The Clock Is Ticking: Time Management for Translators

The Clock Is Ticking: Time Management for Translators

Have you ever sat back from your computer to realize you’ve been hunched over the keyboard for hours, you can’t remember the last time you ate something besides the potato chips sitting on your desk, the clock says it’s way past time for bed, and you aren’t really sure what your family is doing because you haven’t seen them since morning? It generally happens at least once to every translator, and few translators want to repeat the experience. Here are a few tips from the IATE blog on managing time as a translator in order to avoid stressful, last minute projects:

  • Be proactive: Manage your schedule instead of letting it manage you. Write things down so that you know exactly what needs to happen when. By consciously planning your work, you can see how much time tasks will take and how much time will be left over. Often translators find they have more time than they thought, which enables them to take more projects and work more efficiently without increasing their stress level.
  • Take charge of your schedule: Working a 12-14 hour day leads to stress, fatigue, and frustration—none of which enable a translator to do their best work. Plan a block of time to work on a big project and then plan something else for later. Alternating between projects can give your mind a break and help you stay focused without becoming tired and frustrated from working on the same project all day long—and in most cases, both projects can still be completed in the same amount of time.
  • Learn to multitask: If you plan your time in advance, you can work on several projects at once. Prepare time slots for each project and stick to the plan. You’ll be able to accomplish more and take on more jobs, as well as eliminate random blocks of unproductive down time on slower days.
  • Take care of yourself: Planning your time lowers your stress, which helps you perform better as a translator. Don’t let projects slip to the last minute and steal your dinner or resting time. A well-balanced life is essential in any profession, and translators are no exception.

Although in some cases there are unexpected problems or delays that cause a project to take more time than was planned, most of the time using effective time management techniques will lead to a more balanced and productive workday. Planning in advance and agreeing to deadlines accordingly, prioritizing projects, and sticking to a balanced schedule go a long way in helping a translator work quickly and efficiently to complete an accurate and professional translation.

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