Documents piling on the desk, tight schedule, overflowing inbox , and multiple tabs open on your computer.
In today’s world you often end up having to do dozens of things at the same time. This seems to be the case with almost every profession, which is especially true for freelancers and sole traders, translation professionals included. And although the main job-related activity a freelance translator performs is, well, translating, gone are the days when you could devote your time to just that. Besides juggling multiple projects at the same time, you also need to devote your time to such tasks as research, document preparation, post-editing, proofreading and correcting, managing relationships with your clients and coworkers, handling e-mails, phone calls, marketing and networking, invoicing… The list seems to go on and on, while there’s only 24 hours in a day.
How to use this time effectively and cope with the challenges of multitasking?
Resort to good old checklist
Create a to-do list using the general-to-specific principle. Start by jotting down everything you need to get done and assign days or times for each task. They key thing is to prioritize and always start with those that are the most urgent and need to be tackled straightaway. When preparing a list, it’s a good practice to be slightly pessimistic in estimating how much you will manage to do. Don’t overburden yourself! It’s better to underestimate your productivity and learn you can easily breeze through your list, than realize that you’ve taken on too much.
Relying on a list will free your mind from thinking what else you need to do. It’s also an easy way to make sure you won’t overlook the most important matters.
Check your mailbox on a schedule
An e-mail mailbox is a great tool that helps you connect with other people, but the majority of people overuse it by checking it way too often. If you keep opening it every now and again throughout the day, you end up wasting time. These precious minutes could be used more effectively doing something else and checking mailbox all the time hinders productivity. Instead, you should try to develop a habit of checking it only two or three times a day. It’s often enough not to miss out on anything important, but not to a point of it becoming a distraction itself.
Know your most productive working hours
Are you more of a night owl, or, on the contrary, do you get up with the larks? It’s no secret that no matter how hard you try and how much caffeine you pump into your system, if you’re not an early bird type, it would be incredibly difficult to reach your productivity peak at 8.00a.m. But one of the cool things about being a freelancers (apart from being your own boss!) is that no one can make you work from 9 to five, if you don’t feel like it. You are free to schedule your tasks in a way that suits you most. Use it to your advantage.
Knowing when your most productive work time is can help you better plan your day and is a clever way to ensure you won’t waste your peak time on activities that require less concentration and brainpower.
One task at a time.
Constantly switching from one task to another may look like you’re on top of everything, but in fact, it can take a heavy toll on your productivity. It’s because if you try to juggle two things at the same time, it’s harder for your brain to filter out unnecessary information. Every time you switch between the tasks, you need a few minutes to remember where you’ve stopped. It’s also a lot easier to get distracted and overlook important details or make a mistake. To prevent or limit the loss of performance, group similar tasks. The more similar they are, the easier will it be for you to adapt and perform better.
Staying abreast with the latest tech trends can improve your productivity. One way to boost your translator’s performance and help you work more efficiently, is to invest in a CAT tool. That way your translation will become more coherent, consistent in terms of terminology and of higher quality.
Another pro-tip would be to master your touch-typing skills and the most common keyboard shortcuts (ditch the mouse!). Taking your eyes off the screen or your hands off the keyboard takes precious seconds. However insignificant they may seem, they add up over the course of a document and really make a difference.
Apart from CAT tools and keyboard-related life hacks, there are numerous apps designed to increase productivity. These include calendars, time-managing apps, invoicing tools, social channel management software and distraction removers. Make sure you take some time to explore the tools that can really help you increase your work rate.