Wednesday, 5 June 2019

The benefits of a minimised writing space

Clear thinking is a crucial prerequisite to the work of translators and writers, as is the implementation of bespoke measures towards it. Joshua Becker argues that minimising our writing space will help maximize our potential because we thereby free up our minds and consequently think more clearly.

The opportunity of a minimised writing space

He suggests a 6-step process that we can apply to enjoy the opportunity of a minimised writing space. It includes clearing out cabinets and drawers; reducing the number of books; simplifying walls and bulletin boards, etc. Check out the whole list in his article “The Possibilities of a Decluttered Writing Space”.

We can implement a whole host of steps that will help us think more clearly

You can create a more focused writing space simply by tossing out clutter. From my own experience I can confirm that minimising my office space has indeed been empowering: I’ve created a distraction-free setting in which I can work with enhanced focus.

My family is aware that, if the need should arise, I would be happy to move my office to the smallest room in our property. Giving up my larger office space would be an easy thing for me to do as, following the implementation of a number of minimisation measures, I don’t keep much stuff in it any more.

Office space minimisation measures

Measures to minimise office space which I implemented in recent years have included, for example:

- I’ve reduced the number of books on my shelves by parting with any books that I know I will probably never use again (while keeping all dictionaries, even outdated ones, and most reference works).

- I switched from paper to electronic bank statements as soon as this option became available. Interestingly, both my German bank and my British bank started offering this facility at about the same time!

- I’ve scanned all articles of the ITI Bulletin which I consider useful or beautiful (to me, at least) and therefore worth keeping. I’ve stored the scans on various external hard drives and binned any physical copies (exception: magazines containing articles written by myself).

- I’ve created a clear desktop by keeping only what I consider as essentials. These days my desktop only includes: my computer screen, keyboard, mouse, and landline office phone; paper dictionaries if needed; a booklet with motivational, serenity-stimulating words; and (usually) a cup of green tea.

As writers and translators we can implement a whole host of steps that will help us think more clearly. Minimising or decluttering our writing spaces is one of them.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

A translator’s typical Bank Holiday weekend?

How do we achieve the perfect weekend? And how do you prefer to spend a long Bank Holiday weekend? My own Bank Holiday weekend went like this:

Come Friday evening, and I was knackered. Knackered because of a whole week’s full-time translation work and everything that entails: reading, thinking, typing, re-writing, revising, dealing with enquiries, invoicing. So on Friday evening, again, I could not bring myself to do a lot – just relax.

Saturday morning, as almost always, saw me participating in my local parkrun at Pomphrey Hill. No weekend to me ever feels complete without parkrun! It provides a welcome opportunity to “run off” the stresses of the past week and meet other local runners for a chat.

In the evening, while on my way with my husband to the Alma Tavern Theatre in Bristol to watch the very excellent “Beyond the Brink” performance by Remania Productions (with yet another out-of-this-world performance by Colin Smith on the keys!), I picked up an email about an urgent project from a long-standing client.

This could have seen me change my weekend plans from one minute to the next as it presented the opportunity to participate in a (tempting!) translation project from Sunday morning. I can see the point that checking emails at weekends is generally not advisable: it gives the impression to clients that you’re always there, always available and always working.

Yet, if it feels right to you to check emails at weekends too, why not? I did reply to my client’s email, although I did not then participate in the project. In any case, I think it is lovely to know that there is always a lot of translation work around. And I am free to decide when I want to work and when not, and how much work I want to take on.

As a translator who loves her job, I am also almost always in translation mode! So on Sunday morning I seized the opportunity to first revise a translation of patent claims on paper, which I had already printed off a couple of days before. Then I also had a quick look through the German translation of an (older) English post for this blog.

As a minimalist, I so often think that you really don’t need (and often even don’t need to spend) much to experience a serene, thoroughly fulfilling day: after helping out with teas and coffees at one of the churches in my community, a few lovely chats and then having lunch with my family at home, I set off on a bike ride to Bath on the scenic Bristol-to-Bath cycle track. Everyone else was busy, so I enjoyed going on my own.

An afternoon such as this one – spent simply and differently from what I usually do during the week – can feel luxurious: cycling and enjoying some beautiful scenery; spending an hour or so in a stylish, eclectic eatery (as the Chapel Arts Café in Bath is currently closed, I chose Prêt-à-Manger instead); finishing my current book whilst treating myself to a few special things to eat and drink; and watching the world go by for a bit before heading back home again.

