- Published: Monday, 03 February 2014 12:33
- Written by Dana Shannak
- Hits: 3264
Freelance translators work hard, but sometimes feel that their productivity is slipping for one reason or another. These are routines that I find help me to be more productive:
- Sufficient sleep. People need different amounts of sleep to function at their best. I find that if I am tired, I don’t work as quickly and efficiently as I do when I’m fully rested. Listen to your body, and make sure that you’re getting the correct amount of sleep. Remember that exercise helps your body to sleep, so spend a certain amount of time each day doing your favorite workout. One way to make sure that your brain is ready to rest is to feel that you’re in control of your work situation. Deciding at the end of the day what you’re going to do the next day helps. Which brings us to the next productivity tip.
- To-do lists. Setting goals is an extremely important part of freelance translation work. These goals may be how much money you need to earn per day/week/month or how many words you want to translate per hour/day. Once you know your goals, draw up your to-do list, breaking it into manageable sections. For example, before I tackle a job, I will do any research required—my to-do list entries state “research” and “translate.” Obviously, all translators have different goals and to-do lists, but the general idea is the same.
- Prioritization. Deadlines rule the lives of freelance translators. Usually, you’ll have jobs due at different times, so it’s important to work on them according to due date, rather than starting with the tasks that you prefer doing. I adore translating press releases, but I also do other types of translation work, so I have to be disciplined and make sure I don’t favor one over the other.
- Sprint short distances. Take breaks during the day when you start to tire. The human mind can only absorb so much information at a time and the body needs fuel to keep it going. Fifteen minute breaks for some fresh air, a beverage and snack, or to move away from your work station does wonders, and you’ll be able to work faster and increase your productivity when you return to the task in hand.
- Learn to say “No.” Discernment about jobs comes with experience. If a job offer raises red flags such as the amount of time allowed or the rate of pay being too low, then don’t take on that work. It’s all right to refuse work—if it’s for a regular client, it’s likely that they will be prepared to negotiate timing and fees.
- Rewards. It’s sometimes a good motivator to give yourself rewards when you’re working. Things like checking out social media and personal emails can be a good reward. Or, you may prefer rewards such as playtime with your pet or a walk in the park. Once you’ve finished a large job, taking time out to watch a movie or spending a morning with friends is great. In other words, pick a reward that will motivate you and aim to get there!
Some tips from other translators:
I wake up very early in the morning because it’s the quietest time of day. I can focus better and nobody is emailing me constantly. I enabled the pop-up feature of Gmail and it annoys me more than anything else because it breaks my concentration, although sometimes it’s handy for urgent matters.
Mar Saumell from MS Translation & Localization
Creating and updating my glossaries (French, English, Spanish, Italian). Listening to the news in French, English, Spanish, and Italian. Reading a little bit (subjects/areas of interest, and articles in my field/industry-translation and consecutive interpreting), networking online and off-line.
I’d love to hear your ideas about how you increase your productivity as freelance translators, so feel free to add your comments below.
Most of the time I work on shorter and easier to digest projects. I like this mode of work: it’s more dynamic, less boring and equally rewarding. I can translate for some time and spend the rest of it perfecting my work, polishing the surface and rounding up the edges. But larger projects do come in, and keep me engaged for days and days of the same text.
It just happened about 2 weeks ago. I got trapped with the same text for 7 hours a day from Monday to Friday (almost 9 to 5!), and I noticed that my brain starts to slip. It doesn’t happen that often if texts are different, or if you can be more flexible and move your activities around. But how to deal with block translating?
It was very tempting for me to spend the first couple of hours translating all the time, thinking: the more I manage to translate now, the sooner I’ll finish. Not a great idea. It is much better to take a break every hour and to let your brain breathe for a while. I translated for 55 minutes, and then took a 5 minutes’ long break, closing my eyes and listening to my favourite, soul-brightening Norwegian music. Thinking about green slopes, calm fiords and white sheep… Anything but policies, regulations and penalties for infringement.
I used to think that a quick coffee in a morning is a must to start me off. Well, one cup sounds fine. But in my own experience, problems start when you’re trying to stay awake after 2-3 hours of translating slurping yet another large black. Coffee worked against me, leaving my brain fed up and my translating self bored and dumb. Water works much better, with a slice of lemon. Keeping my body hydrated allowed me to keep my hourly turnover steady.
