I’m a teacher and LBS program coordinator as well as a small business owner. Because I work two jobs, I want, and I need to be productive. To me, being productive doesn’t mean working harder, it means working smarter to get through my to-do list faster while doing an excellent job. Work smart, work fast, work well. Let me share some of my tips on how to be a productive leader.
- Look at the Big Picture: Understand and analyze what needs to be done. Decide what is important, what is urgent, what is a priority, and what can be delegated. Know your stuff and make sure your staff members know what is expected of them.
- Organize and Plan: Break up large projects into small tasks and attainable milestones. Organize your time with an agenda, to-do list, daily priority list and use visuals such as Post-its or large dry-erase multi-month calendars. Take time to get organized and stay organized. No matter how busy you are, schedule time to regularly meet with your staff. Make time to listen to their concerns.
I am a freelance translator. This means that I work as a certified translator, and I am a business owner. I manage all aspects of my business including invoicing, marketing, and of course, translating. Not all translators are meant to become business owners. It takes a special kind of person to enjoy the ups and downs of running a business. But I am that special kind of person.
I’ve been in business since 2008, and I absolutely love it. I work from home, evenings and weekends, after my regular day job. I don’t recommend becoming a freelance translator without having a background in business management. It takes grit, determination, and self-confidence. You need to make decisions on pricing, services, purchases, etc. It is easier to make these decisions when accompanied by work and life experiences.
If you have never worked for someone else and you are a new translator, freelancing might not be your thing. If you are sure that freelancing is for you, keep reading.
COVID allowed me to press the reset button. Start over. Learn new skills. Adapt and innovate. Challenges are usually the root of innovation and problem solving. When I am faced with a challenge, I like to look outside the box. Problem was… when COVID hit, there was no box! We were in the unknown. Everybody was looking for answers. So, what did I do? I registered to a whole bunch of webinars. I organized staff meetings to find solutions as a group. I evaluated and adapted our processes and procedures. Hence, I embraced the challenge, and I ran with it. I figured that there was nothing I could do but accept it, so I did.
As a certified translator and business owner, I was very busy during the pandemic. I had to find ways to be productive and not fall victim to COVID fatigue. My eyes were tired of staring at a screen all day and my body ached from sitting all the time. So, I found solutions that worked for me.
The last thing a busy person wants to hear is: “Quit something, you are doing too much!” I enjoy being busy. It’s a lifestyle choice. And I love all my jobs (translator, music teacher and alternative high school / LBS program coordinator). Why quit one? I wouldn’t know which one to choose: my three jobs bring me joy, a sense of accomplishment, a challenge, lots of learning opportunities, and I get to meet and work with wonderful people. So, when I recently read the following post on social media: “Learn to take breaks, not quit,” I learned to do just that. I integrated more planned and worthy breaks into my schedule.
Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself to make your breaks count.
Being a good translator also means being good at revising documents. Attention to detail is pivotal when revising and proofreading a document. Here are tips that may help improve your revision and proofreading skills:
1. Find a time when your concentration level is at its peak. I work best in the morning.
2. Limit visual distractions in your document. If your document is crammed with pictures, copy and paste the text in a separate document. Focus on details such as spelling, typography, grammar and punctuation, and not on the visual appearance of the document.
Did you know? The idea of sticky notes with adhesive was conceived in 1974? They have been around for quite some time. And, thank goodness for Post-it notes! My life would be in chaos if I didn’t have these little life-reminder notes! Let me show you how I use sticky notes.
Stick to Colours!
I consider myself an effective and organized person. I like to organize my tasks with coloured Post-its where each task is written on a note that refers to a coloured system of organization, for example, blue refers to my translation business, pink is school related, green is music lessons, etc. This system helps me to visually get a glimpse of my week and the tasks I have to accomplish.
Translating documents from a language to another requires a sharp mind. Because we all know that physical health and mental health often go together, I try to keep a healthy and active brain by practising healthy eating habits. Here are examples of my brain-boosting foods. I often munch on these before or while I work.
- Blueberries contain anthocyanins which help improve memory and delay short term memory loss.
- Blackberries contain polyphenols that help neurons communicate with each other allowing the brain to absorb new information.
- Tomatoes contain lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant that protects against dementia.
Music is a big part of my life. I play instruments, sing, and listen to music on a daily basis. I’ve been playing piano for more than 35 years. The classical music education that I have received as a child has helped me become an excellent communicator, writer, and translator.
It is no secret that music is beneficial to communication development. Singing improves phonological awareness, pitch awareness, vocabulary and sentence development as well as rhythm. Learning to play an instrument improves auditory memory, tone and phrasing, and it teaches your brain to conduct many activities at once. Overall, music is a multi-sensory activity that stimulates the brain and develops verbal, communication and visual skills.
Personally, I think I am a better translator because of music.
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