Tuesday, 21 December 2021

Christmas 2021 donation to WWF

In the same minimalist vein as in previous years I have once again, instead of spending money on Christmas cards and gifts, made a Christmas donation to a charity this year.

In light of the increasingly palpable consequences of climate change, I’ve chosen WWF, an organisation that pushes for a reduction in carbon emissions and presses for measures to help everyone on Earth live sustainably.

WWF has been engaging with leading businesses and government leaders for many decades to prepare for the massive changes lying ahead and to reduce the emissions that are driving us towards a climate catastrophe.


We are the last generation that can avert the impending catastrophic effects of climate change


 

Recent events have frighteningly brought home to us that climate change is – inevitably and irreversibly – upon us now! Its effects, which are hitting us earlier than anticipated, are serious and becoming more calamitous.

It’s worth bearing in mind that we are the last generation that can avert the impending catastrophic effects of climate change. Tackling climate change will require action by everyone of us, and WWF emphasises that we have the knowledge and the tools to reduce our impact on the climate.

 

If this charitable cause appeals to you, too, you can donate to WWF here.

 

 

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers of my blog a wonderful, hopefully Covid-free Christmas and a happy, healthy new year.

 

German version of this blog article:

Weihnachten 2021: Spende an den WWF

Thursday, 9 December 2021

My Social Media Officer role for the ITI Western Regional Group (WRG) and general thoughts on social media


What’s in social media, especially for those of us who run small businesses? And for those of us who are in charge of the social media accounts for our professional or other associations?


Learning effective, targeted social media use as WRG Social Media Officer

I recently stepped down from my volunteer role as Joint Social Media Officer for my local translators’ and interpreters’ association, the ITI Western Regional Group (WRG), after one year. I’d been mainly responsible for the WRG's Twitter account and was sharing the role with Mariana Roccia, who taught me a lot and was an absolute delight to work with!

My Joint Social Media Officer role involved posting about WRG-related events, news and updates on the WRG social media platforms, and also included several other general committee responsibilities. It provided an excellent opportunity to learn what effective, targeted social media use is all about. I’d also been keen to give back to the WRG, which I feel proud to be a member of.



My Social Media Officer role for the ITI WRG provided an excellent opportunity
to learn what effective, targeted social media use is all about



I couldn’t help feeling at times, though, that the WRG with its small and eclectic membership would be able to function perfectly well without a social media presence, but instead just with its internal forum, especially for announcements directed at members. As for posts directed at potential clients, my hunch is that translation buyers are generally far too busy to follow social media updates. But that’s just my twopence worth.


Social media for knowledge workers and small business owners

My reasons for stepping down were both family- and work-related, but I also felt I wasn’t the right person for a social media role in the end. Social media, after all, has never been (and probably never will be) my cup of tea. While I’ve heard good things about LinkedIn and would like to use it more once time allows, I am otherwise not keen on social media.

When it comes to social media, I’m biased: I’ve read the bestselling (and thought-provoking) books “Digital Minimalism” and “Deep Work” by Georgetown University computer science professor Cal Newport. And I strongly agree with the well-researched and highly convincing propositions and views about social media use for knowledge workers.

 

What’s in social media, especially for those of us who run small businesses?


Whether you love or hate social media or simply are curious about it, I highly recommend the books “Digital Minimalism” and “Deep Work” by Cal Newport: they provide a gripping insight into the mechanics and underlying psychology of social media.

 

Why social media abstinence is a good idea

Social media is said to be a highly effective and low-cost means to increase awareness of your brand, but, if done properly, social media marketing is also very time-consuming. Bear in mind that translation buyers and your potential clients are probably very busy and therefore unlikely to hang out on social media. Add to this the proven damaging effects that social media has on humans in general, and social media will quickly lose its appeal.

If you run a small translation business, you risk wasting precious time on social media, which could be spent more fruitfully otherwise. There are, inarguably, lots of other effective and less time-consuming ways in which freelancer translators and other small business owners can market themselves and their services (more on this perhaps in a future blog post). 

 

If you run a small translation business, you risk wasting precious time on social media,
which could be spent more fruitfully otherwise

 

These are harsh and perhaps uncomfortable views on social media marketing, and I know most of you will strongly disagree. I rarely blog about social media, and felt this blog post has finally provided me with an opportunity to air a few personal thoughts about social media use in general.



Having said all that, I thoroughly enjoyed being a member of the team on the ITI Western Regional Group’s committee in the past year and (while I won’t miss the social media itself) am definitely going to miss the social interaction and fruitful collaboration with my WRG committee co-members. Thanks, guys!




Sunday, 31 October 2021

Focused, productive, happy: the power of routines

If you’re time-poor, this post is for you. The ultimate solution to making more time may be to simply rethink and tweak your existing routines, or to create new routines. Many things in life are totally beyond our control; a routine, by contrast, is something that we can control.


Exploiting my most valuable resource: time

Time is the most valuable resource at my disposal, so I endeavour to take optimal advantage of it. Routines help me stay focused and productive throughout my workday. They help minimise any inner resistance which I tend to encounter in getting things done. Needless to say, this naturally increases my level of feel-good hormones, too!

