organizational tools and the laundry break

I recently attended a Zoom networking event between other language professionals. The gist of the session was tips, tricks, and tools for getting organized and staying focused. As the conversation unfolded, it dawned on me that my tips and tricks are fairly rudimentary and old-fashioned. I don’t use Pomodoro or special apps. I don’t turn off access to social media. I don’t really have any hacks to share. And while I was really interested to learn about all the gizmos and gadgets people are using these days to boost productivity, I felt a bit sheepish when the moderator called on me to share from my own experiences.

Mostly, I use a notepad and a day planner to jot down my to-do lists, which I organize into levels of urgency over time. When I finish my goals for the day, I cross them off. If anything is remaining at the end of a day, it gets rolled over to the next day’s list.

In terms of productivity, I would say that having a toddler has made me fairly immune to distractions–at least compared to the pre-parent version of myself. I simply don’t have minutes to spare, and that knowledge has drastically reduced the allure of social media and online shopping. I’ll admit, however, that I can fall into mean research rabbit holes, but even those seem much shallower than before.

Of course, there’s the question of how to manage wildly different projects at the same time. Within the space of a workday, the translator’s mind can be taken on divergent journeys: romance fiction, tourist hotspots, marketing for children’s clothing, EU documentation, and more. Here, I found a good deal of convergence with the other Zoomers: to prevent whiplash, best to segment the day, with bouts of fresh air or household chores between each project. One woman spoke of doing the laundry as a well-deserved break from a tedious proofreading project. I could relate!

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