I avoid large and heavy on a stomach food anyway, but you may want to try eating light while you work. I usually eat fruit and nuts to get more sugar and energy, instead of eating bread and dairy products. Oh, and… chocolate really helps.
For large projects, I always have a daily planned turnover and I know I have to keep up to translate according to it. Make sure that it is reasonable, and that you’re not left with too much time on your hands. At first, I estimated I’ll translate much slower and I ended up cheating: if I can do it in 5 hours, not 7, I can spend these 2 hours killing time… Wrong. I’m sure that a habit like that would impact my overall capacity and after some time I’d end up translating a half or a third of what I can do now. My best tactics: plan to translate enough to rush a bit. If you have time to check your e-mail or Facebook, that means not enough work. (By the way: checking e-mail during small breaks is a NO GO. Before you realise, you’ll end up wasting away at least half an hour).
Don’t laugh at me, but I couldn’t work without that. A quick series of stand-ups, or energetic dance (to the very same Norwegian music), or a healthy stretch can do wonders with your levels of concentration. I also try to go to the gym every other day, and I find it really beneficial for my translation work.
Long projects taking days are mind-bogging. I was getting mad in front of my computer, so I used crime stories and thrillers to exercise my mind. Don’t let your mind get too engrossed in one topic, or you’ll end up completely exhausted and brain dead by the end of the project.
We’re all only human and we’d do everything for a treat. If you’re struggling with a project and you wish you studied accountancy or law, think of a nice motivational bonus. Sometimes little things work, and sometimes we need massive gratification. I made an official promise that if I manage to keep up with my plan till the end of June, I’m going for my great Scandinavian trip: Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Turku, Oslo, and Bergen. Playing Norwegian music in the background reminds me of my bonus. But again, chocolate works almost equally great!
I appreciate this certain stability that long projects provide us with, but I may suffer from a sort of professional over activeness, and I can’t imagine myself translating the same texts for longer than 2 weeks. It becomes too mechanical, taking away my most favourite part. But well, no-one can be too picky nowadays.
How do you take care of your brain? How do you deal with large and heavy projects? Do you have any secrets that keep you carry on for ages?
Cf. original piece: http://wantwords.co.uk/school/lesson-27-translation-brain/
I do like the way this word is spelt.
B+E+D: headBoard, mattrEss and footboarD.
How can something like punctuation affect your relationships?
Punctuation may be having more of an impact on your relationships now than at any previous point in human history.
At no other time have we communicated on such a broad scale through written communication.
When you combine emails, instant messaging, online chatting, and text messaging, not to mention snail mail, post cards, and handwritten notes, the communication of most of your thoughts comes in writing.
Punctuation marks have developed to help capture the meaning conveyed through the inflection of the voice. Without your voice to accompany the text, sometimes it can be difficult to understand the intended meaning. Because you are not there to witness the impact of your words and clarify any miscommunication, something as simple as punctuation may greatly impact how people “see” you.
We’re not going to get bogged down in rules here. If you want grammar lessons, look elsewhere. And you should, because grammar mistakes can demolish what you’re trying to say.
For now, let’s look at some common punctuation habits that could be affecting your relationships that you aren’t aware of. By breaking these bad habits, you can communicate better with others and improve your relationships.
1. Are your parentheses passive-aggressive?
When I taught English, my students learned that parentheses convey ideas that you would say with your hands cupped around your mouth to share a secret.
We’re going to Disney World for vacation again this year (because Mom has to have her way).
Parentheses can come across as tongue-in-cheek, playful, j/k. If you’re not careful, though, parentheses come out as claws, sharing information that draws blood.
It takes skill to use parenthetical phrases for humor without coming across as passive-aggressive.
If you find that people are taking offense to your asides, try leaving them out, especially in work-related messages. Here’s a chance to keep your foot out of your mouth.
2. Are you over-using exclamation marks?
Hey! Exclamation marks are great! They tell you that I am excited! Or I am outraged! Or I stubbed my toe!
When you use exclamation marks too frequently, though, you can come across like a chihuahua. While chihuahuas are lovely creatures, I have a difficult time taking them seriously. Chances are, if you overly-use exclamation marks, people have come to think of you as overly-excited, overly-dramatic, or insincere.
