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 an incredibly eclectic Spotify playlist that we’re adding to with each submission (see below).
David Kenyon, Naked Creative Consultancy (above)
Have you developed any good habits about working from home? From the very beginning I committed to not changing my alarm clock settings even though the commute is gone. Still awake at 6 a.m. Still showering and shaving every morning. The dining room table is my office and I won’t sit there until 8:45 a.m. and my day “officially” starts. I also think I’ve been surprisingly more focused. So far, I’m not suffering from the distractionitis that a lot of people are dealing with.
Any bad habits? I worry the reliance on doing everything via video/phone/chat will make it hard to get back into real face-to-face collaboration when the smoke finally clears and we can come back together.
Favourite quarantine meal? Even before quarantine, every Wednesday I would order sushi for delivery via DoorDash from To-Ne Sushi on Queen Street West. I still do it, but now when I call after I order to add extra wasabi to the order, the guy there answers the phone, “Hi David!” in a sing-songy voice. I ask him how they’re all doing and of course this is hitting them hard. So, I will keep ordering, and just spray the delivery bag with hydrogen peroxide and water…
Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… Oh man. Truly a classic: the IKEA lady and “Start the car!” Probably the best casting in a commercial ever, and the best delivery of a single line.
Thing you miss most about the office… All the free photocopying and pens. (Maybe the people.)
What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? We’ve got a “Naked Book Club” (anything we do where we stick our name in front raises eyebrows if you don’t know us, but to be clear, the book club is not clothing optional). We just finished Weather by Jenny Offill. It divided the group. I was lukewarm on it, but it’s a very short read for anyone interested. Our new pick is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It will be a doozy at 600+ pages.
Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? As a hardcore animal lover, I just can’t do Tiger King, even though it’s what everyone is talking about and the FOMO is strong. We liked McMillions, which still has crazy, unsavoury characters, just without the animal mistreatment.
What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? I don’t want to permanently taint a song I love by tying it so closely to this point in history. Before quarantine I was listening to “Sweet Virginia” by The Rolling Stones on repeat after watching the movie Knives Out and it still makes me dance around the living room.
Advice you’d give yourself six months from now? Well, we could still be doing this dance six months from now, so I would say, “Damn, man. Put down that third cookie.”
Any technology challenges/triumphs? Had never set up a Zoom call or used Slack before we quarantined, and now they feel second nature to me. And Zoom has integrated itself into my personal life now, as even my parents in Alberta have picked it up for our cross-country check-ins.
Emily Ward, Shine Influencers
Have you developed any good habits about working from home? I definitely see the benefit of having concentrated work time without the regular buzz of the office (we are in an open concept space). I’m more aware of taking care of myself right now and eating better since I have a stocked fridge near me, which is fuelling my mind and energy in a different way. I also think in a funny way my partner Jess Hunichen and I are giving more concentrated time with the team, where during a typical work week we are off to different meetings or visiting with the L.A. team, so aren’t always on every morning meeting.
Any bad habits? Not getting fully up and dressed! We do a video call with our team in the morning, which I thought would help inspire everyone to be present and ready for the day. We have all slowly slipped into our quarantine style of no makeup and cozy clothes. Saves a ton of time in the morning 😉
Favourite quarantine meal? I am missing eating out so much right now, so I am trying my best to recreate some of my favourites, like apple, cheddar and ham crepes and french toast with caramelized bananas.
Thing you miss most about the office… I love our Toronto space so much. It really feels like “us” and is a great collaborative space. I miss being able to hear the team and jump in and help throughout the day. I’m very aware of body language, so I miss being able to see some of the interactions in meetings and having this information to better be able to lead the next step.
What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? My reading right now consists of what I can inspire my six-year old to pick up and read with me.
Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? My kids and I were missing the movies, so we set up the office projector in the bedroom and have taken advantage of all the Disney+ movies. After all my cousin’s posts, I did get sucked into watching Tiger King….
