Quarantine Diaries—Volume 10

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

We’ve been 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 updating 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.

Maggie Waymark, Edelman (above)

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? We have three little girls and two full-time working parents at home right now, so to say the first couple of weeks was madness would be a gross understatement. Over time, my husband and I have found a way to switch in and out with the girls, which means that I’ve become a lot better at setting boundaries and communicating expectations with my “working hours.” I really plan on keeping that going when we get back to normal.

Any bad habits? I really wish I was taking more time for my physical fitness. I’ve put other needs ahead of my own and am not prioritizing. Ugh, the guilt of that is kind of consuming.

Favourite quarantine meal? Is it just me, or do carbs seem to make this whole experience a lot happier? I’ve been making an embarrassing amount of stovetop stuffing.

Thing you miss most about the office… Of course, I miss the people and the ability to talk through opportunities and challenges as they come. But what I really miss is my drive into the office. I get a ton of inspiration from the radio, listening to podcasts and chatting on the phone. I also long for the alone time being in my car gave me every day (see above, no alone time these days!).

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? I’ll be honest, there’s no adult reading happening in this house right now. My focus is on home schooling. I did get the chance to listen to my seven-year-old read Ivy and Bean [and] I didn’t hate it. Those two are always getting in trouble.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? Survivor is my favourite show of all time and we’re in the middle of the best season ever. Yes, people still watch Survivor, and yes Boston Rob is still on the show! We have a group of people at the office who watch religiously, and we live-chat every week. It’s a really great way to keep us connected and focusing on non-work fun.

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? My husband and I just found Amazon Music. We’ve kept it light and love to have “Music to Make You Smile” playlists on during the day. Making the decision to switch off the news and put on some happy, uplifting music really changed the tone of our house. Another good habit I hope to keep going in the new world.

Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… I hope that I look back on this experience positively. Our family has been pretty lucky to keep two full-time jobs that we love. I am really trying to stay in the moment and celebrate that fact that I get to spend this time with my kids. They drive me crazy, don’t get me wrong, but reading with them, singing with them, playing with them is really a blessing that I shouldn’t wish away.

Any technology challenges/triumphs? Huge Microsoft Teams lover. Our team wouldn’t be functioning as well without it. Glad I embraced it.

Katie Waterman, Sister Merci

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? I’d say we’re faring pretty well as a team since we started working remotely about six years weeks ago. No matter how we feel (or look) we’ve been diligent with hosting daily kickoff meetings over a Slack video call every morning. It gives us the chance to come together before we start work for the day and just check-in to see how everyone is managing. Every Friday at 4 p.m. we have a virtual drink (or toke) and just spend some time together before we break for the weekend.

Any bad habits? See below re: Favourite quarantine meal #ashamed.

Favourite quarantine meal? I have turned into a cinnamon bun monster. I don’t usually have a crazy sweet tooth, but for some reason, my craving for those sticky rolls has been insatiable. My gateway bun was the standard Pillsbury tubed cinnamon rolls (hot take: the “Flaky” version is the best) but I’ve descended into full-on addiction with the sweet, spicy buns at Tori’s Bakeshop (now offering delivery — even across the city to the west end). I ordered the raw dough option because I enjoy “baking things myself.” I even sent an order to my colleague Paul Lawton, because that’s what nice co-workers do during quarantine, right?

Thing you miss most about the office… My colleagues! Working from home definitely isn’t the same. We’ve really made our office a home over the last year, and I really miss the feeling of opening the door every day and seeing their smiling faces. We’re a really tight-knit group so the distance has been tough.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? We’re keeping up with the Sister Merci book club while in quarantine. Right now, we’re reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast, which is definitely a topical read.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? We have a “Quarantainment” channel on Slack for recommendations on what to read, watch and listen to. I’m keeping up with a lot of the popular Netflix shows like most (I may have binge-watched all of Ozark season 3 in one day), but I definitely find comfort in re-watching some old standbys to ease the anxiety: The Simpsons, The Sopranos and of course, The Office).

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? I’ve been listening to the new Waxahatchee album Saint Cloud pretty steadily since it was released last month and loving it. Normally I go to a lot of live shows, and had quite a few tickets to concerts in March, April and May, so livestream concerts have helped fill the void. I try to support my favourite artists where I can, given most concerts have been cancelled or postponed. I’ve started a collaborative playlist with some friends of 90s/early 2000s emo bands, and we’ve almost got it up to 24 hours, so you can get a pretty good sense of what I’ll be listening to this weekend.

Advice you’d give to yourself six months from now… This whole experience has really been a practice in patience for me, and has forced me to get more comfortable with the discomfort of not knowing what’s next. I’m pretty organized and definitely a planner—so it’s been a challenging exercise to just accept that our collective situation is what it is right now and to just take this one day at a time. I’d like to remind my future self to keep practicing patience, particularly when faced with the unknown. For our team, it’s been pretty incredible to see how we’ve been able to band together and accomplish some pretty great things, even during these trying times. I think we’ll all be trying to keep the mindset of “if we can get through this, we can get through anything.”

