To be or not to be … productive? We will be now!

The Tokyo Activities Committee meeting of Saturday October 20 featured twenty-year veteran translator Cathy Eberst reprising and expanding her IJET-29 presentation on productivity.

Cathy began by asking the audience about whether they were productive and/or efficient, and whether there were any differences between these concepts. We were encouraged to examine our own work practices: are we more or less productive at different times of day or days of the week, in different environments, handling different documents types or formats, using PCs or laptops with or without CAT tools, sitting or standing, with or without background music, and so on.

Next, members of the audience suggested their sources of distraction for review: thirst, hunger, mood, weather, toilet, office temperature, stiff shoulders, ergonomics, boredom with subject matter, illness, inability to discern the author’s meaning, badly formatted documents, visual clutter, family, deadlines, emails, social media, natural and artificial lighting, noise, office furniture, phone calls, breaks, and other commitments. These distractions were discussed, and strategies for overcoming them were proposed, together with audience input. Obviously, all translators have varying levels of tolerance for distractions, and it was helpful to hear how people manage their working environment to be most productive.

After a mid-session break, Cathy turned her attention to tools for improving productivity, including those for time tracking, task and calendar management, translation management, and CAT. For the latter, audience members noted the QC advantages that are an added bonus to the productivity enhancements for repetitive documents. Cathy also provided a comprehensive rundown on productivity hacks available within the MS Office environment, including the quick access toolbar, pinning frequently-accessed files, shortcuts, Autocorrect (and the booster add-in for greater efficiency), IME term registration, browser customization, macros, and default settings.

Next, we turned our attention to email management, with plenty of good advice for making sure that the mail in your inbox doesn’t rule your life, except for those messages from clients that must be dealt with promptly. The usefulness of various Web-based applications such as Dropbox and Evernote was also discussed.

Cathy next shared her time management and work tracking systems with the audience, and rounded off the session with further tips on making sure our bodies and minds are in tip-top shape to keep delivering professional work to our clients: get enough sleep; look after your mental health; exercise; eat and drink well; take rest when required; enjoy your work; stay focused; reward yourself; account to others; be professional; and so on.

All in all, a comprehensive and well-structured presentation with plenty of nuggets for even the most experienced among us. Of course, followed as usual by a lively gathering for food and drinks in the Shinagawa Station complex.

I’d like to give big thank-you too, to the volunteers from TAC who ran the event smoothly: Erika Ogihara, Yoriko Aoyama, Chisako Inoshita, and Akiko Endo as MC.

Tony Atkinson

President, JAT