When you’re in the business of translation, finding ways to increase your productivity is the key to success. Translators, especially those working freelance, are in control of the hours they work, and it’s easy to let an eight-hour working day spin into ten or twelve draining hours with nobody looking over your shoulder.
Organizing your workload, minimizing distractions and recharging away from the screen are essential for boosting productivity. Here are five easy tips to help you translate your time into productivity.
1) Plan It Out
When we have a big job on our hands it’s often our first instinct to get stuck in. With so much work looming over us, we want to get started right away. Counterintuitively, this is often the worst thing you can do for your productivity as, after shooting out of the starting block, you’ll stagnate when it comes time to move onto the next task.
Taking some time to plan out the structure of your task can pay dividends in productivity over the course of a big job. Set yourself a period of time – maybe one hour, maybe three – where all you’re going to do is research the structure of the task and plan it out. Spacing your work out over the course of the week will give you a clear idea of what to do and when, and it means you can switch gears from translating to editing, for example, when you need to.
2) Schedule Phone Time For Your Lunch Break
Breaking for lunch doesn’t have to mean a break in productivity. If you have phone calls scheduled for checking in with clients, you can plan these for your coffee breaks or your lunch breaks meaning that when break time’s over you can get your head down in the translational work.
What’s more, taking a phone call on your lunch break gives your eyes a rest from the screen. It’s easy to get sucked into social media when we’re not working, but Instagram scrolling is a productivity vacuum and ditching the desktop for an hour over lunch can give you the chance to recharge. You’ll come back after lunch energized, ready for a productive afternoon.
3) Website Blocking
The internet is a cornucopia of temptation – for many of us, CTRL+T becomes a virtual twitch and before we know it new tabs are open leading to a rabbit hole of distraction. Translators need to use the internet for research, so you can’t go offline altogether but there are tools out there that can shrink it down to the relevant parts.
Blocking news websites or your favorite social channels is a great way to drive up productivity. If Chrome is your browser of choice, extensions such as Strict WorkFlow can lock you out of certain websites for hours at a time, letting you concentrate on the task at hand.
4) Turn Off Notifications
We often feel that productivity comes in bursts and with translating work, you can’t be expected to find that focused feeling at all times. This means that when we’re in the flow we need to minimize distractions, allowing you to get the most out of your periods of productivity.
Setting your phone on silent and turning off desktop notifications for things like emails lets you get in the zone. You can set an alarm on your phone to demarcate this productive time, but don’t let a rude interruption rob you of your workflow.
5) Speech Recognition Software
This is a translator’s secret weapon and can shave hours off your day. Even if you’re a touch typing master, utilizing speech recognition software will get your words on the page without you having to lift a finger. This software is especially useful if you’re translating into your first language as you’re guaranteed to have perfect diction that minimizes mistakes.
Although there’s free speech recognition software for Windows and Mac these are often clunky to use. Dragon Naturally Speaking is the most popular paid tool amongst translators.
Translation work is often challenging, requiring focus and concentration for long periods of time. Working in front of a screen can become draining, so it’s essential that you take breaks to recharge. Finding your flow, minimizing distractions and planning your week are essential to high productivity as a translator.
Ashley Halsey is a professional writer and translator at Lucky assignments Belfast and Gumessays.com. She translates from Spanish and French into English and is currently based out of Madrid, Spain.