I started working again on (Bank Holiday) Monday in the afternoon.

In a nutshell: a translator’s typical Bank Holiday weekend can be a mixture of lots of different activities, from exercise to indulging your senses, which help recharge your batteries. But it can also consist of work. And translation work on a Bank Holiday weekend often doesn't even feel wrong! 

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Human translation simply explained

Why do we need translators? (I mean those of the human type, not computer programmes, by the way.)

And why is there such a huge demand, a growing demand, for human translation?

What exactly is it that keeps human translators so busy? This is perhaps a futile discussion as so many people wouldn’t get it anyway. Perhaps because they’re too simple-minded, too lacking in the understanding of the workings of language, or simply too young, to understand.

It is typically sophisticated people, with a certain level of education, who are very surprised when I tell them: yes, there are people out there who do believe translation nowadays is (or should be) carried out by Google Translate or similar tools.

Why is there such a huge demand, a growing demand, for human translation?

No doubt translation is a matter of huge complexity, and explaining to others what translation typically involves is complex, too. Why is the demand for human translation huge? Simple answers, in my opinion, are best. For example:

I translate texts that are too difficult for Google Translate.

Try translating a complex technical text using Google Translate, and you’ll see it won’t work.

Machine translations often look correct at first sight, but when you look more closely, they aren’t.

The texts which I’m given to translate are confidential and mustn’t be fed into Google.

Most translations need a human touch, and my job is to put this human touch to translations.

A computer isn’t particularly good at producing natural translations. In the end, even very technical translations need to sound natural.

Translation is a hugely complex matter, yet sometimes we should avoid complex words to explain translation to others. Explaining translation simply often is best!

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Reducing office time by prioritising and batching

We don’t have enough time. We are generally too busy. Right?

Leo Babauta, one of my favourite writers on the topics of minimalism and mindfulness, has written a blog post with suggestions on how to spend time more intentionally. He claims that when we say we don’t have enough time for a particular activity, we are actually saying: “I DON’T WANT TO DO IT”. You’ll find the whole article here.

Leo Babauta recommends, inter alia, taking ownership of our time by prioritising categories of tasks and batching them. This has reminded me of how, in the summer of 2012, I took books away with me on holiday, in the hope that they would help me figure out ways of reducing my office working hours.

We can take ownership of our time: for example, by batching tasks

At the time, I’d been completely exhausted and overworked, feeling I wouldn’t be able to carry on like this. The books which had been recommended to me pre-holiday included: “Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers (which I loved and have blogged about here), “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss (which I wasn’t such a great fan of), and a few others.

I managed to extract a few helpful ideas from these books, which I put into practice back home in the office. One of them involved prioritising and batching any related tasks. This is what I learnt: working on related tasks in batches and blocking out time for them is way more efficient than switching back and forth between individual tasks!

As it turns out, prioritising and batching works across the board. See, for example, the articles “The Definitive Guide to ‘Batching’ Your Work” or “How to Batch Your Tasks for Maximum Productivity”. In fact, many posts on the blog you’re just reading were batch-produced: I have a habit of writing blog posts in a batch – but then publish them weeks or months later.

It’s a myth that we generally don’t have enough time. We WILL find the time for an activity if it IS important to us. And we can take ownership of our time: for example, by batching tasks.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

5 simple techniques for making time

Making time and achieving serenity – it’s not actually as difficult as we might think!

I recently enjoyed reading the article “Time Management Hacks That Very Successful People Practice Daily” by John Rampton. It sets out proven, realistic techniques that very successful people apply in managing their time.

Famous, successful people use time management techniques that even teach us how to make time

For this blog post I’ve picked out techniques from the article that stood out for me. I’ll also, where appropriate, set out my own variations on them (as I love using some of the techniques myself):

1. Have a fixed morning routine.

Richard Branson writes: “While I’m known for being predictably unpredictable – I’m always up for an adventure and love a calculated risk – I do, however, have a morning and nightly routine. I find structure to start and finish the day helps me to focus, and achieve the things I need to.”

My own (weekday) morning routine includes: waking up relatively early; spending 10 minutes on my favourite yoga poses; having breakfast over something worthwhile to read; bathroom time and catching up on the news via my internet radio; and then diving straight into work in my (home) office.

