Kitten, Netflix, wine, spouses...How to work with these distractions

Twidley Ithiga
Twidley Ithiga a director and principal at Jawabu School. PHOTO | COURTESY 

We have always dreamt of the day we will be working from home, at least a few of us. We have imagined how awesome it would be to sit down with a strong ‘cuppa’, on a comfortable study table, away from the hectic office.

At the beginning of the stay-at-home orders, it was exciting. But as the days go by, we’ve found that between children, Netflix, glasses of wine, and the bed, productivity is hard to achieve. So, how do we redeem ourselves and deliver while at home since we don’t know when the crisis will end?

Brenda Nyawara, an architect at Arcscene Architects admits that it is not easy to be productive at home.

“I’m often distracted by my kitten (which has since run away) and the ever-enticing Internet. I also find myself spending too much time cooking and cleaning while I should be seated working," she says.

To beat these distractions, she has had to adapt to a routine that ensures she completes her daily tasks.


“I still wake up at 6.30 am as I did while going to work and settle down to work at 8.30 am. I choose to remain accountable because when interviewing for the job, I mentioned that I can work without supervision. This is the real test,” she says.

Brenda’s work entails designing and inspecting architectural projects. With the pandemic slowing down the construction industry, she has changed how she works.

“I spend six hours a day designing virtually.”

Communication with workmates is mostly done through Slack, e-mail, and virtual cloud workspaces such as BIMCloud, which allows real-time collaboration between colleagues working remotely. Although it helps, it is not the same as having colleagues beside her whom she can bounce off ideas.

In the evening, she winds down by shooting and editing commentary videos for her YouTube Channel called Brenda Nyawara.

“These are musings that captured my eye while surfing the Internet,” she says.

Miss interaction

While working from home is an option Brenda would consider post-Covid-19, it would be a hard sell for Twidley Ithiga, a director and principal of Jawabu School.

“I love being around children, helping them grow in sound Christian doctrine as well as modeling good behaviour. I’ve missed their noise, opinions, laughter, and most importantly their warmth. I would, therefore, prefer to be physical with them,” she says.

Schools being closed has made them re-think their strategy.

“Online learning has allowed us to continue teaching but activities such as interactive sports and robotics can’t be replicated. It also doesn't allow teachers the opportunity to gauge pupil's non-verbal responses which are critical in learning,” says the mother of two, aged 5 and 8.

Children add a different dynamic to working from home. Twidley says set a schedule together with them and be disciplined in following it.

“Children thrive where there is consistency, order, and predictability. You'll work better,” she says.

Consultants have not been left unscathed. Stanley Gichobi, a Mombasa-based consultant at Global Development Incubator, has changed his workday from a typical nine-hour workday to productivity hours.

“This is essentially identifying times of the day when you’re most productive, removing distractions and focusing on work,” he says.

“This helps you achieve optimal results.”

His productive hours are early morning and late evenings. His tips for working from home?

“Be aware of your mental health. Watch out for anxieties that may manifest as procrastination, panic attacks, and share with someone you trust for support.”

As a result of working from home, Stanley has learned new things about himself and his work.

“I've discovered that I enjoy working in solitude. I ideate better and I'm more innovative,” he says.