are flowing, you’ll have a more productive time in the ‘office’.
You may be three steps away from the kitchen but that doesn’t mean you can make a Spanish omelet at 3:27PM. Ok, maybe you can but don’t make it a habit.
Eating healthy keeps you energized, reducing the urge to keep going to the kitchen for a bite. Eat healthy snacks like nuts. Don’t forget the good old apples. An apple a day keeps the doctor away — unless the doctor is cute, then you can forget the apples ;).
This might be the new normal for all we know. If it’s not, make the most of it and enjoy it while it lasts. We may be back to the rat race soon and you’ll be reminiscing back at this moment.