Our lives during the COVID-19 pandemic

2020 was definitely a strange year. It felt shorter than ever. With vaccines becoming available in more countries, I am hoping that there is a better future for us. Also, that we can meet in real person for next year’s ISMIR.

Since we were not able to see each other for the last year ISMIR, I wanted to share our community members’ 2020 story by conducting a survey with questions related to work, hobbies and general lifestyle. A total of 62 people have responded (thank you!) and I would like to share some results.


Majority of people did like working from home! 

But online meetings, not so much…We like talking to real people. 

More than 50% of people said they were less productive last year. Don’t feel bad if you feel like you didn’t achieve much! If you managed to stay healthy last year, that is the biggest achievement.

I asked the members to share one good thing about working from home. In terms of work impacts, people reported less distraction; a more flexible schedule and efficient work – “I can do things with my own rhythm”, “No need to go to the office (which means saving time, and also less environmental impact)“; and more equality between remote and “local” employees. Respondents also reported positive outcomes for family life (e.g., “Being able to see my daughter throughout the day”). Finally, working from home was perceived as positive in its integration with home life – for instance in terms of food (e.g., “No need to eat on the road.” “Eating better food”) and a comfortable work environment (e.g., “Comfortable couch”, “Could listen to music without headphones”) – as well as lifestyle: “Fitting exercise, cooking, and music practice into my day”, “Can play with my dog”, “Not having to wear pants ;)”, “Wearing pajamas all day :D”.


It seems like many of us were able to put more time into our hobbies. Same goes for me! 

Also, quite a lot of people found new hobbies. 

Our members shared some of their hobbies. As music lovers, there were many hobbies related to music: making music, playing instruments, jamming online, singing, DJing, hosting radio shows and learning music. In fact,  71% of us listened to more music compared to last year! I assume there is a correlation with COVID-19 situation. Plus, there were lots of physical activities, such as running, cycling and yoga. Some of us enjoyed baking, cooking and even brewing kombucha! Meditating, knitting, drawing, reading and gardening also were mentioned several times. 


Staying healthy mentally and physically seem to be the greatest challenge these days. I personally had to consciously remind myself to move and stay calm. It definitely wasn’t easy. I think I managed to find some balance finally in December.

With increased time at home, I personally learned a lot about myself. It gave me time to reflect on my life once again and I was able to remind myself what is important in my life. 

So I asked, “Is there anything new that you discovered about yourself during the pandemic?” and found 4 common responses.

First, there were people who discovered that they enjoy remote working and staying home – “I don’t get bored!”, “I’m more OK than I thought with extended alone-time”, “I should stay at home more often than I used to”.  Some even mentioned they were able to build good routines.  Opposite to the first, the second most common response was the realization of how interactions with people are important in their lives – “how much I depend on physical connections with friends”, “That I am more of a people person than I ever suspected”. Some said they would rather go to the office than stay home (Me too!). Third common response was that they felt the need to physically move more and spend time outdoors – “I’m unfit for living as a hermit”,  “don’t underestimate the power of breaks in the sunshine”. It seems like many of us learned that physical activities not only improve physical, but also mental health. Last common response was the need for discipline. Having 100% control over our time and this freedom appeared to be attractive, but in fact, it requires a lot of effort to keep everything on track.

Here are some additional memorable responses: “I am living in a more privileged condition than I have realized”, “I can cook!”, “That we need to enjoy life” and  “That I’ve actually been living pretty much like this even before.” 


Everyone misses pre-covid days. Our community members told us that they miss live concerts and festivals, hanging out with real people and travelling the most. 

Let’s not give up hope, so that we can meet again soon. Please don’t forget to take care of the environment to prevent this kind of pandemic in the future. 

As a closing note, we asked people to share one tip they have for the community to survive this time. 

The most mentioned tip was to stay healthy physically and mentally. Some suggestions include getting a good sleep, eating good food, moderately exercising and doing mediation. Staying connected with others and helping others were a runner-up tip. Although we already have enough zoom talks, non-work related zoom socializing can actually make us feel better, like zoom beers! 

Also many emphasized having a routine or some rule, such as setting a certain time slot for work and break. Don’t think too much about how others have been doing; breathe and focus on yourself 🙂 

There were some extra fun and useful tips: “Don’t let the dirty dishes accumulate”, “fix things in your house”, “learn new things”,  and “TableTop simulator (on Steam) was quite useful during lockdown”. 

Stay healthy and happy till we meet next time !!


Kyungyun Lee is a MSc student at Music and Audio Computing Lab, KAIST. Her research interests range from MIR to HCI. Currently, she is interested in automatic music generation and analyzing user interaction with music platforms.


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