Tuesday, July 17, 2007
A Day In The Life
Trig warned me. "Writing the posts is just a small part of the work," he said. And, of course, he was right.
Lately, as I post more and more, I've been getting asked by friends and family who look at the blog where I find the time. Well, it's not easy but I DO enjoy it. It seems like at least one day a week is devoted entirely to food. There are several tools that I use keep organized and on track, accomplishing all of the things I want to do.
Trig was right, though. The posts are really a small part of it. You have to visit all of the restaurants and take notes. You have to continuously come up with new ideas for posts, which actually has never been a problem, so far. Part of the process of keeping the ideas flowing is research. I subscribe to food magazines, watch TV food shows and faithfully read the "Food" sections in the Wednesday editions of The Boston Globe and The New York Times, which are both great. All of that reading helps to point out new trends to write about. I also read other blogs and food sites. Two of my favorites are Aidan Brooks: Trainee Chef and Cave Cibum. It keeps me updated. The news, for instance, gave me the idea for the "What The Chuck?" posting. I was the very first to publish notice of the Taste of Cambridge postponement. So, my readers got that notice first while other sites were still encouraging people to attend. There's also tons of email. Last week I had one from an organization in Indiana attending a conference in Boston and looking for a nice place for their group to have dinner. After several emails back and forth I was able to help them get just what they wanted. It helps that when you Google "The Boston Foodie" that you find me. I may not be first up but not far from it.
I organize my time and schedule using a combination of things but first is the Levenger Circa System because it's the most flexible and fits my needs. When I am planning at home I like to use a larger format and when I am out and about, which is more often, I need portability. With the Circa System you can incorporate three different sizes of planners for your schedule, agendas, to do lists, notes, project planning, etc.
My other tool is a PDA device by Springboard called the Visor. I got it years ago and it's totally outdated but it is my own personal assistant, holding 12,000 addresses, 10 years of appointments, 6,000 to do items, 6,000 memos and 400 email messages all in the palm of my hand, literally. I even keep Internet-updated movie times on it in case I am out dining and want to know what's playing at that cinema around the corner. There are online downloads available for every major international city so I also have a list of restaurants and cinemas in London, Paris, Barcelona - whatever city you'd like. It's my memory bank. I could probably spend a thousand bucks on a new iphone but I'd rather spend that on travel, food and fun. I also use the Visor for the alarm function to keep me from losing track of time and the stopwatch function (exactly how long did that entree take to arrive?).
In order to accomplish everything i need to do I have to break down all of my projects into smaller tasks that I can accomplish in a short amount of time. The Visor alarms, tied to my to-do lists and priorities, keep me focused on these tasks. Otherwise, I'd lose complete track of time spent chatting online and on skype and watching mindless TV reality shows that have caught my eye as they have become so expert at doing (oh the drama). For great ideas on improving your productivity and adapting your own planning tools I often read DIYPlanner.com, another great non-foodie blog.
When dining out I try to make discreet notes in a small Levenger circa notebook, just enough so that I don't forget important details. The things I tend to forget are architectural elements, lighting and so forth. If I taste a large variety of plates I may make notes on that but I've never forgotten what I've had for an appetizer, entree or dessert and what I liked, or didn't like, about the flavor. I also need a notebook for research. I need to get names, addresses and phone numbers correct. I also need to make sure all the links are correct. A single post can contain ten or more. All of the photos I need for the post have to be downloaded and checked. Lots of times I decide at the last minute I don't like the photo and have to hold off on the post. So....there is a list of all of the photos I need to get for the blog: the pocky photos, Charles Shaw wine photos, the recipe card photos are all examples of this. Then, there are thousands of travel photos that I need to sort through. I carry a small Levenger notebook, jotter and 3x5 cards with me at all times because I never know when I might get a great idea for a blog post, something interesting I see and want to research, or a poster for an event I potentially may want to attend. Oh, and my MP3 is also filled with podcasts on travel and food so whenever I am commuting I am considering that research time.
So, even though my days often start at 5:00 a.m. and the agenda has me busy right up until 10:00 p.m., I am not complaining. When you're having fun doing something it doesn't seem like work at all.