I love this routine as it sets me up for the day. I established it after reading Laura Vanderkam’s bestselling books, “What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast” and “168 Hours”, a couple of years ago (which I’ve blogged about here).

2. Keep your to-do list short.

John Rampton recommends making “knockout lists” and mentions Marcus Lemonis, who works through a list of 5 things every day. Many readers of this blog will know that I prefer to be even more minimal about to-do lists: I have reduced my daily to-dos to just 3 key tasks.

Having a 3-item to-do list has worked wonderfully for me for quite some time, and it works for a lot of other people, too. I’ve found that, thanks to my minimal to-do list, I now do more of the things that I love or consider important.

3. Check your email less frequently.

Email notoriously sucks up time. John Rampton’s article makes reference to an email management technique named Yesterbox, which involves responding only to emails from the day before.

My email handling approach runs along similar lines: I have non-urgent emails directed to an email programme which I open just once per day (usually in the evening), and I reply to a lot of emails on Friday afternoon only.

Which email management techniques work best?

4. Cut down on decision fatigue.

In the course of a day, the quality of the decisions that we make becomes worse. It’s therefore advisable to generally reduce the number of our decisions from the outset, for example by creating a minimalist wardrobe (check out my 3 minimalist wardrobe principles here).

Note Barack Obama, who once famously said: “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

5. Prescribe yourself some downtime.

Both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates explain that plenty of blank spaces have been the secret to their success and time management. We all know downtime is good for us, but: how good are we at really scheduling it?

What’s more, we should enjoy work-free time more! I touched on this crucial topic a couple of times on this blog before, for example here, here and here.

Famous, successful people use time management techniques that even teach us how to make time. Some of them stand out, offering an improved approach to to-do lists, email management and downtime.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

How to make to-do lists pleasurable

How easy is it for you to include pleasurable activities in your day? I’ve noticed I tend to deprive myself of pleasurable activities as work and similar commitments typically fill every waking hour. There is generally not enough time in the day!

And I’ve heard others around me complain about how they, too, rarely get round to recreational or fun activities, which deep down they crave. What about activities that are, by definition, pleasurable? What about socialising or outdoor pursuits? What is a good use of time?

Tweak your to-do list a little, and you'll reap amazing benefits

If you follow this blog, you’ll perhaps remember my article about the minimal to-do list. It involves setting 3 main tasks per day, which are important, easy to remember, and above all achievable.

I love my minimal to-do list; however, I’ve noticed my 3 daily tasks usually are tedious, difficult or downright tiring. Don’t get me wrong: the purpose of a to-do list obviously is to get tedious tasks done. And work can be pleasurable, too. But at the end of the day, it still is what it is: work.

All work and no play, after all, is not good for us, so I’ve started tweaking my minimal to-do list a little:
I occasionally include a pleasurable activity in my to-do list. It’s a time management approach designed to bring about greater purpose. It works for me, so it might work for you, too.

This is less ridiculous than it initially sounds: on some days I explicitly include a pleasurable activity in my to-do list, such as meeting up with a friend at the café; going out on a nice, long run; or treating myself to a full-body massage.

While I would have done these things in the past, I now savour and appreciate such activities even more. It is, frankly, the best way to get my priorities right. By adapting your to-do list a little, you can reap amazing benefits!

Tweaking my minimal to-do list in this unusual way has made it easy for me to find the balance between the mountain of work commitments, the engagement in relationships, and the pursuit of pleasure. All three should have a role to play in our lives.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Avoiding writing mistakes by concentration span management

As I was rereading an email which I’d sent to a friend in Germany on her birthday recently, I noticed a stupid comma mistake in my writing. As a translator I’m extremely sensitive to even the smallest of writing errors, but in this situation I didn’t mind. But why?

If this had happened to me in my translation work, it would have caused a lot of distress. If I had delivered a translation to a client with a stupid mistake in it, it would have been upsetting – both for the client and for myself. Blunders can easily turn a translation into substandard work.

The mental resources available to us in a day are finite, so we should use them wisely

Mistakes in professional translations and professional writing can and do happen, which is why good translators put bespoke quality assurance measures in place to prevent them. Since the mental resources that are available to us in a day are finite, it makes sense to use them wisely and effectively, i.e. to “manage” them. This often means: first things first!

