As individuals and organizations take on proper physical distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have found ourselves spending more time at home for many reasons. What was once a common place to eat, sleep, and unwind, our homes also double as remote workspaces for those of us that have the option of working from home. With this significant change, we need to adapt to become more flexible with how we use our homes. We’re asking people in our community to share their work from home (WFH) spaces, routines, and coping mechanisms.
What is your profession?
I am a professional career and leadership development coach who specializes in working with emerging, mid-career and established artists, makers, artisans, designers and entrepreneurs with arts-based businesses. When clients initially reach out, they are often feeling stuck, struggling to prioritize and focus, or lacking clarity or confidence to move forward in their practice, business or career. Through coaching I help them to cut through their inner noise of self-judgement, limiting assumptions and doubts, to clarify their vision and identify meaningful goals and specific action steps to help them move forward in their chosen direction.
Tell us about your workspace.
My house is tiny but I’m lucky to have a small (77 square feet) office crammed with plants and art that I use when I’m on calls with clients. The rest of the time, I’m on the living room couch or at the dining room table. When the weather is warm, I set up on my back deck.
What are some important aspects of your WFH space?
I’m a very visual person, so I am always careful to position myself with art in the background during Zoom calls and workshops! I also tend to highlight art to bring coaching questions and perspectives to my social media posts, always crediting and tagging the artist/maker. This has challenged me to get creative with how I connect with and share pieces in my own home during lockdowns! My partner Michael and I have collected art and objects over the years including quite a few pieces that we’ve purchased from DesignTO and Come Up to My Room participants and many artists I have worked with during my past tenures as Exhibitions Director, then Strategic Projects Manager, at the Gladstone Hotel, and Program Director at Workman Arts.
Do you have a WFH routine?
I have always been a morning person. My partner and I are up having coffee by 6am. I generally don’t check email before 8 or 9. I catch up on the news, hang out with our cat Princess Mini, have breakfast and then I do yoga. (I’m a big Yoga with Adriene fan). In warm weather we ride our bikes along the lakefront. I usually “get to work” around 9/9:30 unless I have an earlier client booking. When I’m not on the phone or Zoom with clients, I’m working on developing workshops, outreach, social media and general admin. My workday usually ends between 4 and 5. I must say I’ve become a bit obsessed with routines and rituals during this time. My favourite ritual is poached egg day every Wednesday. This is something I started doing a couple of years ago when my partner and I were commuting to work IRL instead of virtually. It became a little ritual to mark Wednesdays as the midpoint in our week. In the early months of the pandemic, I realized we’d kept it up and poached egg day was grounding us and helping to maintain some sense of normalcy. It’s a joyful little part of the rhythm of our lives week to week.
Do you have any WFH coping tips?
I highly recommend taking breaks where you move your body. I take breaks for micro walks (zig-zagging through 2-3 blocks) to clear my head and re-set between clients or before or after lunch. At the end of the day, no matter what, I put on my coat and walk for 30-40 minutes. I call it my commute home. I often say to my partner: “I’m leaving work; I’ll be home in half an hour.” He usually has a glass of wine waiting for me when I get home from my commute.
When times are tough, gratitude is an integral part of keeping balanced. What are the things you are grateful for?
Having grown up in a design-based family business, I feel grateful that I learned how to set boundaries and developed strategies to ensure that I could departmentalize and balance work, family and personal time from a young age. (My parents started a retail and importing business when I was 14, and I joined them working in product development, sales and marketing through my 20s and 30s.) This has served me well in my career beyond the family business and especially as I am now self-employed, working from home during this pandemic!
I am also so grateful that I have the privilege to work with such a diverse and talented community of creative people. As much as I’m providing support to my clients, being consistently engaged in meaningful and impactful conversations has also kept me going through this challenging time.
I am especially grateful that I live with someone I love, and whose company I enjoy, and that our children have remained safe and employed during all of this.
Sending and receiving love right now is important. How are you expressing your love for the people in your life?
My partner and I both love to cook and entertain. We frequently deliver homemade meals and treats to our three adult children and friends. We also have an outdoor heater and electric blankets to host two guests at a time on our back deck. When that’s not possible we do Zoom drinks or dinners to stay connected and support people in our lives.
*Are you working from home? Want to share your WFH space, routine, or coping mechanism? We’d love to hear from you.