A couple of months ago I attended a time and self-management seminar in connection with my local translation association’s mentoring programme. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect since I already felt like I had time management down to a T: as a busy full-time legal translator with two primary school aged children I’m always managing my time, of which I don’t have nearly enough, but I seem to get everything done, have never missed a deadline for delivering a translation to a client and haven’t even needed to pull an all-nighter due to mismanagement for a very long time. However, I’m always open to new ideas, tips and approaches and went along with an open mind.
The seminar was very interactive and it soon became clear that each and every one of us, whether mentor with many years of experience or mentee just starting out, has his or her own personal struggles with time – and for a wide variety of different reasons: motivation, other responsibilities, distractions… As such there is no one-size fits all solution to problems with time management but I would say that it is definitely worth spending some time looking into the different classic time management strategies to see if you can pick up any tips which could help you to work more efficiently so that you make the most effective use of your time. There are lots of time management books around which you could dip into and lots of information about time management on the internet.
Here are the top 3 tips which I learned and took away with me from the seminar I attended:
1) Only plan 60% of your time – leave plenty of leeway for unexpected events – these may be of a business or of a private nature but they will come…
2) If there are tasks which are important to your professional, business or even personal development which are not priority A tasks (i.e. actual paid work), it is a good idea to get used to blocking periods of time to work on these priority B tasks either every day or a few times a week – this avoids the feeling of frustration which arises when you don‘t make any progress on something which is important to you.
3) Stopping and starting (to answer the phone, read and write a quick email) reduces productivity by up to 30%. Block working is much more effective: perhaps you could answer emails on block every couple of hours and write a whole heap of invoices once a week rather than after delivering each translation?
Do you have any time-management tips you’d like to share? Feel free to post them in the comments box below.