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.
Michael R. Madjus
What is your profession?
Tell us about your workspace.
My primary work space is in my lounge/study. I share a house with my roommate and we are very fortunate to have our own studies, although we sometimes work in the other parts of the house to get a change of scenery, such as the living room or the front porch when it is warm enough.
What are some important aspects of your WFH space?
The ability to focus on the task is key, although more difficult these days, so having a dedicated space separate from the rest of the house is quite a privilege. Aside from dedicated space, it’s important for me to have things accessible, so most of the items I usually need are in and around my desk, from past editions of DesignTO Festival guides to hard drives to writing implements and hand cream (for when my hands get particularly dry from all the handwashing). The most important thing about my workspace, albeit not exactly necessary, is my television. No, I’m not watching TV while I work, but it really comes in handy as a second monitor. The resolution isn’t great, but it does the job.
Aside from the functional, my workspace is next to the front window, which can be good for letting in natural light, but bad at keeping me focused because I can get distracted by the goings-on of the outside world.
Another thing that is important about my workspace is my ‘STAY HOME : FLATTEN THE CURVE’ cyanotype print by Toronto-based artist Leila Fatemi. It reminds me that this is not for nothing. We are all in our homes for the greater good of society, and to prevent our hospitals from going over capacity
Do you have a WFH routine or tips?
Working from home isn’t new for me. Working from home during a pandemic? Now that’s not something I’m used to. That said, I try to maintain some regularity with my schedule. I am sleeping-in more these days, but that’s mainly due to my travel time being cut down to zero. Because I have multiple jobs, I’ve maintained the same scheduled “in-office” days for both DesignTO and the College, which makes it easy for my co-workers to know when I’m working on what.
If I know I have to get specific things done, I will treat my days like a school timetable and assign certain projects to certain blocks of time. That way, I’m not going down a rabbit hole on one project while another sits there like the kid you forgot to pick up from daycare.
Do you have any WFH coping tips?
Because I’m home all the time, I could also be working all the time, which would not be good for my mental health or the people I live with. For me, it’s important to separate my home life from my work life so I try to maintain “office hours” and am usually working from 10am to 6-7pm. I think it’s important to remember that yes many of us are working from home, but we’re also in our homes, trying to work through a pandemic, so my biggest tip is to be kind to yourself. If you’re not feeling particularly motivated, or you didn’t get everything you wanted done, it’s OK. I know a lot of people are feeling guilty for complaining about how difficult it is to work while their friends and family have lost their jobs. We have to remember that we’re not all in the same position. In a crisis we all process things differently.
When times are tough, gratitude is an integral part of keeping balanced. What are the things you are grateful for?
I’m grateful for my friends and family, although we cannot be together physically. I’m grateful for technology, and our ability to connect whilst apart. I’m also grateful for my space. Choosing to live “north of Bloor” was a decision my friends were not keen on, but during this crisis, I’m grateful that I have not only the space inside our home, but also outdoor space which I will be taking advantage of when the weather gets better.
Sending and receiving love right now is important. How are you expressing your love for the people in your life?
I’ve been reaching out to my friends and family, setting up video chats, phone calls, and virtual game or video hangs. I’m lucky enough not to be alone during this pandemic, but there are many other people in my life that are fairly isolated, so checking-in on those individuals is crucial.
*Are you working from home? Want to share your WFH space, routine, or coping mechanism? We’d love to hear from you.