Any technology challenges/triumphs? If all else fails, I can probably get a job as a Zoom customer service agent with the number of tutorials I’ve done over the past six weeks!

Kristi Knowles, Mother Raw

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? Absolutely! My morning routine is less frenetic and more focused. I take time for me before jumping into the day. I’ve committed to a meditation practice that’s become a powerful tool to anchor my day, I’m consistently taking my supplements, and I’m getting creative with breakfast… hello loaded smoothie bowls and avo toast! My dog Darwin is pretty happy too, because we get a long walk in before the day begins.

Any bad habits? That fermented grape water is a little too appealing once the clock clicks past 5ish. And that usually leads to animated family talk while cooking dinner, which leads to some interesting looks from my 17-year-old son Tyler. And 26-year-old Victoria, who was just recently sprung from quarantine at home following a harrowing trip back from South East Asia, is now my eager partner in corkscrew crimes.

Favourite quarantine meal? Anything with tons of veggies and a big dose of flavour. I am loving big comforting bowls of spicy green curry veggies over warm basmati rice, and happy that Victoria is now joining me in my plant-based lifestyle.

Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… I love humour and levity with purpose. WestJet always seems to nail it. Their April Fool’s Day efforts are always spot on, which we missed this year given C-19. I especially liked their 2019 #FlyerFestival piece; the whispering voice in the background is too good. I’m excited to see what they do post-COVID to rally the industry and build back confidence for the joys of travel. (See it below.)

Thing you miss most about the office… I miss our people and the vibe of the tribe. We’re a scrappy start-up and a tight team, so the energy, curiosity and spontaneous ideations stoked my creativity on a daily basis. Also, working from home while our production team is hard at work keeping up our extraordinary service levels is tough. I want to be there, but we must stick to our extremely strict safety protocols.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? Just finished The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger, former CEO of Disney. It wasn’t your typical, ‘Here’s my formula for success’ read. He is humble, personable and relatable, and did an incredible job leading through the good times and the bad.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? I am a massive fan of Jamie Oliver and watch him on the weekends while I am prepping food for the week. From his mission to make eating wholesome, and healthy, fresh foods accessible, to all of his easy-peasy delicious recipes and engaging personality… well, I think I am in love!

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? Lady Gaga all the way! “Born This Way” is a favourite that has resulted in some well-choreographed dance moves in the kitchen, and the realization that I should keep my day job.

Advice you’d give to yourself six months from now… It’s the time to be creative and learn. Remember that the ability to pivot with purpose reveals creative solutions.

Any technology challenges/triumphs? My Zoom skills are now pretty solid. And I now know that elevating my computer up on a sturdy box, about a foot away from my face, can be very forgiving. And a little post-it note stuck near the camera pinhole on my computer really helps ensure I’m making good eye-contact and not odd faces, which I have done. Live and learn. Life is an apprenticeship, and now is not the time to be overly self-critical. We are all doing our best.

Jeremy Singer, We Are Social

Have you developed any good habits about working from home? Caring a tiny, tiny bit more about consistency for daily vitamins?

Any bad habits? Eating the back-up snacks that we thought would last in our condo pantry for a while. Everyone’s thinking the same thing, don’t lie.

Favourite quarantine meal? For a quick fix, crunchy peanut butter on toast, topped with granola. But 10 times a day because we’re obviously out of whack with our meal frequency now.

Piece of advertising that can always make you laugh… Hands down, the Mentos commercials from the ’90s where the guy sits on a freshly painted bench and then decides to continue for the pinstripes. Was that ever revitalized? If not, it needs to be. The world needs more laughs. Also ’90s creative advertising doesn’t get enough credit. (See it below.)

Thing you miss most about the office… Obviously the familiar faces, the energy. But very specifically the visits to the coffee machine to fill up a cup that for some reason isn’t quite empty yet but you feel compelled to still refill it in order to stretch your legs and process an idea. Because everyone knows you do your best strategic thinking in those moments.

What books are you reading? Loving it? Hating it? I just finished Kobe Bryant’s autobiography The Mamba Mentality: How I Play. Loved it. I’m a basketball fan, so it was an intriguing lens into the mind of Kobe (RIP) and his anecdotes over the years facing up against competition. A strategy colleague just recommended The Great Mental Models Vol 1: General Thinking Concepts, so that’s my next dive.

Any TV, Netflix or streaming recommendations? I keep hearing Ozark season 3. And I’m looking forward to the new Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance.

What song best represents your current state of mind? Or what is on your quarantine playlist? “100 Years” by Five for Fighting.

Advice you’d give yourself six months from now… Invest in a pair of high-end VR goggles and try to transition your life to live in “The Rift.”

Any technology challenges/triumphs? When you have those meetings that prefer to use another video conferencing tool beside Google Hangout or Zoom. That’s when technology thresholds are tested and defined.

David Brown