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Quarantine Diaries — Volume 6

The Quarantine Diaries are an attempt to turn social distancing into a shared experience.

We’ve been sending out questionnaires asking people to tell us everything from their best working from home habit (and their worst) as well as their go-to selections for books, music and TV.

We’ve been publishing new volumes every few days, and we’ve incorporated a Spotify playlist that we’re adding to with each submission (see below).

Remember, you don’t have to be invited to share your diaries: we want to hear from all of you. Anyone interested in sharing their own diaries with us, contact either David Brown or Chris Powell.

Jamie Spears, Grey (top photo)

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? I don’t know if I’d call it “good” or simply a necessity, but I’m getting better at prioritizing what’s important and what can wait. With a one-and-a-half-year-old at home, finding a work/life balance has been as crucial as it has been challenging.

Any bad habits? Assuming every meeting in my calendar has actually been cancelled. Meetings scheduled over video conference just don’t feel like real meetings—yet.

Favourite quarantine meal? Delivery (Is that okay? Are we still doing that?).

Thing you miss most about the office… Not requiring a five-person video conference to review a social post.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, and I’m really enjoying it. But it’s weird to think that this experience is what I’ll associate with it.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? Currently working through Crashing with Pete Holmes. It’s fun and dumb and New York in the summertime so there’s zero social distancing.

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? I’ve been listening to a lot of The Wiggles thanks to my son. But when I have time, I keep coming back to Into the North Woods by Panopticon. He’s a dude from Kentucky making black metal with elements of bluegrass that’s environmentally focused… I don’t know. It’s a heavy, loud escape.

Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… Never take a normal day for granted.

Any technology challenges/triumphs? My microphone and camera now have permission across five different conferencing programs.


David Toto, Juniper Park\TBWA

Have you developed any good habits about working from home?

Any bad habits? Nibbling between video calls. I am always hungry. I’m going to weigh a ton soon.

Favourite quarantine meal? Bananas. How many can you eat in a day? (Without feeling too bad about it).

Thing you miss most about the office…Faces. Smiles. Jokes. And running around. A lot.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? Forged in Crisis: The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times by Nancy Koehn, a professor at Harvard, and my professor at Omnicom University. Brilliant.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? Marseille on Netflix. I’m a big fan (I am French, from the South of France).

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist?  “Let the Sunshine In” from Hair. Because I need a lot of sun, in my life and in my heart.

Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… Don’t forget you have a home office. A quiet and productive space. And continue to use it regularly.

Any technology challenges/triumphs? I’m happy to be 100% paperless now—notebook aside. Big, big, BIG win.


Matt McChesney, Naked Creative Consultancy

Have you developed any good habits about working from home the cottage? My mute game on Zoom is probably the best it’s ever been.

Any bad habits? It’s really hard to get into any sort of routine with two kids under five needing you every minute the laptop opens up.

Favourite quarantine meal?  I’m not the greatest in the kitchen, but I’ve been getting spoiled by my wife’s cooking. I think my favourite thus far has been either her homemade (obviously) risotto or meatloaf.

Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… The “Want to Learn English” spot that Y&R did in the early 2000s for Soesman Language Training. We had a copy of a bunch of Cannes winners on VHS and I remember watching it over and over again. If you know it, you know.

Thing you miss most about the office… The people. No brainer. At Naked, we’ve got a great group of hungry, smart and creative people who have an incredible amount of humility when it comes to the success of both Naked and our clients. We see each other at least once a day on our 10 a.m. all-agency Zoom calls, and twice on Friday with our social hour, but there’s nothing like Naked people in person.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? I literally just started Living Out Loud: Sports, Cancer and the Things Worth Fighting For. It’s the Craig Sager story. Charles Barkley did the foreword… and that’s as far as I’ve gotten. It came recommended from someone I really trust, so I’m thinking I’ll be loving it in no time. Do people keep reading books they’re hating?

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? I’m working from the cottage with cellular internet so we’re not streaming anything. I love documentaries, so here are a few of my favourites if you’re interested: Dear Zachary; Evil Genius; The Short Game; The Long Game (no connection to the previous one) and Don’t Fuck with Cats. Damn, I miss sports (Go Leafs Go!).

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? Music is on all day here. We’ve been playing a lot of Motown, Caamp and The Lumineers. After dinner dance parties are a must as well… have you guys ever heard Baby Shark?

Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… Showering is overrated.

Any technology challenges/triumphs? My wife and I are both working, and with the cellular internet we’ve gotten pretty good at not being on video conference at the same time. That seems like a triumph these days, no?


Melanie Johnston, Forsman & Bodenfors

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? I’m trying to teach myself to meditate every night before bed. Serenity now.

Any bad habits? Skipping my nightly meditation.

Favourite quarantine meal? My husband works for Campbell’s, so there’s a lot of soup and Goldfish crackers happening.

Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… Smile more than laugh, but I love this ad.


