Throughout the day, language translators are bombarded by distractions—some of them self-induced, some of them not. Over the years, I’ve incorporated a few productivity hacks into my routine; they’ve served me well, so I thought I’d share some of them with you.
5 Productivity Hacks for Language Translators
Set your priorities and write them down
I like keeping to-do lists for a couple reasons. First, they help me remember and prioritize my tasks; just as important, though, is the feeling of satisfaction I get when I scribble a hard line through the task once it’s completed
Set your iPhone to “Do Not Disturb” mode
My cell phone is one of the biggest sources of distraction, but thanks to “Do Not Disturb” mode, I am able to silence calls, texts, notifications and alerts from every app and contact without blocking a specific person. If you’re unsure of how to activate this feature, click here.
Adopt an e-mail efficiency plan
Email can suck you right into a time warp (as can Facebook). Keep your communications to-the-point and brief. Use the features your email system provides: highlight emails that need your immediate attention as opposed to those that can sit in the inbox for a little while. Here’s another idea: Log out of your email and only check it at specific times throughout the day.
Much of what you do is boiler plate in terms of rates/deadlines/review/approval periods, etc. Have descriptions typed out and cut/paste them into replies to save yourself from reinventing the wheel.
Rethink the way you spend your idle time
Down time is essential to your health and sanity, but many of us squander it on impulsive (as opposed to substantial) indulgences. Take time-sucker websites like Facebook, Pinterest, Tumbler and YouTube. For many of us, typing in the URL to these sites has become a reflexive act: we don’t even know we’re doing it. What’s worse, we passively spend hours a week on these sites without being able to recall a single moment of it. Why not skip passive activities like this for more quality engagement with family, friends, our pets and ourselves?
Can’t control your Web-browsing habit? There’s an app for that!
If you have trouble controlling your web-browsing habit like I do, give Write Room a shot. Basically, Write Room eliminates every opportunity for distraction by transforming your screen into a green and black basic word-processing page. Although WriteRoom won't allow you to create fancy layouts or insert tables and graphs, it will help you stay on track and get words on the page.
For those of you who REALLY can’t control your web-browsing habit…
Check SelfControl, a free Mac OS X (10.5 or above) app that allows language translators to block websites, mail servers, or anything else on the Internet. Simply set the period of time to block, add sites to your blacklist, and click "Start." But keep in mind that you won’t be able to cheat; once you’ve set the time, it can’t be disabled.
Stop working beyond the point of productivity
I used to ignore that ache in my brain that was telling me to stop working and take a break. It took me a while to realize this, but productivity and time are not synonymous. In other words, just because I was working for long stretches of time didn’t mean that I was necessarily being efficient or productive. I may “lose” fifteen minutes by walking away to brew a fresh pot of coffee or take a short walk around the block, but when I come back, I’m usually refreshed and ready to get back to work.