I could, of course, have written to my friend first thing in the morning, straight after the notification on my phone had popped up reminding me of her birthday. But I’d deliberately put it off till late in the afternoon, although I’d been well aware that my mental resources, after a day’s translation work, would be almost depleted by then.

Writing to my friend first thing would already have taken a chunk out of the mental resources so badly needed for the day‘s translation assignments. I knew that it wouldn’t really matter (much) to her that my writing was most likely going to be suboptimal. That she wouldn’t mind the odd punctuation mistake or typo. That my email would perhaps even be a bit incoherent. Writing to her on her birthday mattered more than the writing itself.

First things first! Since our concentration span in a day is limited, it makes sense to implement measures to plan our days ahead in a way to prevent careless writing mistakes.

Note: A German translation of this blog article can be found here.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

A better job title for the human translator

You may agree or disagree: the word “translator” has become a misnomer. It no longer is appropriate to convey what a human translator does.

This is not as far-fetched as you might think: machine translation providers have hogged the word “translator” to refer to computer programmes that output raw machine translation. Human translators therefore are in need of a job title that better describes what they do.

Human translators are in need of a job title that better describes what they do

The word “translator” on its own is misleading! I therefore feel that using a better, more specific job title for the human translator should be the next logical step on the way towards changing the public’s perception of the translating profession. Examples:

Language professional

Language consultant

Technical translator

Patent translator

Marketing translator


Premium translator

Foreign text producer

Translator and editor


It is confusing that nowadays both human translators and translating computers are referred to as translators. In light of the encroachment of translating computers, a better job title is therefore needed for
(human) translators.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Bringing bliss back to blogging

Let’s face it: blogs have fallen out of fashion. We seem to prefer posting on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook instead. So why bother with maintaining a translator’s blog – or indeed a blog on whatever topic?

As Nikki Graham noted following her translation and interpreting blog survey, many translators’ blogs have either disappeared or haven’t been updated for months, and in some cases, years. One reason for this is that writing blog articles is time-consuming, and translators typically are very busy people!

To blog or not to blog

As you can see, my blog is still alive and kicking; yet, with no room for comments, no RSS feed and only sporadic posting, it is unconventional. What’s more, my blog theme is unusual – perhaps even to the point of being off-putting.

After setting up this blog many moons ago, I soon became disillusioned with blogging for the translators’ blogosphere. I found (back in 2007) I was facing a select circle of “famous” bloggers, which I realised newcomers would find hard to break into (and even harder if they were non-native English writers like me).

Disillusioned with this situation, I changed direction without further ado: I overhauled my entire blogging approach, deleted old, purely translation-related posts, and basically stopped blogging with marketing or work goals in mind. To cut a long story short, I switched from blogging for business to blogging as a hobby.

Pick a blog theme that really fires up!

Does your blog theme fire you up?

I’d also happened to read something that had set me thinking: if as a blogger you want to be in it for the long haul, it is vital to pick a blog theme that really fires up. Sadly, blogging about translation alone did not fire me up, so I decided to weave minimalism into my blog theme.
Minimalism was an obvious choice, as in previous years some of the most charismatic people I’d met (in books and online) had been minimalists, and some of the most inspiring quotes I’d seen had been about minimalism. Minimalism did fire me up, and for the first time I felt I was suddenly all set for long-haul blogging!

Making the jump to unconventional blogging

Weaving minimalism into my blog theme was a move for the better which I’ve never regretted. I’d broken free from old thought loops about what type of content ideally should be on my translator’s blog. Blogging was something I could now do in my free time! Deep down, I realised I’d never really been keen to share industry news. The pressure was off.

The decision to wave goodbye to my old translation-only blog was liberating: I started seeing blogging as a way of practising writing, tucked away from the frenzy of mainstream blogging, in my own quiet little niche. Overnight, I stopped trying to seek others’ approval of what I’d come up with in my posts. And I’ve never looked back since.

A blog is still the place for self-expression!

Despite my initial disillusionment with writing for the translators’ blogosphere, I felt I still wanted to carry on with blogging. One of my teenage dreams, after all, had been to be able to write good English one day. This ambition seemed very far off when I was 15; thanks to practising writing by blogging, it no longer seems so far off today.

