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Effective time management is an extremely desirable competence. Who wouldn’t want to work better and more efficiently to get more time for themselves and their families? While it is hard to underestimate the value of having more time for family life, there are other benefits too. Better organization and time management is often reflected in the finances as well. Time is money, as they say. And it’s by no means just a popular saying! So, here’s another portion of useful and cool apps to try out to help you get things done more efficiently. Make sure you’ve read previous articles on apps and tools here and here.
Cool Apps #1: OFFICE LENS
In a nutshell, Office Lens is like a scanner in your pocket. Thanks to it you can take a photo of a document, an article, etc. and the application will change the image into a scan, which can also be saved in pdf format. Then the app groups the scans for convenient reading. Integration with the cloud means that it doesn’t waste time on e.g. scanning invoices for accountants or transferring files between the scanner and the computer.
Cool Apps #2: IFTTT
A truly powerful tool. IFTTT works on quite a simple principle. The name is an acronym from (If This, Then That). The tool allows you to script repetitive actions and makes your work easier. In other words, it is used to automate processes and to create schematics by the user, by which IFTTT acts. For example, you can create a schema (called a recipe in IFTTT) that will cause the printer to receive a command to print, when the document is uploaded to the appropriate folder in the cloud. Or you can make sure that any exported translation project is automatically saved in the Dropbox.
Cool Apps #3: NOZBE
Nozbe is an app that combines multiple functions. It can be both a calendar, a to-do-list, and – if you work with other translators, editors, project managers etc. – it can, in a sense, act as a communicator in a team. It is compatible with various e-mail boxes and clouds. But that’s not all, because you can configure Nozbe to have access to notes created in Evernote, as well as Google and Office documents. The app is very intuitive and user-friendly. What’s also important is the fact that it looks and behaves the same on all devices and it’s affordable even for sole traders and small businesses.
Cool Apps #4: NOISILI
Something for those of you who sometimes have trouble staying focused, and get easily distracted by what’s going on around you. An app that allows you to mute the environment with a set of sounds selected by the user. You can choose from 16 sliding sliders – each of them is a specific sound – for example, the sound of birds, a river, a travelling train or a café. The slider determines the volume of the sound. The application changes the background colour, which is supposed to stimulate the brain too. The application also has a simple and distraction-free text editor.
Cool Apps #5: 7 WEEKS
Basically, it’s a tool for tracking habits. Banally simple and at the same time incredibly functional. It is based on an assumption that you choose the habit you want to develop, and the app generates a calendar. You indicate whether or not you have completed the action on each day or not. Another cool feature is the possibility to set reminders and keep statistics and charts on how much you have already managed to do.
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.