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10 Tips on How to Work from Home in Nigeria

This is my first post this year and to my readers I apologize. I apologize because it took a threat from one of you to come here.
Its been hectic - Getting adjusted to 'After-The-Wedding' life and new working environment and all that. Although someone will say that working from home isn't a new environment but believe me, it is.
I spent Primary 5 and 6 and all of my Secondary school education as a Boarding student. My Mum usually had to resort to threats to get me to come home when I was in the University, so for me it is a new environment.

The daily routine is ...different because I spend more time working unconsciously. Normal working hours are 8 to 5, but I find myself working longer because I never really leave work. I didnt really see it in this light until my mother came visiting.
"What is your husband having for breakfast?" she would ask, to which I would just point to the fridge.
"What will your husband eat when he returns?" my Mum would ask, to which I would just nod my head. After he left, she gave me THE talk.

I know Nigeria is going to start adopting the work-from-home methods of conducting business so I have a few pointers for the employees that might start jumping up and down if they ever find themselves in such a position [and also for those that envy the home-workers]:

1. Work Area: You need to set a particular area for work and work alone. I learnt this the hard way - first I worked on the dining table, because I felt the study was too 'serious' for me. Then I progressed to the living room carpet with a cushioning pillow under my chest. Then I ended up in the bedroom, but I was still not so comfy until I found myself in the Study. That was the best place for me to work because it was made for work. You need an environment that sets you up in 'Work Mode', that will not let you stray and that you can consciously leave after work hours.

2. Ground Rules: You need to lay some ground rules, and I am not talking about rules for the children. You need those rules for yourself - YES YOU! You need to decide what you will be attending to when you re within work hours and what you can term an emergency. For me I thank God my husband loves Cereal for Breakfast, so its easy to set up his meal before I resume online. After he leaves for work, the only emergency that can get me up from my desk is if the gate is burning. I keep my breakfast within reach so when I get hungry I wont have to stray far. I don't have kids yet, but I am sure most parents can sort out how to keep the kids away.

3. Distraction: This leads to distractions - try to keep them at a bare minimum. For me I keep the TV off, and the Radio, I'm so quiet that my neighbors usually don't even know when I'm in the house. I also stay away from the kitchen and snacks - working from home is one of the fastest ways to gain weight because you are almost always sitting down, and its worse when you keeps snacks around you and just eat and eat and eat. You have to fight the urge to eat junk even more if you work from home.

4. Exercise: Because you sit all through and hardly leave the house, your body will retain everything it takes in because there is no activity to use to burn it out. You have to find a way to stay active. After closing, I go for 30 minute walks that are sometimes brisk, sometimes slow. It gives me time to also think and plan, especially when there is a hard nut to crack on my work-table. You can also do some exercise while working - stand up for a few minutes and len over the table. Walk around the room. Stretch. Go to the front door and return. It will keep your blood flowing.

5. Electricity and Internet: To work efficiently you have to make sure that these two are available to you all the time. The Office wont want to hear excuses like 'NEPA took the light', or 'My Internet finished'. No, they just want you to deliver, and they already feel they are pampering you by letting you work from home anyway so, you have to go out of yourway to ensure that the two are available. For me I have Starcomms internet, and use MTN as backup. I have an inverter that can last up to 5 hours and we just bought a generator recently [#lightupnigeria already!].

6. Follow-up: Whatever you're working on, you have to keep up the communication. Whether its through Yahoo Messenger, or Skype, you must be visible to the office people. What I did was to create a group for office members and every morning I log on and become visible to them during work hours. It is essential that they know that you are working as well. Even when I am mobile, I try to stay online via mobile messenger.

7. Breaktime: Do not joke with your lunch/break time. You need that one hour to do other pressing things like washing the dinner plates from last night, finishing up laying the bed that you started before you resumed work, or grabbing that bite of food. At the same time do not extend the time. Let your system get used to only one hour of freedom before getting back to work.

8. Food: Watch what you eat for lunch. I am talking as a proper Nigerian babe now - don't go and be eating Garri and leftover afang soup, or pounded yam and oha soup o! You will just sleep off for the rest of the day - and that is the truth! Eat light - pretend you are at work physically, would you have packed that pounded yam to work? Would you have eaten it right in the canteen? Seriously? I prefer rice [and beans sometimes] for lunch, and I can even call it breakfast because I do not normally eat before noon. Anything that will take more than one hour to cook AND eat is off your list.

9. Call Base: Even though they can see your mails and messages online at work, it is necessary for you to call the office, at least once  week. This is essential for out of town home-workers like me, who cannot pop into the office anytime. This will keep the memory of you fresh in their minds [especially the accountant who handles the salary].

10. Family : Last of all but not the least, please do NOT neglect your family o! Close on time! Now you have the grace to close on the dot of 5pm! Do not extend work any longer than necessary. Give your family the quality time they deserve.
So its been six months and I finally can balance it all well - I should think so!

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