Freelance translators sell their time translating as a service. Maximizing output of translated words over time, therefore, increases income. But output is governed by productivity, which in turn is influenced by distraction.
As a freelance translator, I experience many distractions: family, chores, surfing the internet, watching tv, shopping for groceries, you name it. Once I’m distracted, I find it hard to get back on track. This is how I lose productivity.
How, then, can attention be maximized and distraction minimized? I think the first step is to break away from the habit of working 8 hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Some people are more focused early in the morning, while others can concentrate better late at night. Unless working by the hour, I find it to be more productive to work during my most focused hours.
A successful freelance translation career cannot be separated from good time management. Some indicators of time management in freelance translation are translation output per hour, translation output per day, translation output per week and translation output per month.
Translating at maximum capacity for an hour will not convert to maximum output per day. Likewise, translating at maximum capacity for a day will not convert to maximum output per week. No one can work at maximum capacity for days on end. Only machines can. Attention is lost; quality is impacted. That’s why time needs to be managed.
I personally use the Pomodoro Technique to manage my time. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that breaks down work time into 25 minute intervals followed by a 5 minute break. After four 25 minute intervals, a longer 15 minute break is taken. This ensures better attention and less distraction during the 25 minutes.
I usually do four 25-minute intervals early in the morning, four during the day, and four late at night. That’s only 6 hours of work, including 30 minutes of break. I don’t work 8 hours or only during the day. But I get more done, I experience less stress, and I produce more in the long run–all thanks to time management.