A Day in the Life of Anahad O’Connor

Anahad O’Connor is a bestselling author and staff reporter for The New York Times. He covers consumer health, writing about topics such as nutrition, chronic disease, obesity, and the food industry. He joined the paper in 2003 and has covered everything from business to politics and culture. His focus since 2011 has been the intersection of food and health. Anahad’s news stories and investigative articles frequently appear on the front page of The New York Times, and he’s been a featured guest on national news programs such as PBS NewsHour, Good Morning America, and NPR’s All Things Considered. A graduate of Yale, he is the author of four books, and currently lives in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @anahadoconnor.

 

Anahad O'ConnorCourtesy of Anahad O'Connor

Anahad O’Connor

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.

Daily routine:

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.

 

Anahad O’Connor interviewingCourtesy of Anahad O’Connor

 

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.

Don't miss a thing. Sign up for our newsletter.

Sign Up
Mobile device:

An iPhone.

Computer:

A MacBook Air.

Essential software/apps/productivity tools:

Scoop, Microsoft Word, WordPress, Apple Notes, and an audio recorder.

 

Anahad O’Connor media eventCourtesy of Anahad O’Connor

 

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.

Sleep schedule:

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.

Please Support The Open Notebook

Producing The Open Notebook costs more than $2,500 per week, and we depend on contributions from our community of readers. If 400 people—about half a percent of all the people who visit TON each year—contribute $10/month, we will meet our fundraising goal. If you believe our work is valuable, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution or a recurring donation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *