There is a BBC comedy skit program where a typical farmer fellow comes out of a barn and announces, “This year, I shall mainly be wearing Dolce&Gabbana.”. He turns heel in his galoshes, returns to the barn and shuts the door. I am fond of quoting variations on this theme, by way of light relief within the confines of my domestic environment. The similarity of my attire to that of the farmer fellow, minus the galoshes, does not go unnoticed either. This silliness gives balance to the intense cognitive processes involved in translation work.
All of which brings me to that little understood concept of time management. I listened avidly to a seminar presentation on this subject once. I am delighted to report that the speaker overshot her 40-minute time slot by 15 minutes.
I am not sure whether she mentioned it in her “overtime”, but statistics are an integral part of time management. They are essential to the well-being of a translator. You need a benchmark for your performance, whatever level of performance you achieve. It has to be something simple, and quick.
My essentials: hours per week, hours per day, words per hour, words per day, rate per word. Document these in the order that makes sense to you. Document the details doggedly every day. Make a spreadsheet. Now you’ve got your statistics! You also have in front of you a stark statement of the confines of your limitations, set out in unavoidably dry mathematical accuracy.
The next step is the part I like. As the TV chefs say: Now reach for your already-prepared “to do” list, and your thoroughly revised and visualised “goals to achieve” list. Mix the dry ingredients with the juicy bits. Let it crystallise. Next, bake it, fry it, roast it, or poach it, if you like. Do, however, leave it to cool. Now you have a plan. make it work. This is a good time to have a glass of cider. Or emerge from your barn, and declare, “Today, I shall mainly be washing the dishes in my Dolce e Gabbana outfit.”
Note: the word or phrase in bold appeared in my previous blog.