Aim to use exclamations when you truly want to convey intense feelings or opinion. Or, if you truly are that indefatigable spirit or want to be the Cranky Old Man, keep using those exclamations! Just make sure you mean it!
3. Are your texts inadvertently angry?
The period can make you seem pissed. Ben Crair at “The New Republic” suggests that short texts ending in periods can come across as short-tempered.
The first rule of punctation is that all sentences should end in a punctuation mark, yes? But maybe this could change for texts. When I’m speaking, I don’t say “period” at the end of each sentence. There is a tonal implication of the end.
In texting, try using line breaks to convey thoughts without seeming to make statements with finality. Consider the meaning sent by this text:
I’d like to go see a movie.
How does that compare with the meaning sent by this text:
I’d like to go see a movie
Which one means, “I’m open to seeing a movie but I could do whatever” versus “The only thing I want to do is see a movie”?
If your texts are short and direct, but you don’t want to convey that you are short-tempered and bossy, try cutting out periods and use line breaks instead.
4. Are you too passive and unsure?
At the other extreme, some folks can communicate a lack of confidence.
The over-use of questions and lack of punctuation signals that you don’t know what you want. Look at these examples:
After reviewing the report’s findings, option C seems to have more benefits?
get some things from the store for me?
you room should be clean when I get home
People feel secure in relationships that have clear boundaries. If you communicate with too many question marks or consistently without punctuation, people may see you as uncertain.
Assertive communication, however, is clear with no room for confusion.
The report will be on your desk by 3.
When you want to come across with more authority, use periods at the end of non-negotiable statements.
5. Are you too aggressive?
WHILE NOT PUNCTUATION, CONSTANT CAPITALIZATION HAS A MAJOR AFFECT ON WRITTEN TEXT.
IT CAN COME ACROSS AS LAZY. IS IT REALLY THAT DIFFICULT TO TURN OFF THE CAPS LOCK?
IT CAN COME ACROSS AS IGNORANT. DO YOU NOT KNOW THE RULES SO YOU JUST CAPITALIZE EVERYTHING?
IT CAN COME ACROSS AS POMPOUS. DO YOU THINK EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TO SAY IS THAT IMPORTANT?
IT CAN COME ACROSS AS AGGRESSIVE. I FEEL LIKE I’M BEING YELLED AT.
If you have been a caps lock addict, it’s time to get some help. (Ah, doesn’t that feel better?) You may make some mistakes as you go through withdrawal, but in the long-run you will connect with others.
Are there other ways punctuation can rub you the wrong way? Got any real-life examples? Please share them in the comments below.
IT: Voglio inaugurare il nuovo hashtag #perlediunatraduttrice con uno sketch-gioco di parole avvenuto ieri sera tra me e mia sorella.
EN: I want to celebrate the launch of the new hashtag #perlediunatraduttrice* telling you a play on words between my sister and me occurred last night.
ES: Para celebrar el lanzamiento de mi nuevo hashtag #perlediunatraduttrice** quiero contarles un juego de palabras que mi hermana y yo hicimos anoche.
[ ITALIANO ]
[giocando ad indovinare le canzoni dalle clip musicali su sporcle.com]
K: (digitando la risposta) “The WAN who can’t be moved” […] “Non me lo prende!”
M: “AHAHAHAH! Hai scritto WAN, non MAN…”
K: “WAN come Obi-Wan.”
M: “Sì, è ‘Lo JEDI che non si spostava***‘!”
[ ENGLISH ]
[playing “Guess the song/singer” listening to music clips from famous songs on sporcle.com]
K: (typing the answer) “The WAN who can’t be moved” […] “It says ‘wrong’!”
M: “HAHAHA! The word is MAN, not WAN…”
K: “WAN is for Obi-Wan.”
M: “Yep, ‘The JEDI who can’t be moved.”
[ ESPAÑOL ]
[jugando al quiz “Adivina la canción/quién canta”, escuchando algunos fragmentos de canciones famosas en sporcle.com]
K: (escribiendo la respuesta) “The WAN who can’t be moved” […] “No me hace escribir!”
M: “AJAJAJ! Has escrito WAN, en lugar de MAN…”
K: “WAN, como Obi-Wan.”
M: “¡Sí!, es ‘El JEDI que no se puede mover’.”
*** [ndt.] la traduzione esatta è “che non può spostarsi/che non può essere spostato“.