Our day-to-day looks quite a bit different today than it did a few months ago as most of the world has been adjusting to the “new normal”. As a research recruiter at obvi, I wanted to take this as an opportunity to hear and understand how people were navigating this unique and wild time, so I thought what better way than with a diary study.

So that’s where the spark for my Covid Confessions diary study began–wanting to have deeper insight into what my millennial peers were experiencing during this global pandemic. The beauty of diary studies is that they provide the opportunity to ask questions and follow along with your participants in real time, as they move through their lives from week to week. I also wanted a unique way to document this historic moment in time and hopefully provide the participants with a little fun because to be honest...we could all use a little fun right now.  

If you want to understand the impact COVID-19 is having on people you and your organization care about, a diary study is a great way for you to document their highs and lows as they navigate this time. Here’s a template for what my Covid Confessions project looks like–adapt as necessary!

(note: obvi is free for the rest of the month, so get started on your Research Plan!)


Who to include:
8-10 people

This diary study is designed for people with smartphones and decent wifi. If you need a plan that’s friendly for cell phones and/or low-no-wifi, try a text-only study.

Research goal:
Understand how shelter-in-place is impacting 20-30 somethings in the US

4 weeks

Assignment format:
2 assignments per week
We expect participants to spend about an hour total doing the assignments in our diary study plan. More on assignment types and effort here.

Recommended Incentive:
This varies, depending on your audience, objectives, and how time-consuming you choose to make your assignments. Pay people fairly for their time.


Week 1

Participant Signup Message
Hi [first-name]! Thanks for joining our COVID Confessions Project. You can reply here by text or send photos/videos with an upload link we'll provide. Get ready to dive in as we navigate this new normal!

💰time: Send a small starting payment. If Amazon makes sense for your participants, you can pay for and issue gift codes directly through obvi.

Assignment 1: Set the Tone
Hi [first-name]! For your first assignment send us a short video telling us a bit about you and what your quarantine setup is like. Describe what city/state, who you’re with, and what your space is like!

Week 2

Assignment 2: Changes

Happy Tuesday! We want to hear what has changed for you since COVID19. Send us a short video describing how your life looks different today than it did 2-3 weeks ago. Walk us through your "new" daily routine!

Assignment 3: Cooking at home
Hi! Text us or send photos of a typical day of meals at home. Have your thoughts on grocery shopping/takeout/food changed during shelter-in-place? Are you spending more or less time in the kitchen?

Week 3

💰Send out a halfway payment here!

Assignment 4: It's about time
Hi [first-name]! With more time at home, how are you spending your time? Have you started any new hobbies? Leaning into old ones? Binging a Netflix series? Send us a picture to show us what you’ve been doing to pass the time.

Assignment 5: Self-care
What are things you are doing for self-care during this time, if any? Send us a picture or video of things you are doing to take care of yourself mentally and physically.

Week 4

Assignment 6: What next
We want to know, where is the first place you want to go when you are free from shelter-in-place? Tell us where you want to go, who you want to see, and why!

Assignment 7: A wish
Hi [first-name]! For your last assignment, we want to know what you hope to take away from this shelter-in-place experience. What do you hope the world takes away from this experience? Tell us in text or video, your choice!

Complete Participants Message
We’ve really enjoyed having you as part of our Covid Confessions! We're done with the project and will be sending payment shortly!

💰time: Pay the final incentive! We recommend saving a bigger one for the end.


COVID-19 has not just impacted a particular group of people, but the entire world at large. Even for people with a lot in common, their experience of this pandemic may look a bit (or very!) different. Diary studies give us a chance to follow along and see how we're different–and maybe more importantly, how we're the same.