The Art of Distance: COVID-19 Edition

Updated: Apr 29

To MLA 1 & 2 students who are switching to working remotely - this could mean going from having little structure in your day to having almost no inherent structure in your day. Learning to work remotely requires a form of self-leadership, but the good news is that you can learn. The point is to keep track of what is working for you and what is not. While this may feel new and there may be struggles, the skills you gain during this time will be incredibly valuable to your future careers.

Stray Observation: With all the time spent at home, I’m very aware of my neighbors, for better (the kid across the street airing her stuffed animals by letting them down from the window on strings) and for worse (the man upstairs playing music that makes our ceiling shake). These happenings remind me to set down the observations of the world honestly, precisely and completely - however physically small that the world feels - to find the inevitable story in it.


Below are some tips and tricks to think about, as we navigate the story that is COVID-19:


  • Top priority is to stabilise and control your immediate home environment. Ensure your pantry has sensible supplies. Clean your house. Make a coordinated family plan. Feeling secure about your own emergency preparedness will free up mental space.

  • Give yourself a proper mental adjustment window. The first few days in a disaster zone are always a write-off. But if you give yourself that essential window, your body and mind WILL adjust to the new normal.

  • AFTER you experience the mental shift, build a schedule. Make a routine. Put it on a weekly calendar with time blocks. Wake up early. Put the most important parts first: food, family, fitness. Priority 1 is a stable home. Then add windows for achievable work goals.

  • Daily lists fails before it even starts? Don't beat yourself up. Try the Pomodoro Technique!

  • Tick off accomplishments, no matter how small.

  • Experiment with different motivational strategies (treat yourself to those cookies).

  • Don't go it alone - check in with your mates at least once a day and form Group chats.

  • Stretch your limbs and get fresh air if you can. Going for a walk or run might be possible if you avoid busy streets or parks. If you are stuck inside, try yoga, tai chi, guided meditation, or an exercise routine.

  • I’ve been taking solace in art during this time. I’m not going to preach to you about being productive during quarantine and learning a new skill. By all means, take this moment to luxuriate in doing absolutely nothing. But, for me, starting my day drawing rather than immediately plugging my brain into a firehouse of information has been a mindsaver. 

  • Nobody reads enough these days. What better way to take advantage of long hours stuck at home than to read a good classic. If you're pining for landscape-related reads, we have recommended loads of books on Moodle. Have a look and make up for lost time.

  • Love thy neighbour. Help others if you can: think about lonely, elderly or isolated people in your street or building and see if you can do something to help them - of course, without putting them at risk.

  • Watch the jellyfish cam live from the Monterey Aquarium online.

  • Organise calls to chat with professionals in Landscape Architecture, Urban Design, and Planning fields via LinkedIn. Use this time to connect for market info and CV advice.

  • This phenomenon should change how we understand the world. So let this distract you from your work. Because the world is supposed to be our work. May this crisis dismantle all our faulty assumptions and force us into new terrain.

© 2018 by RE:ALM x SoLA

Manchester School of Architecture

Manchester Metropolitan University

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