Last week, we began to discuss why organizational skills matter when it comes to translation. We looked at three aspects of organization: physical, mental and time management and concluded that organizational skills lead to success via many paths. Being organized not only increases quality and productivity, but when combined with a solid business plan, it can help freelance businesses or small companies grow and evolve. We took a little peak at Aristotle’s philosophy of virtue and found that excellence is not an act, but a habit. Therefore, to lead to positive results, organization has to become a habit in our daily work routine. Now the question is, how do we do develop this habit? The first thing we need to do is learn how to get organized. In my experience, organization starts with effective time management and this can be achieved with four simple steps.
1. Tracking Tasks
Tracking tasks is simple; your goal is to gather as much information as possible about where your time is going. For a few days, simply jot down everything you do and how long it takes. Don’t leave any part of your routine out: include breaks, meals, leisure time, communication with clients, even things you do to procrastinate! The more information you have, the easier it will be to identify potential room for improvement.
2. Establishing Priorities
Now that you know where your time is actually going, the next thing you need to figure out is what can be cut down to optimize your time and how to redirect your effort to more important or more time consuming tasks. To do this, you will need to have a very clear picture of what your priorities are.
Once you know how your time can be optimized, the next thing you need to do is develop a plan that is consistent with both your priorities and the actual time you have for each. Most of our work is centered on projects that need to be completed by a specific deadline. As translators, we are used to planning on the basis of translated words per day. But, as you probably realized when doing steps one and two, focusing on how many words you can translate per day as if you lived in a vacuum is not effective because your day is filled with dozens of other tasks that are much more time consuming than you probably originally thought. When planning, keep all this mind and try to develop a realistic plan based on all the new information you have acquired.
Once you’ve set priorities and developed a plan, draw out a schedule for materializing that plan and then stick to it. Personally, I’m old fashioned and like to pencil things into my eco-friendly non-techy agenda. More modern types use techy or online tools for managing their agendas. It doesn’t really matter what kind of schedule you keep, just as long as it’s clear, consistent with steps 1-3, and neat enough to be easy to use and understand.
Of course, there’s a lot more to organization than just time management. This is just the beginning, so visit us again soon for more tips for getting organized!