If you work in the professional translation sector, as a freelancer you’ll no doubt appreciate that time is money. The faster you can translate (without compromising the quality of your work), the more you can earn – or the more time free time you can have. Either way, improving your productivity means squeezing more out of each day. As such, we’ve put together a list of translation productivity hacks to inspire you to up your game.
Whether you use a stopwatch on your smartphone, a timer app on your laptop or an old-fashioned hourglass, timing chunks of work can be a real motivator. The idea is that you achieve intense bursts of work that see you translating at your very best, with no interruptions. Regardless of your email binging, reminders popping up or texts vibrating your phone, until that timer has gone off, you focus solely on the translation at hand. Then, at the end of the hour (or however long you choose), you enjoy a few minutes of downtime to grab a coffee and quickly whizz through your emails and messages before settling down to the next focused burst of translation. Providing business translation services is often a demanding task, so approaching it in this way can help you to tackle it in super-productive chunks.
There’s nothing quite like a list to focus the mind on what needs to be done. Whether you go back to basics with a pen and pencil or opt for a fancy list app, assigning activities a ‘must do’ status will help to laser-focus your productivity. A secondary, ‘it would be good if I could also do’ list of tasks can also help to keep your day on track.
Social media has to be one of the biggest productivity drains in modern working life. When you work on your own, it can be tempting to check in with your friends throughout the day but doing so can easily drain your time. As such, make a point of staying away from social media sites during working hours. Your work will benefit as a result and you can enjoy the buzz of having achieved more at the end of the day.
Tedious tasks are part of most people’s working life. If you work freelance, it’s likely that some elements of the work you undertake don’t appeal, whether it’s marketing your services to find new clients or completing your monthly invoices. Tedious tasks can actually be quite quick to complete, but they impact on productivity as many of use procrastinate before doing them.
There are a couple of ways that you can boost your productivity by tackling tedious tasks. According to Mark Twain’s famous quote, “If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.” Get those tedious tasks out of the way first thing and you can settle down to enjoy the rest of your day. Put them off and they will cast a shadow over your work – and your productivity levels – until you’ve tackled them.
Another trick for dealing with tedious tasks, if they are longer jobs, is to track your progress. You can do this however you see fit – one freelancer puts 50 beans on his desk in the morning and puts one in a cup each time he makes a cold call. When the desk is bare, he gets a reward. As ever, there are of course apps that serve the same purpose.
A reward that you really want can do a lot to motivate you to work more productively. Whether it’s a particularly delicious doughnut or treating yourself to an extra half-hour at the gym (I find the latter usually becomes necessary after the former!), assign rewards that are in direct proportion to how hard you have to work in order to maintain your momentum and focus.
Everyone has their own productivity hacks; what are yours? Share your insights below to help inspire your fellow translators!