Translators are like readers – there are texts they love working on and texts they don’t really feel attracted to but take on as these help pay the bills.
Broadly speaking, the size and topic are the main factors that are likely to influence the speed (and joy!) with which a translator will be doing his or her job. In addition, there are several elements related to the personal characteristics of the individual, such as familiarity with the topic, typing speed, the complexity of the resources he or she can make use of, the amount of time the translator can spend each day for the project, etc., which can speed up or slow down the process towards meeting the deadline.
Here are some tips that might help you cope with the pressure of a long and challenging project:
Divide the whole into manageable pieces
Some translators can spend long hours in front of their computer without ever feeling tired or bored with what they do. However, it is wiser for you to do some math before starting work on the project. How many days can you take to translate the whole thing? How many pages a day should you complete in order to be on the safe side?
Deciding upon a precise number of equal ‘portions’ of the whole does not necessarily mean you should stick to the plan and waste time when you could do more work on certain days. If you feel like burning the candle at both ends once in a while, feel free to do so. It will only give you the feeling that what you are expected to do is ‘quite doable’, even less strenuous than you initially thought. Besides, what if something unexpected comes up one day and you will be unable to work at all? The extra work you have previously done will give you a positive feeling and allow you to ‘wander’ off your job for a day or two later on.
Surround yourself with little ‘treats’
Your work desk should not be a hostile spot where you exclusively keep your laptop/computer together with heaps of paper and reference books. You need room for a cup of coffee or tea and a plate or bowl containing your favourite crackers or biscuits or, for the more health-conscious ones, carrot batons or some fruit. While you are squeezing your brains out for the best term or expression, you use up energy which needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Having too many regular breaks may not be the best solution. Why interrupt the stream of your ideas when you can both think and ‘ingest’ energy boosters? Let your hand slip off the keyboard and get yourself a treat from the ‘goodie’ plate and take a sip from the steaming cup of ‘vital liquid’ lying beside you. Keeping food and drink at hand will save time in the long run.
Shelter yourself from the outside world
A very important aid to the contemporary computer worker is his or her ability to keep away any distraction that the internet might provide. When you are working on something important or difficult, it is advisable that you should forget about social networks and your ‘beloved’ smart phone for as long as you are supposed to stay ‘engrossed’ in the project. Leave such interferences for the main ‘regular’ breaks or the end of the day. The time we are tempted to spend online is rather difficult to keep track of. It seems that time flies at a much higher speed when we are using the World Wide Web or chatting to a close friend on the phone. If you really want to maximise your involvement and, consequently, to reduce the amount of time spent working, you must log off all social networks and keep your mobile phone in silent mode.
Use CAT tools
Contrary to what most people (still) think, CAT tools are not an enemy to avoid at all costs, but a friend who can help, especially when dealing with big projects. First and foremost, I would like to point out that the biggest advantage they offer is consistency. When you are working on a lengthy translation (except literature, I really can’t see the point in using them there), being consistent throughout is important and CAT tools can really come in handy.
Love what you do
Loving your job may actually be the best aid you can have, as it will make anything seem easier. You may still feel frustrated by the approaching deadline or that dreadful term you cannot find anywhere, but imagine having to face the same issues in a job you hate (or let’s say you don’t particularly like).