What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? It’s been a lot of the Lion King soundtrack with my two kids. Maybe there’s something subliminal in there about the Circle of Life… who knows?!
Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… To remember how proud you are that the culture and structure we built with Shine could smoothly adapt and progress through this.
Any technology challenges/triumphs? Currently battling resetting an old iPad that everyone has forgotten the password to in order to help with homeschooling my two little ones in the midst of all this.
Sarah Phillips, The Garden
Have you developed any good habits about working from home? I’ve learned that walking is great thinking time for me.
Any bad habits? Too much watching and reading the news right now. But can you blame me?
Favourite quarantine meal? It’s getting warm enough to fire up our smoker. We’re going to smoke a turkey breast and make club sandwiches tonight. We’re feeling pretty lucky that we have both the cooking skills and the financial security to be able to eat the way we are as we go through this collective nightmare.
Thing you miss most about the office… My friends who always make me laugh and make the day at work an enjoyable one, no matter what.
What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? I love books so much, but just can’t read at the moment. Big ups to anyone who can focus and sit still long enough to read a book right now. Maybe next week.
Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? High Fidelity, starring Zoe Kravitz on Crave is a treat. Nostalgic, cool and very emo.
What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? Channel Tres released a playlist with funk and soul and house music that feels oh so right. It’s called “tres in ya life.”
Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… Please don’t just mindlessly speed back up again. Rest is as important as productivity. No, it’s more important.
Ahmad Ktaech, MediaProfile
Have you developed any good habits about working from home? Yes! Meticulously sticking to a home workout regimen. Also, cooking almost 90% of every meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Any bad habits? I’ve got two. The first one is impulsively buying way too much beer from my local breweries for fear of missing out. Literally. The second one is making the entire house one big office space.
Favourite quarantine meal? Curry egg salad sandwich with sumac, zaatar and pickles.
Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… Never Say No to Panda campaign for Panda Cheese. It’s the creative genius of Cairo-based agency Advantage Marketing, in collaboration with Elephant Cairo. It’s one of the funniest things you’ll ever see:
Thing you miss most about the office… People. Hands down, my colleagues and co-workers.
What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? I’m reading two books that I’m loving. The first one is Eating the Sun: Small Musings on a Vast Universe by Ella Frances Sanders, and it’s a wonderful collection of short stories that are also illustrated by the author. The book is an exploration of the principles, laws, and wonders that rule our universe, our world, and our daily lives.
The second book I’m reading (for the third time so it should tell you my sentiment towards it) is Andre Alexis’ novel Days by Moonlight. It’s a work of fiction that gets us to ask ourselves: how do we know the things we know are real?
Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? Hip Hop Evolution, Brooklyn 99 and Patriot Act.
What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist?
- Monday: C.R.E.A.M. – Wu-Tang
- Tuesday: Ooh La La – Run The Jewels
- Wednesday: Valerie – Amy Winehouse
- Thursday: Til the Money Runs Out – !!! (chk chk chk)
- Friday: Broken Finger Blues – Richard Swift
- Saturday: Girl Blunt – Leikeli47
- Sunday: Fall In Love – Slum Village
Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… Be more grateful, reflective and deliberate.
Katie Connacher, Juniper Park\TBWA
Have you developed any good habits about working from home? Calling my grandparents more.
Any bad habits? Not setting boundaries on “working hours,” and thinking that late meetings are normal.
Favourite quarantine meal? Bread. I’ve become a bread making connoisseur.
Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… “#BusterTheBoxer” the John Lewis 2016 Christmas ad. Brilliant.
Thing you miss most about the office… The people. I miss the camaraderie, and not having to set up a meeting to see each other.
Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? Ozark season three. It just came out at the perfect time. I also recommend watching Ice Age.
What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? Send Me On My Way, Rusted Root.
Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… Keep checking in on your family and friends.
Any technology challenges/triumphs? Mastering the mute button.
Matt Foulk, Sid Lee
Have you developed any good habits about working from home? Scheduling specific times to check the news and social media, rather than “snacking” on them throughout the day.