I’d also read some fascinating stuff on how to write for the web – and was itching to have a go at it myself! In the end there’s no denying that for writers a blog is still an excellent place for self-expression. A blog offers space to fully flesh out an idea, where you can go as deep as you want.

I believe it is beneficial for every one of us to identify a suitable medium to unlock our own channels of creativity, whether that’s music, drawing or writing. If there’s one thing that my first hesitant blogging attempts had taught me, it was this: I’d started loving that elusive, blissful feeling of being in a “flow” state when working on my posts. And I still love it today!

Translators’ blogs may have fallen out of fashion, but there are valid reasons even today to maintain a translator’s blog. For me blogging has become a way of practising writing in my free time. It no longer means business, but pleasure!

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Runners and translators: Pushing on uphill together

It’s easier when you’re not alone.

This thought occurred to me as I was making my way up the hill to Hinton Blewett on this year’s Chew Valley 10k in the company of other runners. We were running up the hill slowly, with about 5k still ahead of us, panting and puffing – but full of determination!

There is a sense of connectedness when you’re in it together. Running alone usually helps clear my head during work breaks, yet I also enjoy and see many benefits in running in a group. Knowing you are not alone running uphill does push you on, so you will keep going.

Running up a hill is tough: it’s exhausting, and it can be painful! It takes a lot of mental determination and strength. But doing it with others means you can relate to one another. There is something powerful about that.

It’s rewarding to be connected with like-minded people and feel part of something bigger

This sense of connectedness is typical not just of my runners’ world, but also of my translators’ community. Knowing, for example, I’m not alone in getting hot under the collar when confronted with ignorant comments about what machine translation (apparently) can do is such a relief.

Ignorant comments are typically made by people in the business world who don’t have much of a clue about how the mechanisms of language really work, its intricacies, its beauty. I therefore feel there cannot be enough blog posts, tweets or social media shares spreading the word about the absurdity of (most) machine translation.

Spreading the word about what good translation involves, what it is all about, can be tough and exhausting, even painful at times! But doing it with others creates a sense of community. It’ll push us translators on in our mission to explain to the public where the value of human translation lies.

There is something powerful about knowing you are not alone in an uphill battle. It’s rewarding to be connected with like-minded people and feel part of something bigger!

Sunday, 30 September 2018

International Translation Day 2018

International Translation Day is celebrated every year on 30 September on the feast of St Jerome. St. Jerome is famous for his Latin translation of the Bible from Hebrew (known as the Vulgate) and is considered to be the patron saint of translators. 

Expert linguists play a pivotal role in our modern world!

Over the past week, translators worldwide once again have seized this opportunity to spread the word about translation and draw the public’s attention to the pivotal role that expert linguists play in our modern world.

The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) has teamed up with the Association of Translation Companies (ATC) and launched a social media campaign to raise the profile of the translation industry. Translators getting involved in the campaign have used the hashtags #thisistranslation, #ITD2018 and #ITImorethanwords.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

When life’s comfortable – and you’re not seeing it!

For many of us, life a few years ago most likely wasn’t as comfortable as it is today. We habitually focus too much on where we still want to improve, but tend to overlook what we’ve already achieved, what we can truly be proud of, what should make us feel good about ourselves!

I’d never thought about this much until my recent visit to Erlangen, where I lived from 1999 until 2002. I was studying languages and translation at the Institut für Fremdsprachen und Auslandskunde (IFA), yet I never aspired to actually become a translator… As I was walking past all the places that I have such vivid memories of, I couldn’t help but admit to myself: I have moved on a lot in the last 15 years.

We habitually focus too much on where we still want to improve, but tend to overlook what we’ve already achieved

Life’s comfortable today: not only do I have a secure job in translation, I’ve also lived in the UK for many years, so my English-language skills (both written and oral) are much more refined. What’s more, I’ve hit upon new passions, such as writing for this blog! And passing the bridge where I’d meet my mate Carolin for runs in Erlangen’s Meilwald, I realised: I didn’t particularly enjoy running then, whereas I derive a lot of pleasure from it today.

We often do not see the things that have worked out well for us

All too often in our thoughts we dwell on what still doesn’t work for us in our lives, or what we’re still not good enough at. The income aims we’ve noted down in our business plans and this year again haven’t achieved. The client we’ve always wanted to work for, but still haven’t secured a relationship with. The long working hours in the evenings that we’d vowed would be a thing of the past by now.