 

Personal routines prime us for success and make it easier for us
to hit our professional and personal goals

(Image by EskYew on Pixabay)

A routine can be defined as a sequence of actions which you perform repeatedly. It may involve just tiny steps at a time; these, however, will have an exponential effect over time! Personal routines prime us for success and make it easier for us to hit our professional and personal goals.

 

From a solid morning routine to regular runs: routines that work well for me


The routines appropriate for each one of us will be wildly different. For me the following routines work really well at the moment:

- Getting up early on weekdays and following a solid morning routine (which I blogged about here) helps me enter my “work state of mind” ahead of starting my workday.

- Going for a short walk or on a run at 10am when I’ve already got a fair amount of work done feels satisfying.

- Checking non-work-related email just once per day in the evening means I can prioritise work emails during the day.

- Adhering to a minimal to-do list every day (which I blogged about here) provides me with a sense of accomplishment at the end of each and every day.

- Reading one short chapter in a computer programming book every day and doing my best to get my head around its content helps me build up a specialism required in my translation job.

- Implementing a one-a-day declutter approach
(which I blogged about here) has worked its magic over time in that I’ve been able to rid myself gradually of many unnecessary items.

 

 

For many of us, time is the most valuable resource at our disposal,
so it seems wise to resort to techniques enabling us take optimal advantage of it

 

I admit with some of these routines I found it difficult initially to muster the discipline and willpower to follow through on them. However, they’ve since become ingrained in me as habits: I no longer think twice about whether I feel up to them or not.

 

Countering decision fatigue with the help of routines

The beauty of routines is that they not only are great for countering decision fatigue in that we simply automate certain decisions, but also add rhythm to our days. Our days will flow much more smoothly as a result! In the end, routines are neither boring nor stifling: they’re necessary.

 

For many of us, time is the most valuable resource at our disposal, so it seems wise to resort to techniques enabling us take optimal advantage of it. In this post I explain how routines can help us hit our work and personal goals.

 

Related popular blog posts: 

8 March 2020: My (unusual) approach to minimising social media time

19 July 2019: The 80/20 rule: Achieving more with less

4 April 2019: Reducing office time by prioritising and batching

19 March 2019: 5 simple techniques for making time

2 July 2018: The 5-step guide to switching into minimalist work mode

5 September 2017: Super-easy decluttering for busy people
 
22 June 2016: The minimal to-do list 

 

Adhering to a minimal to-do list provides me with
a sense of accomplishment at the end of each and every day


 

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Working more efficiently with AutoHotkey (part 2)

AutoHotkey is a must-have tool that anyone (with a Windows computer) can use to improve their Windows experience. If you’re tired of constantly navigating menus or using multiple strokes to perform repetitive tasks and would like to simplify your work life, then AutoHotkey and the scripts below will be for you!

AutoHotkey has much more power than most people will ever use, but also offers very simple scripts. Its simplest scripts – typically just one line of code – could even turn out to be those that you'll find most useful in your day-to-day computing! 

 

A few examples: whenever I type tn, the AutoHotkey script will automatically enter the word translation. Or when I enter @@k, the script will automatically enter my email address. I remember that, before I started using AutoHotkey, it would always be a pain to constantly have to type the whole email address! Check out my earlier blog post about AutoHotkey to find out more about this.

 


Teaming up with an AutoHotkey accountability partner 

A couple of months ago I teamed up with Isabel Hurtado de Mendoza, an English-to-Spanish translator. We both had only scratched the surface of what is possible with AutoHotkey then and were keen to find out more about it. So we became accountability partners: we now report back (more or less) regularly to each other on our latest AutoHotkey discoveries and learning progress. 

Isabel and I identified AutoHotkey scripts that are particularly useful to translators as well as other computer users. We either adopted existing AutoHotkey scripts (many of which are readily available on the web) or modified and adapted them to our own purposes. You’re very welcome to adopt the scripts below as well!


Simpler AutoHotkey script editing with SciTE4AutoHotkey

I would previously edit my AutoHotkey scripts in Notepad, but recently switched to SciTE4AutoHotkey upon Isabel’s recommendation. SciTE4AutoHotkey is an AutoHotkey script editor, which provides helpful features such as syntax highlighting (to highlight any errors in AutoHotkey syntax), AutoComplete, interactive debugging and others. This might all sound very complicated, but it really isn’t!

 


Advanced AutoHotkey scripts for translators
 

The following AutoHotkey scripts are slightly more advanced AutoHotkey scripts. You’ll find a number of useful, simpler scripts in my earlier blog post about AutoHotkey.
 

Note that any text following a semicolon (;) below serves as a comment, reminding you of what the script means or what you need to do to trigger it. It won’t be executed by the AutoHotkey programme.


Launching programmes by pressing a combination of keys 

It is possible to launch any programme instantly by using a hotkey. For instance, you could set up AutoHotkey to launch Outlook and define, for example, WIN + o for this. In other words, when you press WIN + o, this will launch Outlook.