Thing you miss most about the office… Seeing people’s actual faces, and the laughter. It’s a total cliché, but also the truth—it’s the people that make it.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? Malcolm Gladwell, Talking to Strangers. So-so. I don’t think it’s one of his best.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? Fleabag, Ozark and the Maradona documentary.

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? The quarantine playlists my CCO puts together for everyone to listen to at home.

Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… Don’t forget to be grateful.

Any technology challenges/triumphs? A family of four with two kids virtually learning, and two parents on constant Zoom meetings, Google Hangouts, etc. is killing our wifi.


Yvonne Chung, Juniper Park\TBWA

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? Making a really good cup of coffee. I’ve learned how to make Vietnamese coffee at home (with condensed milk, it’s an absolute treat in the mornings). Looking back, it’s absurd how I’ve spent $2 on a daily cup.

Any bad habits? Blurred line between work and home. Work is home and home is work: am I working from home or homing from work?

Jokes aside, I’m learning from my mentors at work to set clear boundaries. A good trick is to still dress up for work, then put those pjs back on when you are off!

Favourite quarantine meal? Comfort stews! Beef stews, pork bone stews—I’m all about low effort, high-reward meals to make for the work week. I cook a big pot of it with my slow cooker during meal prep Sundays.

Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… The 2018 Super Bowl Tide ad with David Harbour.

Thing you miss most about the office… Finding a great meme/gif/TikTok and randomly stopping by someone’s desk to ask for their attention and interrupt their workflow to share hilarious content. It’s just not the same when you send through DMs…

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? Wow, no thank you by Samantha Irby. It’s unapologetically raw, incredibly witty, and she’s just a great observer of life.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? I’ve been watching Tiger King with my friends on Netflix Party. It’s a train wreck that I can’t stop watching, and I believe it’s what’s uniting us all in these challenging times. The memes from the show are a gift that keeps on giving. Also, feel-good shows! My current favourite is The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Prime.

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? I’m playing chill pop tracks all day to beat this quarantine mood. Current top hit: Any Song by Zico (absolute K-pop banger), and artists on repeat include Rex Orange County, Benee, Honne.

Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… Hey Yvonne, you’re always complaining about “doing the most” and “having literally no time.” Perhaps use this gift of time more productively, say:


Baron Manett, PerSe

Any bad habits about working from home? Sweatpants are now dress pants. Yes?

Favourite quarantine meal? Any and all pasta…yup, I’m pro carbs.

Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… I’ve been checking out The Incumbent Agency on Instagram.

Thing you miss most about the office… Being around talented, smart and creative people every day—the energy. It’s amazing when this is not happening. Those impromptu discussions where ideas can really develop or be discovered are exciting.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. I love history stories and non-fiction, and this book is a great telling of one of Europe’s important leaders who is very misunderstood. Great escapism that is based on historical truths. Great read.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? We loved the Baker and the Beauty on Amazon.

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist?  Here’s my current playlist: “Be Safe/Be well”. And I’ve got this song on replay a lot these days: “Save it For Later,” the English Beat song covered by Matthew Sweet and Suzanna Hoffs.

Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… Keep calm. Things will continue to change. Keep your eyes open and listen to people. Human-first thinking.

Any technology challenges/triumphs? Our team at Per Se has been set up remotely for some time. We are fortunate that we have tested our processes and are supporting all our client partners and brands. We always want to do more, but technology has been a big help. Triumphs? Our wonderful people, client partners and friends who keep us going and inspired. Thank you for all you do and that we can accomplish together.

Be well everyone. Take care.


Britt Aharoni, Vice Media Group

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? Weaned myself off Uber Eats and started cooking more. In my spare time, I’ve also been making use of the Skillshare membership Vice provides employees to take some marketing and design workshops.

Any bad habits? Honestly, no. I suspect I’m a bit of an anomaly in that I’ve taken extremely well to not leaving the house. I could easily do this for weeks on end. I’ve just got what it takes.

Favourite quarantine meal? Pasta with garlic fried tomatoes, tuna and cheese.

Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… Cole Haan released a one-minute animated film with singing sheep and alpacas to promote their new line of shoes a couple of years ago. I thought it was hysterical and sent it to everyone I knew. I think any brand that showcases animals in their advertising is genius because of the emotional pull and shareability.

Thing you miss most about the office… Workshopping my comedy to my adoring colleagues.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? I’m embarrassed to admit this, but my attention span has been warped by social media. I used to consume books within a day—it’s a lot tougher to get through one now. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is on my nightstand, though.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? Narcos Mexico, Better Call Saul, any European crime drama (I highly recommend 4 Blocks on Amazon) or Vice Studios’ Dark Side of the Ring, which you can catch on Crave!

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? The soundtrack from season two of Narcos Mexico.

Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… If I ever end up under house arrest, I can 100% handle it.

Any technology challenges/triumphs? Learning that Zoom has a “touch up my appearance” feature. Win.