What I’m working on:
I’ve been working on a number of investigative stories this year. One series I’ve been working on with my colleagues is a deep dive into the spread of obesity and lifestyle diseases in the developing world and the role of the food industry. It’s called Planet Fat.
Where I work:
I am based in San Francisco, which I love. I was born and raised in New York City and worked there for many years at the Times‘ headquarters. I moved to San Francisco in 2016—where the Times has its third largest office—and plan on being here for a while.
Wake up, check my work email, take a look at the home pages of my favorite newspapers and blogs, and then get up and make coffee. I eat breakfast while I respond to emails. Then I dig into whatever story I’m working on that day. If I’m not on a tight deadline, I’ll sometimes take a 30-minute break in the afternoon to go for a quick run or hit the gym, which helps me think through ideas or conquer writer’s block. I cook dinner around 7:00 p.m. I’m very health conscious, so I like to cook fresh meals. After dinner I get back on my laptop and either write some more or read a bunch of scientific research.
Most productive part of my day:
Strangely, I tend to be most productive late at night. I get a lot of work-related emails and phone calls throughout the day. At night, when the rest of the country is tucking into bed, I am able to concentrate completely, and that’s often when I get to write for hours at a time with zero interruptions.
Most essential ritual or habit:
Exercise. If I don’t exercise at least four or five days a week, I feel restless. I also find that exercise helps me immensely with the writing process. Some of my best ideas come to me while I am running along the water or sitting on a bench at the gym curling weights. I think it has something to do with the adrenaline stimulating my creative process.
A MacBook Air.
Essential software/apps/productivity tools:
Scoop, Microsoft Word, WordPress, Apple Notes, and an audio recorder.
Favorite time waster/procrastination habit:
Listening to podcasts and medical lectures on YouTube. One guy I follow on social media is Professor Fink. He’s a pharmacology and biology professor who uploads all of his lectures onto YouTube. He’s very fun and engaging and fascinating to listen to if you’re a nerd like me and you enjoy thinking about metabolism and human physiology in granular detail. I also follow a lot of science and public health people on Twitter and I read a lot of articles posted there. Some of my favorite podcasts are Freakonimcs Radio, The Daily, NPR’s Planet Money, and NPR’s Up First.
My reading habits:
The New York Times, The Washington Post, various blogs and media outlets (Slate, STAT, Vox, WSJ, etc.). For politics I also read Politico and watch Morning Joe. Every day I read a ton of studies and books on nutrition. Right now I am reading The Longevity Diet by one of the world’s leading longevity experts, Valter Longo.
I am very much a night owl. So I tend to get into bed around midnight, sometimes later if I need to finish a story, and wake up around 7:30 a.m. A good night of sleep for me is around seven hours.