Here are some example scripts which could be used:
 

;>>>>>>>>>>>>>
; Programme ausf├╝hren/Run programmes
;>>>>>>>>>>>>>

; press WIN + o
#o::
Run Outlook.exe
return

; press WIN + f
#f::
Run firefox.exe
return

; press WIN + m
#m::
Run MicrosoftEdge.exe
return

; press WIN + c
#c::
Run calc.exe
return

Note: in AutoHotkey # designates the Windows key on your keyboard.


Creating a new file in Word or Excel

In the past, I always had to perform several clicks to create a new Word or Excel file. Now, I can create one instantly by simply pressing CTRL (or, to be more precise, Strg on my QWERTZ keyboard) + n to create a Word file and CTRL + SHIFT + % to create an Excel file, respectively.


Here are the scripts:

;>>>>>>>>>>>>>
; Neue Word-Datei/New Word file
;>>>>>>>>>>>>>

; press CTRL + n
^n::
Word := ComObjCreate("Word.Application")    
Word.Visible := True                        
Word.Documents.Add                          
Return

;>>>>>>>>>>>>>
; Neue Excel-Datei/New Excel file
;>>>>>>>>>>>>>

; press CTRL + SHIFT + %
^%::
Xl := ComObjCreate("Excel.Application")     
Xl.Visible := True                             
Xl.Workbooks.Add                             
Return   

Note: in AutoHotkey ^ designates the CTRL key on your keyboard.




Entering the £ symbol

I do a lot of business with UK companies, so I use the £ currency symbol all the time; however, since I use a QWERTZ keyboard, I don’t have a £ key on it. Thanks to AutoHotkey, though, I can enter it quickly by pressing CTRL + WIN + p.


Here is the script for it:

; create the £ sign by pressing CTRL + WIN + p
^#P::SendInput {U+00A3}  

Note: in AutoHotkey # designates the Windows key on your keyboard.

 



Creating message templates

AutoHotkey can be utilized to create message templates for use not just in an email client, but anywhere in your Windows environment, for example when writing messages in a web-based interface.


Here’s an example script for it:

;>>>>>>>>>>>>>
; E-Mail-Vorlagen/Email templates
;>>>>>>>>>>>>>

; type jobno
::jobno::Dear XX,{ENTER}{ENTER}Thank you for your new enquiry.{ENTER}{ENTER}I am sorry I'm unable to take on the project as I’m currently fully booked.{ENTER}{ENTER}Kind regards,{ENTER}{ENTER}Elisabeth




Taking a screenshot

This is a script for effortlessly taking a screenshot using Paint, combining several steps. To take a screenshot, I simply have to press CTRL+ALT+1, and all that’s left for me to do is to save the Paint file (with the screenshot in it) on my hard drive (or another storage medium).


Here is the script for it:

;>>>>>>>>>>>>>
; Screenshot erzeugen und in Paint kopieren/Take screenshot and copy it to Paint
;>>>>>>>>>>>>>

; CTRL+ALT+1
^!1::                       
sleep, 100
send {PrintScreen}
sleep, 500
Run, C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\Paint
Sleep, 1000
Send, #{Up}
Sleep, 500
Mouseclick, left, 250, 250, 5
Sleep, 200
send ^v
sleep, 500

Note: Isabel and I figured out that sometimes it’s necessary to write the whole file path in the script (such as C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\Paint in the script above), rather than just write “Run Paint”!


Converting a short dash to an m dash


Entering an m dash should be easy, but for some reason it often isn’t! Using an AutoHotkey script can help make sure the m dash always is there when you need it.


I now use this script:

; press Alt Gr + -
<^>!-:: Send, –                

Note that similar scripts could be used for any symbols that you use regularly, for example a script that changes square brackets to curly brackets.

 

The simplest AutoHotkey scripts – typically just one line of code – could turn out
to be those that you'll find most useful in your day-to-day computing
(image by Gerd Altmann on Pixabay)

 




Copying and pasting text into an open Word file


Collecting data while I’m researching terminology during a translation project has become way more comfortable thanks to the following script in that I no longer have to jump around between windows!

These days I only need to have a Word file open on my screen, and any text which I highlight (e.g. on a webpage or in an electronic dictionary) will then automatically be copied to this file by the script. I’ve named this file notes.docx, which is why the lines IfWinExist, notes and WinWaitActive, notes are used in this script, as shown below.



To trigger the script, I only need to press CTRL+ALT+n.



;>>>>>>>>>>>>>
; Text in Word-Datei notes.docx kopieren/Copy text to Word file notes.docx
;>>>>>>>>>>>>>

; CTRL+ALT+n   
^!n::                       
Send, ^c
IfWinExist, notes
{    
    WinActivate
}
else
{
    Run winword
}
WinWaitActive, notes
Send, ^v`n`n
return





This blog post lists a number of slightly more advanced AutoHotkey scripts that are particularly useful to translators as well as other computer users. They are designed to save time and take the dullness out of performing repetitive computing tasks, for example when taking screenshots, writing messages or entering special symbols.  I hope you like them and they will make your life a bit easier!


Check out my other blog posts about AutoHotkey:
 
Working more efficiently with AutoHotkey (part 1)
Working more efficiently with AutoHotkey (part 3)