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Living without stress is a luxury for many people. We are used to the fact that in order to get rid of work-related tensions, everyday duties and fears for the future, we need to spend money or a lot of time. Both of these resources are scarce these days. But there are effective, fast, clever and completely free ways to deal with stress. Who knows, perhaps it could even become your ally?
How does stress affect us?
Low stress can motivate you, it can help focus faster, make you more effective and productive. You might even be inclined to say that moderate stress in professional life is necessary. However, it may happen that stress becomes the dominant feeling. In such a case it’s difficult to fully focus on your tasks. Additionally, the longer and more stressed you are, the worse we feel. It has a negative impact on your sleep pattern, weakens you immune system and generally decreases the quality of your life. Stress affects both your mind, but also our body. Therefore, if you notice it spoils your mood and becomes too much to handle, perhaps it’s worth making an effort to deal with it.
What stresses at work?
Basically anything. Having too much, or too little work, communication with clients or co-workers, unpaid invoices – all of these might contribute to your stress level. It seems especially true for freelancers, who need to take care of everything themselves.
Improve your time management
Unfortunately, inadequate working time management is often the cause of excessive stress. It might happen if you take on too many tasks, or fail to realize that completing some of the projects will require more time and effort. That’s why you should take some time when accepting new assignments and try to negotiate deadlines. If possible, give yourself some time margin, just to be on the safe side.
What also works is diving bigger tasks into smaller ones. Completing your work step by step, gives you a sense of progress and can be motivating. That way it will be easier to focus on more challenging projects.
If you have difficulty concentrating, even when the tasks are relatively small, it’s worth to write down everything you have to do that day. Place the most important and most difficult tasks at the top of the list. These items should be taken care of with priority. Once the most demanding tasks are done, the other ones – by contrast – will seem extremely easy. A well-prepared to-do-list can give you a sense of control over your work and has a potential to decrease your stress level.
Consider physical activity
Sport is the best way to relieve prolonged stress and prevent its recurrence. Every form of intensive activity creates a good mood. Focusing on physical activity makes you distance yourself from your problems gain a new perspective. When practiced regularly will help you better control your emotions. What’s more you will get rid of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone. It’s important though to choose a discipline you find pleasurable and tailored to your abilities.
Change the way you think about stress
This is a method presented at a TED conference by a health psychologist Kelly McGonigal. As she said in her speech, according to the latest research, exposure to stressing factors can be very harmful, increasing the risk of death by 43%, but only in the case of those who believe that stress will actually harm them. That’s why a change in the perspective about stress alone can transform your body’s reactions into ones that do not paralyze or block you, but help you thrive.
Remember that the increased heartbeat and fast breathing you experience in a stressful situation is a set of reactions that prepare your body to face a difficult task. It’s the way your body gives you courage. However, chronic stress is unhealthy and can lead to coronary heart disease in the long term. But, as McGonial claims, those who find stress-related body reactions helpful, have their arteries relaxed, and the quick heartbeat resembles one that occurs in moments of joy.
Today let’s look at some common good practices worth remembering when delivering a translation project to a client. You know, all those little things that may trivial, but contribute to the way your work is received. Because it might happen that even if your translation is faithful and of superb quality but it looks sloppy, you might not make a very good impression. Why don’t you look at the handful of tips below, to see if there’s anything you might want to improve.
Best practices: #1 Sticking to the deadline
It’s one of the most crucial factors to take into account. If you promise your client that a given document will be ready by Friday 5.00 am, do the best you can to make it happen. It’s true that you can do only what you can do, and delays might happen due to some reasons. If, after browsing through the text, you anticipate any problems that might contribute to a delay, try to inform your client as soon as possible. Chances are they might dispel your doubts or you might be able to negotiate the terms that satisfy the both of you.
Best practices: #2 Meticulous scrutiny
This one goes without saying. It is the language that is your workshop, so using it proficiently proves your skills. A good translator should be able to express a thought in another language easily and with native-like accuracy, and have an adequate knowledge of the subject matter. But there’s more to translation than the obvious. You shouldn’t forget about the general impression the content creates during the reception. First of all, it should look neat: uniform, consistent formatting without unnecessary spaces, expanded spacing, etc. It might happen that a small typo or a missing comma might escape your attention, but try as much as you can to avoid such situations by using built-in spell checker and proofreading the text before handing it in. A good idea will be to ask somebody else (a colleague, a co-worker, etc.) to do the proofreading for you.
Best practices: #3 Sticking to the original formatting
If a document you received has some part of the text clearly separated from the rest, headings and footnotes, you might want to stick to the original layout. Failing to do so, would seem unprofessional and troublesome for your client. Most CAT tools these days are able to preserve the original formatting of the input text, so this should never be a problem.
