Whether you are a night owl or an early bird, in the midst of a large translation project keeping concentration levels high can be a problem. Here are some tips to keep the mind on the job!
Work in the right environment . Choose a place where you feel comfortable, where you have everything you need to hand and where you will not be disturbed. There is no standard for this. Some people may prefer working at a desk in a designated office space. Others may feel more comfortable with a laptop in their favourite armchair. A “quiet” workplace may not suit everyone : some work better with background music on or the family pet in the vicinity. The location is not important : what is important is not to let outside influences become a source of distraction.
Plan your day and set targets. No translator can be expected to work 24 hours a day (although many of us may feel as if we do!) Plan your working day realistically, leaving ample time for meals and breaks. Breaking the task in hand into smaller parts will make it seem less daunting and help you approach it with more positivity.
Do one thing at a time. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking breeds distraction. If you are translating, translate. If you are issuing invoices, issue invoices. If you are taking a break, take a break.
Plan around your strengths and weaknesses. For example, some people are early risers and if you know you lose 30% of your focus past midnight, plan around that. Night owls should take advantage of the lack of distractions present at night.
Sit comfortably. People who have short attention spans and faulty concentration are usually restless people. If you watch them you will notice them making a lot of unnecessary movements like shaking hands and legs while sitting, talking etc. On the other hand, people who have sound concentration are usually calm and composed. They sit and stand still without any unnecessary movements. Being comfortable and avoiding unnecessary movements will help you preserve your valuable energy, maintain composure and improve concentration.
Eat properly. Research on the connection between a person’s mood and the food he or she eats has shown that foods high in carbohydrates, such as sugar, cereals and pasta, can produce a temporary increase in brain serotonin which has a calming effect and can lead to drowsiness. Instead, foods high in dopamine and norepinephrine, such as fish, cheese and bananas produce a feeling of alertness and an increased ability to concentrate. The size of your meal is also important. Avoid large meals which slow down the blood flow and cause the body to feel sleepy and sluggish.
Make time for exercise. Good overall health helps you focus and keeping fit is important. Translators spend most of our time sitting and a short spell of exercise when concentration is waning can be refreshing and liberating.
Plan on re-reading your work at least 12 hours after you have completed it, if possible after a good night’s sleep! The brain easily absorbs itself in what it is doing to the point that it does not recognize mistakes if it has been staring at them for too long!