What I’m working on:
My work is divided among many different spheres as I combine editing with running a not-for-profit media-development organization I founded over 20 years ago. My daily routine revolves round training and mentoring early- and mid-career journalists in science and public health journalism as well as setting good examples for my three children.
My work at Nature Africa has further propelled me to actualize a lifelong dream of pursuing public understanding of science to its logical conclusion across the continent. I look forward to a time when science- and evidence-based approach becomes the bedrock of development in Africa. I also believe that prevention is better than cure, so I think communities should be enriched with critical information and knowledge to address infectious and noncommunicable diseases, as well as other public health challenges that bedevil the continent.
As a health-promotion and health-education specialist, I believe that science and public health journalism have a role to play in achieving several milestones. A pan-African science-journalism hub with key training and mentoring component should be a sustainable legacy to advance giving back to the continent.
Where I work:
As the chief editor at Nature Africa, I oversee the development and growth of the new online publication alongside my colleagues in editorial as well as marketing and sales. I work with a senior editor, an executive editor, a marketing team, a translator (the publication is in English and French), and a host of other contributors, including freelance writers and scientists across sub-Saharan Africa and those in the diaspora. My office is in Lagos, Nigeria, but I reside in a community (Journalists Estate, Arepo) with over 100 journalists and their families, the first such estate in the world, located in neighboring Ogun State.
Lagos, Nigeria’s former capital, has a metropolitan population of over 16 million. Because of the peculiarity of commuting in Lagos, I had to create a dual office at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown. My home office is located in the attic, above my daughter’s room. My office is a 30-minute drive that most often turned into a commute of four hours each way. The dynamic nature of Lagos provides the requisite adrenaline for journalism.
My day starts at about 4:00 a.m., a habit that has become so routine that no matter when I go to bed my internal alarm goes off at 4:00. Sometimes 24 hours is not enough to accomplish what is on my plate, so a lot of crunch time—often 24 hours at my desk, with intermittent breaks—is added to the menu.
Breakfast is not part of my morning routine, but coffee is. After I pour a cup, my workday starts with a look at my WhatsApp and email platforms for an update of whatever has been delivered overnight so it can be accommodated into the day’s work. This is followed by a flight of stairs up to my attic office. Alternatively, if I’m heading into Lagos, I must start by leaving home no later than 5:00 a.m.—otherwise I pay with four hours or more in traffic.
Most productive part of my day:
Morning coffee at my desk remains the most productive period when I work from home. This is particularly sweet when my daughter, a front-end engineer who has copied her parents’ workaholic habits, is home. The other time is in the evening after the day’s work, when I realize there are still tasks to be accomplished. Then the accompaniment of soul music emanating from the room below spurs another productive period from around 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., or sometimes a cold shower and the commute to the office in Lagos for the day’s work.
Most essential ritual or habit:
Editing, rewriting, and translation is the core of the daily editorial schedule. And it never stops. Google Maps is a major daily, habitual practice for navigation in Lagos. My household often checks the traffic situation throughout the night, especially when we have to venture out to the city. This habit is essential to avoid the perennial traffic gridlock in Lagos.
Drinking coffee is a daily ritual, and I have been on two meals a day—with breakfast no earlier than 11:00 a.m. and the second meal at about 7:00 p.m.—since April 2020, when Nigeria introduced total lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working out at the gym remains a permanent feature too. I try for at least three days a week, but sometimes I skip.
Favorite note-taking techniques/tools:
I use a notepad that I call Idea Keeper to jot down story ideas, which I then use to commission stories. A Samsung Galaxy Tab and iPhone are also usual companions for note-taking.
How I keep track of my to-do list:
All my emails are linked to Google Calendar and Outlook, which remind me of appointment schedules on a daily basis. However I do miss meetings, most especially due to fluctuating internet access, in this era of webinars, online meetings, and physical commitments. When internet access seizes up, everything is on hold, but the old way of just making a call or text messaging still works.
Essential software/apps/productivity tools:
Favorite time waster/procrastination habit:
The WhatsApp platform remains a major distraction, in a bid to still be relevant in the community where I live.
The old deadline-induced adrenaline habit still rules my life, but I must change. Alerts on embargoed science papers are also in constant flow for perusal and news hounding.
My reading habits:
I have to stay abreast a lot of materials to commission stories for the publication. So my professional reading lies in science magazines and embargoed materials, while my personal reading often involves a dive into development reports about Nigeria and other African countries.
I am highly undisciplined with my sleep and rest. But I have the ability to let go when I realize I need the rest. My usual bedtime is 10:00 p.m., but sometimes I hit the pillow earlier or later than midnight, while wake-up time is 4:00 a.m. all week. When sleep refuses to take over, in-house office here I come—that’s the rule for no time wasting.