Any bad habits? The cookie jar is way too accessible.
What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? Candide by Voltaire. A line from it came up in one of the COVID news articles I was reading. It’s been enjoyable re-reading my well-thumbed school paperback, lots of relevance.
Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? Living with Yourself on Netflix, featuring Paul Rudd. We only just started watching it but I’m already finding it hilariously ridiculous. And of course Tiger King.
Any technology challenges/triumphs? I’m having (perhaps too much) fun changing my Zoom virtual background each day. Killer sharks, Indiana Jones…
Mike Leslie, Full Punch
Have you developed any good habits about working from home? Lunch. For two reasons: One, for having it regularly. And two, we’ve had family lunch every day, which has been great. While my commute was only a 20-minute walk to the office, saving even that time has helped. And there seems to be a more widely accepted, “lets all stop work at 5 p.m.” mentality—it seems like it’s harder to get stuck at the office. So, we’ve been taking advantage of that for some more family time. Generally, the work-life balance seems to be improving.
Any bad habits? Dress code. Our industry can be casual, to begin with, but it’s easy to slide when at home. When I need to be on camera, I’ve taken a very news anchor approach: keeping it business from the waist up while it’s shorts and bare feet on the lower half.
Favourite quarantine meal? Lots of homemade food that we would rarely have the time to make under “normal” circumstances. Frittata in the morning, homemade pizza, and those sorts of things. It’s been delicious. And, as always, tacos.
Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… The Skittles work has been great. Love the Piñata Man. But the slightly off-natured humour of Kevin Bacon’s impersonation of Kevin Bacon in the spot for Google TV is marvellous and always puts a smile on my face.
Thing you miss most about the office… Definitely the people and camaraderie they all bring.
What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? 2020 has been a good book year for me so far. Everyone in marketing should read Lemon. The insights are now more true than ever, and we need to get back to focusing on using our great creativity that moves people. And I just finished Clock Work, which is a must-read for any business owner but also has some great tips for any manager or someone running a department.
Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? My nine-year-old daughter has us binge watching re-runs of Modern Family.
What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? I’m not sure if I can explain why, but Tame Impala’s Lost in Yesterday is in heavy rotation right now, and it makes me happy every time it comes on.
Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… To remember what was making these times enjoyable. People cheering for the front-line workers at 7 p.m every night in Vancouver, extra time with family, and that it’s okay to work from home. Wash your hands. I was awful at washing my hands before this.
Stuart Thursby, Stack Creative
Have you developed any good habits about working from home? Shaving a couple of hours off the day that were formerly spent commuting has been great for actually cooking more varied meals on weeknights. Fish! Veggies! Blue cheese burgers and homemade fries! And soon, another batch of the no-knead bread that everyone else has been baking up.
Any bad habits? The ongoing consumption of Cadbury Mini Eggs at a non-inconsequential clip
Favourite quarantine meal? Disregard the earnestness of my first answer—my favourite quarantine meal is 1,000% Mini Eggs.
Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… The “Never Say to Panda” campaign (see above).
Thing you miss most about the office… Like all of us, the people I work around! Although I’m happy to report that my extroverted self has adapted to five-day-a-week WFH easier than I thought, and my team were all set up on Slack from day one, so that part’s been seamless… It’s the evenings/weekends that still feel the most bizarre.
What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? Just started The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan. What better time than now to dive into historical epics?
Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? The John Wick series. I mean, sure, everybody loves the Successions and Brooklyn 99s of the world—and rightfully so. But Keanu Reeves with a few stylish bones to pick is just the right mix of action, cinematography, suave suits, and bonkers currency valuations that we all need a little more of right now.
What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? At the Door by The Strokes has been a recent fav. Although it’s not exactly a chipper pick-me-upper, if you read the lyrics.
Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… Maybe cut down slightly on the Mini Eggs.
Any technology challenges/triumphs? Seeing just how inside the inside-jokes can get in terms of virtual Zoom backgrounds now that we’re all spending 912,316,213,667 hours per week on video chats.