If we leave all that aside for a minute, we can shine a spotlight on something else: past achievements to be proud of, personal crises we’ve mastered, or all those measures we have implemented successfully! Let’s recall notable stages in our professional development, the ways in which our work lives have changed for the better, or bespoke strategies we’ve devised to improve how we manage our day-to-day business.

A recent trip to Erlangen taught me that our minds are programmed to focus on what we’re still not good enough at, and to not see the things that have worked out well for us. Chances are for quite a few of us life today is more comfortable than it was 10, 15 or 20 years ago – we just need to sharpen our awareness of it!

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Digital decluttering: Combatting information overload

No doubt we’re all subject to information overload and overstimulation as we’re moving about the web nowadays. In the vastness of the online world, it’s easy to get lost very quickly.

Minimalist Francine Jay has just released a blog post entitled “Go placidly”, in which she notes: the world has become noisier lately – not in an auditory, but in an information-coming-from-all-directions way.

I suspect more and more of us are indeed slowly and surely starting to feel “digital fatigue” or “the urge to disconnect”. Francine suggests giving ourselves permission to occasionally tune out and do our own thing instead.

There are lots of reasons why I became hooked on minimalism a couple of years ago. Francine’s page-turner “Miss Minimalist: Inspiration to Downsize, Declutter, and Simplify” was one of them.

We’re all having to grapple with information overload and overstimulation. In her blog post “Go placidly”, Francine Jay encourages us to step back rather than keep up with the social media scene and try to be seen, heard, liked or followed constantly.

Combatting information overload: Tuning out occasionally and doing our own thing instead

Monday, 6 August 2018

Translators and small things: 5 peculiar quirks

Translators have peculiar quirks and habits, especially when it comes to small things in language! While some of these are essential to the job, to outsiders they’re likely to come across as oddities. The following list of translators’ peculiar quirks is by no means exhaustive:

1. Translators can become agitated about a misplaced or omitted apostrophe or (yikes!) a spelling mistake in a book.

2. Translators don’t normally sleep too well following the identification of an error in one of their recently submitted translations.

3. If it turns out a product name is not correctly hyphenated on a label, a translator may no longer want to buy that product on her next supermarket shop.

4. It is not at all unusual for a translator to be engaged in a phone conversation with a client in regard to “that comma on page 27”.

5. Translators show great zeal in discussing even the smallest of words, and often invest lots of time in the hunt for that one word that is spot on.

Translators are extremely sensitive to details in language, and their detail-orientedness may seem odd or exaggerated to outsiders. It’s very often small things in language that they notice, have to be mindful of, and even get worked up about!

Translators often get worked up about small things in language

Monday, 2 July 2018

The 5-step guide to switching into minimalist work mode

This is my easy-to-implement guide to switching into minimalist office work mode for increased productivity, efficiency and job satisfaction:

1) Remove physical clutter.

Physical clutter invariably leads to mental clutter. Studies demonstrate that physical clutter around you tends to pull at your attention and hence impacts your ability to concentrate in a negative way. Therefore, creating a distraction-free environment by removing all physical clutter from your office will greatly boost your concentration.

2) Create a 3-item to-do list every morning.

I’ve already blogged here on the benefits of a minimal to-do list. I recommend it wholeheartedly! Having a 3-item to-do list in place will create amazing momentum that’ll keep you going until you’ve finished the 3 tasks that you’ve made your primary focus of the day.

3) Keep to your own natural rhythm of the day.

Whether it’s the early morning hours or late in the evening, it is vital to understand when your most productive part of the day is. Then make the most of that time! For example, I function best in the mornings, so I set aside mornings for essential work tasks.

It is vital to understand when your most productive part of the day is

4) Gear up for concentration.

I find that in my work as a translator – especially ahead of preparing the very important final version of a translation – I can best tap into the power of concentration if I “gear up” for it. For me, this usually involves taking in some fresh air on the morning school run, sitting down at the kitchen table to enjoy a cup of espresso mindfully, or having a power nap during the day.

5) Block out all distractions.

I love shutting out the outside world completely to create a hushed, tranquil and productive work atmosphere. I then most relish being a “minimalist translator” in that there’s just me and my translation for a while – with Twitter notifications, personal e-mail and everything else far away.

Switching into minimalist work mode will remove many motivational barriers and help you become proactive and productive. Try it out!