Apply the same regard to the format of the received text. For instance, a pptx. presentation shouldn’t be sent in a docx, unless the client explicitly wishes you to do so.
It may not always be easy. Sometimes some documents require conversion from one format to another, to be able to get down to work. In some cases, preparing and converting the file is so time-consuming, you might want to charge extra for all the additional work. To avoid any misunderstandings, it’s advisable to notify your client in advance.
Best practices: #4 Keeping the original file name
An easy-to-forget trifle, especially if you’re up to your eyes in work, but it will make your life so much easier. And it’s a mutual benefit. It makes it easier for you to archive finished projects, and the client knows exactly what kind of documents they receive from you.
Best practices: #5 Keeping the email thread intact
Thesedays our inboxes have become overflowing with numerous messages. Without conversation threads, it might be difficult to have everything under control and keep track of your correspondence. Never delete single messages from the conversation, to make sure nothing is overlooked. When you send your translation back, you should also do it in response to the previous message. For the same reason, it’s advisable to keep the email subject intact. That way you’ll avoid confusion and save your (and your client’s) time. Unless, of course, you feel that starting a new email thread is necessary.
These days almost everyone uses a computer either for work, pleasure or both. But even though you might use it on a daily basis, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can really call yourself computer-literate. There are certain computer skills everyone should poses to avoid unpleasant surprises or to be able to work more efficiently. Check your computer knowledge and find out how tech-savvy you really are! You should also check out the computer tricks and skilles described here.
Basic computer knowledge: #1 Sharing files between computers
Gone are the days when the easiest way to share a file with someone was using a flash-drive stick. Your operation system comes with a few file-sharing capabilities. This might come in handy, both when working in an office, where you need to share a file with a fellow translator or project manager. It also work if you use both a laptop, a notebook or a desktop for work and want to share files between all the computers in your house. This article details a few options on how to do this, but you can also use a file-sharing apps such as dropbox.
Basic computer knowledge: #2 Protect your PC from crapware
Crapware (or bloatware) refers to unwanted software that gets installed on your computer. It can be anything from free trials, browser toolbars, PC optimization tools, programs that change your default search engine and intrusive ads. Apart from being simply annoying, these are usually hard to get rid of and they can dramatically slow down your computer.
Removing the free trials and demos is relatively easy. You can use the Windows built-in uninstaller or resort to more powerful tools such as Revo Uninstaller. With just a few clicks of the mouse it can scan your PC and get rid of unwanted pre-installed software. It can be a great tool to remove other kinds of bloatware too, for instance, the ones that add new toolbars or alter the search engines. These are usually much more annoying and tricky to uninstall. If you’re looking for something more automatic, opt for AdwCleaner. Or better – to achieve better results – use both of them.
How to avoid crapware in the first place?
Crapware programs are usually bundled together with other (often free) software you install on your computer. That’s why it’s advisable to be careful when downloading apps from the internet. If possible, try to do it directly from the home page and avoid third-party installers. When installing, never just click ‘next’ or ‘agree’ without actually reading the installation wizard messages. Look for checkboxes on the download page, and uncheck the pieces of software you consider unnecessary.
Basic computer knowledge: #3 Keep your computer virus-free
Getting your computer infected by a virus is many users’ nightmare, that’s why anti-virus programs are a must thesedays. Look for some good free anti-virus software, like Avast or Bitdefender to protect your hard drive against cyber attacks. What else can you do? It never hurts to develop a somewhat sceptical attitude when it comes to handling e-mails. Never open attachments or links that appears suspicious to you. And again – if possible, when installing new programs and apps, use their home page. Avoid installing anything from unknown sources.
Basic computer knowledge: #4 Use shortcuts
One of the greatest advantage computers have over humans, is that they can do a lot of things much faster. Image having to perform complicated calculations without the help of technology. No picnic, right? Translating a document without a computer (and dedicated software) would also be a rather mundane and time-consuming activity. Thanks to shortcuts, you can perform some simple operations more easily and smoothly. There are hundreds of shortcuts that can come in handy on regular basis, although it may take a while to master them in the first place. Don’t forget about a number of Déja Vu shortcuts to boost your productivity while transating!
Basic computer knowledge: #5 Back up your data
Everyone knows about the importance of backing up your files. But a lot of people doesn’t actually do it and only promises themselves to do it “one day”. However, setting up a backup system doesn’t take a lot of time, and it’s definitely something you would be grateful for in case of an emergency such as theft, hard drive failure, or fire etc. Imagine losing some important documents, business correspondence, translation memory. Can you really afford the risk? Stop pushing it back and making excuses. Consider backing up your files to an external drive or better, opt for a cloud computing option, such as Crashplan or Blackblaze. A good approach is to combine multiple backups, but at least set up just one.