Working as a freelance translator requires a great deal of self-motivation and efficiency.
Individuals who are prone to procrastinating may struggle to organise their time sufficiently well to carve out a successful freelance career. However, even the most organised and efficient individual can sometimes fall prey to certain productivity killers. While these differ from person to person, here we look at five of the top ones.
For all their benefits in connecting people around the world and helping freelance translators gain exposure to new clients (or strengthen relationships with existing clients), social networks can be a huge productivity killer. In fact, a recent CareerBuilder survey found that 38% of respondents considered social media to be a productivity stopper during the working day.
The reason is two-fold. Not only do social networks drain time while an individual is using them, but they can also act as a powerful demotivating tool. Nobody is immune to feeling a twinge of envy when they see that their friends are outside enjoying the sunshine while they sit indoors working – a situation which is unlikely to fill the worker with joy at their current task.
Cell phones are another major productivity killer. Again, they are a useful tool for the freelance translator when it comes to client interfacing, but they also encompass a wide range of distractions, from personal calls and texts to playing games or surfing the net. With modern phones making it easy for users to access social networks, they also lead to the productivity killer listed above!
Regular screen breaks can be an ideal way to keep your mind fresh while you work, but they can just as easily be an almost instant productivity killer. Stopping work mid-flow in order to grab a drink or snack, or to have a cigarette, can interrupt your train of thought and make it hard to pick up and carry on once you are back at your desk.
Like cell phones, email is another important tool for the freelance worker. It’s also a major distraction. You can be in the middle of translating a complex sentence, when an email arrives and suddenly you’re looking at that instead. If the message requires action, it is often tempting to deal with it there and then, but doing so will inevitably take you away from the task at hand.
While juggling email and other tasks is very much a part of the modern working life, it can nevertheless be a serious productivity killer if not managed well.
Client meetings can be a massive drain on productivity for freelance translators. They interrupt the working day, often require preparation that takes the translator away from their actual translation work and can at times drag on interminably. They can also result in a number of agreed actions that further distraction from the translator’s actual workload.
The solution to combatting productivity killers is to be strict with how you manage your time. As a freelancer, only you can improve your efficiency, so put some structures in place to ensure that you are being as productive as possible.
For social networks and mobile phone usage, set yourself windows of time when you are allowed to access them. Treat yourself to five minutes at the end of every hour, as a reward for the hour of work you have just completed.
With breaks for other reasons, be sure to time them so that your work flow is interrupted at a convenient time and you don’t lose your train of thought. This will help to keep your productivity level up. The same goes for dealing with incoming emails. Don’t keep flicking across to your Inbox every time one arrives – instead, set aside a chunk of time for dealing with email and then focus on your translation work for the rest of the time.
When it comes to client meetings you have to take the reins. Set an agenda with agreed timescales for each item, then stick to them mercilessly!
Finally, if structure is not your game and when all else fails, maybe the least expected solutions will be your high road to increased productivity.
What is your worst productivity killer and how do you handle it? Let us know via the comments box.