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Working from Home

Usually, l’m excited to start the day, especially if l’m working on an exciting story or something intriguing. The fact that l work for myself from home also means discipline, breaking the day into chunk-size periods of mid-morning and evening workouts.

And that’s the beauty of working from home. I have the freedom to work while incorporating time for everything l love. Every morning l take an hour off from work to walk around, check out the birds and the chameleons that haltingly walk out of the bushes to catch the sun. I’ve got the three-horned Jackson’s chameleon in my neighbourhood.

I’ll work until lunch and during the afternoon finish off. At 5 p.m. the laptop is switched off. Or sometimes, pre-Covid days, if the afternoon sun was bright, l’d swim for an hour.

My lifestyle – or the working life – is entirely down to the age of the internet.

When it hit the scene twenty years ago, it was my big moment. It gave me the freedom to ditch the daily commute in matatus to the office. I didn’t have to worry about wasting time in traffic jams or even spending money on office wear. I could work from home – or anywhere in the world – producing Komba, the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya magazine and writing my travel articles without ever having to report to the ‘office’.

Whereas friends found it challenging to work from home – and even now during the corona days, l’m in my element. When they complain of working all the time because they cannot resist the temptation of replying to ‘one more email’ before realising its midnight, l’m deep in sleep so that l can wake up fresh and early to face the day.

My Rules for Working from Home

1. Discipline

I’m usually so excited about the day that l can’t wait to start. But working from home requires discipline.

In my twenties, after some hard knocks, I learned that l was a misfit in a regular office. I work best in my personal space. I write between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. minus three hours for the morning workout and lunch. Family, friends and kids have to respect me time as much as l respect their time.

Weekends and holidays are just that – holidays. Time for the brain and body to get away from the work table to do something else.

Work out

It’s re-energizes the mind and body. I could spend the entire day in front of the screen and the cellphone. But l prefer to workout at set times, something l’ve been doing since my twenties (l’m hitting 60). In my long term plan, I want to stay as fit and healthy as possible without taking to pills for stress or blood pressure.  When l workout, it’s also the time that new thoughts appear for what l am working on. When l return to the laptop, usually everything falls into place with clarity.

An orthopaedic surgeon believes that sitting for long hours is as bad as smoking. I’m not pushing weights or dripping in sweat during the mid-morning workout, l’m more like a feline, stretching and limbering up.

Plus at that time the sun is beautifully warm for the body and a great free source of Vitamin D. It’s what we need for healthy bones.

Dress Code

Keep it simple but keep is fashionably smart and happy. It works on your mood when you see yourself looking good. A T-short, pants or a simple dress. I keep my skin regime easy with just a moisturizing cream. Anybody can drop in and it’s no good looking like a dull duck when you can add a touch of glamour.

Food

Indigenous foods like terere and matoke (green bananas)

Many friends have added inches to their waistlines during these house-bound covid days giving in to the temptation of snacking on ‘just’ a piece of chocolate or some chips lying in the kitchen. I’ve heard this too oft now: “I don’t eat anything the whole day, but l’ve put on so much weight.” Body weight is an equation: food that goes in and food burned as energy. Any excess is fat.

Keep it simple but healthy. High fibre foods like vegetables and fruits fill you faster and they are low on calories. Drink water – it’s calorie free but super healthy. Treat yourself once in a while. And train yourself not to snack. Your body will love you for that.    

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Nairobi National Park 4-June-2020-l-r-Jagi Gakunju, Rupi Mangat and Sidney Shema. Copyright Rupi Mangat

I keep it minimal. It has its uses but l don’t want to live a virtual life. I want a real life, talk to real people and l’m okay with just looking at the sky. You might just see something you’ve never seen before.

And tomorrow’s another day. Give it your best. Live it in the present.

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