As food bloggers, you might imagine that we’d be tethered to a line that runs from our kitchens to our desks. You would be fairly justified in imagining this. But in real life, things are a little different. There are days–glorious, delicious days–when we cook and photograph all day and eat things like Grits with Frizzled Shallots and a Fried Egg for breakfast, Golden Zucchini Sandwiches for lunch, and Coconut-Crusted Tilapia for dinner. There are also days when deadlines approach and we can hardly be bothered to cook, as there’s so much typing to be done to keep the blog on track. In other words, eating leftovers over our laptops it is.
And then there are weeks when we’ve got meetings to go to and events to attend, videos to shoot and book tours to plan. Don’t get us wrong, these are awesome days full of networking and progress. Still, they can take a toll on the core of our work. For eating, that means meals on the go or really, really quick dinners. For blogging, we’ve got to get craftier, and we keep potential posts on our minds at all times, as though there’s a WordPress backend installed in our brains.
The techniques we’ve developed for being Highly Efficient Bloggers on the Go keep us on the job whenever we’re stuck on a subway or a plane, running from meeting to meeting, trapped in a doctor’s office for hours, or shuffling along in line at the supermarket checkout. The blog will not wait. Here’s how to keep going, no matter what.
**Tips and Tricks**
1. Find a seat. Sounds simple, but it’s much easier to zone out from your surroundings and plug into your work if you’re sitting down relatively comfortably. Keep an eye out for park benches, seats on trains or buses, and large boulders in the park that double as armchairs. Then balance your laptop on your knees. Who needs an office?
2. Wear a watch. If you’ve got five minutes, you’ve got time to make progress on your work. Use the first couple seconds to take a gander at your to do list (see #4, below), then set out on a task on which you can make headway in just a few minutes. Better yet, find one you can complete start to finish. Email, which can be the bane of our existence, is a good one to demolish in spare moments; get all those meeting follow-ups and thank yous checked off in no time. It’s also the easiest thing to bang out on your smart phone–no laptop necessary! (This has the additional benefit of clearing your to-do list of small maintenance items by the time you do sit down at a desk to work on a long-term project.)
3. Record your inspiration. Know how you get your best ideas in the shower, or right before you fall asleep at night? It’s sometimes when we step away from our deadlines and our daily tasks that inspiration strongly strikes. Those moments of transit, away from distractions, can be similarly inspiring. Just don’t forget to scribble down your ideas! We love using the Notepad apps on our iPhone and Blackberry to keep track of all the random things that pop into our head (see below).
4. Keep your to do list mobile. You don’t want to get stuck with a whole hour to spare and then not have a clue how best to make use of your time. Even if you normally update your to-do list on your computer, using text pad or google’s tasks window, or any other method (what’s your to-do list system? We’re always curious!), when you’re on the go you might not be able to reach that document (see #5), and honestly you might find it counterproductive to have the whole damn list staring you mockingly in the face. Instead, try writing down five to 10 tasks that are conducive to on-the-go work on an old-fashioned sticky note you can stick on the outside of your laptop (an index card in your wallet works too), or make a list on your phone. When you sit down for a short burst of work, you’ll know just where to get started.
5. Anticipate internet shutouts. If you’ll be working on the subway or in a room where wireless and 3G networks are absent (or cost money), be sure to take any work you’ll need offline. If you have work stored on google docs, open a browser window before you leave. If you’ll need articles to refer to, download them.
6. Get comfortable. Find a padded laptop case and/or a messenger bag that fits your computer comfortably. If you’ll be blogging on the go, you’ll find yourself toting that laptop around a lot. While we’re all about toned biceps and shoulders, you don’t want to pull a muscle or anything!
7. Make headway. Don’t be worried about perfection when you’re working on the go. You can get a good, worthwhile, and thorough start on projects, but it’s unlikely that you’re going to be turning out polished pieces of finished work. Don’t give imperfections a thought. If we can get home at the end of the day with an outline, a typo-ridden draft, or a couple new recipes written up for future posts, actually finishing up our blog entries ends up taking minutes, rather than the hours it would have if we’d started from a blank page without the advantage of our on-the-go drafts.
8. Embrace the rote task. When we redesigned and relaunched the site last winter, there was a ton of maintenance to be done! We had to re-export every photograph at new dimensions and re-tag every post so it would appear in our recipe index. This is not work for a brainiac; in fact, it is perfect for multitasking while watching TV or sitting in a not-so-interesting meeting or lecture. Don’t, ahem, be rude, but if you can manage to cross off those mindless tasks at opportune moments, your productivity will definitely thank you.
9. Find your happy spot. A city like New York is bursting at the seams with coffee shops. But not all are conducive to working. Some are too empty, some too crowded. Some play headache-inducing music, some are eerily silent, and some are booming with the silly chatter of fellow customers. Some don’t have bathrooms or outlets. Once you’ve hit on a public space that’s conducive to concentration, remember it–you might even keep a list of your favorite locales in different neighborhoods. Don’t overlook non-coffee shop options; NYC has a few free, public work areas, and certain friendly hotel lobbies and indoor plazas are also ideal on-the-go work spaces.
10. Accessorize your laptop. You may be able to run on empty, but your laptop can’t. If you’ll be out and about for hours, pack your power cord and seek out outlets at coffee shops and on buses, trains, and airports. Bring your headphones–they can help you focus in public places. You might also consider investing $15 in a small wireless mouse–wrist comfort, friends, is underrated.
This post was brought to you in partnership with Intel® who are all about making our lives better (and faster) with technology – today and tomorrow. Since we’re co-dependent with our smartphones, tablets, laptops and whatever they come up with next, at every waking moment to keep up to date on our food writing, photography, twitter streams, and facebook posts, we appreciate what they are doing.