Time Management For Translators – Time Log Exercise

Have you ever thought that there weren’t enough hours in the day? Do you find it difficult to keep on top of your to-do list? You’re not alone. Despite all the time-saving technology now at our disposal, time management remains an issue for most of us. It is one of the main challenges freelance translators and interpreters have to face everyday.

On September 16th 2016, I will host an interactive time management workshop at the Institute of Translation and Interpreting in Milton Keynes, UK. I have asked all participants to prepare for it by keeping a time log, or activity log, for a few days before the workshop. To help you gain insights about your own time management, I am sharing this useful exercise with you in this post.

A time log is a written record of how you spend your time during the day, and in particular during your working hours. It will help you to understand exactly how you use your time, and to identify activities that are unproductive or of low value. It will also give you a clearer idea of the times when you are most productive during the day.


Keeping a time log

Keeping a time log for a few days (ideally for a whole week) can be quite eye-opening! To help you with this exercise, I have provided a template on page 2 of this free downloadable PDF. Please print this template as many times as you need, and add a new entry each time you start a new activity (e.g. emailing, translating, invoicing, making coffee, Internet, phone calls, etc.). Please include all activities, even if they are not work-related.

Note down a brief description of the activity, the time of the change, and how you feel (alert, tired, energetic, etc.). Then, at the end of the day, or at a convenient time, note the duration of each activity, as well as its level of importance (high, medium, low) based on how far it contributed to achieving your professional goals.


Analysing your time log

Once you have completed your time log, review it against your professional goals.

What aspects of your time management are working well for you?

How is this supporting your goals?

When are you most productive during the day?

When do you feel most alert/energetic?

What aspects of your time management are not working for you?

Which activities were of low importance?

Which activities didn’t help you to meet your goals?

When are you least productive/alert/energetic during the day?

What insights have you gained about your own time management?

Which activities could be eliminated?

Which activities/tasks could be delegated?

Which activities could you do at a more suitable time? (Think about scheduling challenging/important tasks for the time of the day when you feel your best, and lower energy tasks, such as replying to emails or returning calls, for the time of the day when you feel less energetic.)

Which activities could/should take less time?

What could you do less often? What could you do more often?

What will you commit to doing differently as a result of this exercise?


What next?

If you would like to learn more time management techniques, come and join us in Milton Keynes on September 16th, or contact me here to discuss the possibility of organising another workshop near where you live. I promise it will be time well spent!

You can also like my Facebook page or subscribe to my blog by clicking on the Follow button on the right at the top of this page.


You may also like:

The Translator’s Business Priorities Wheel

The Translator’s Stretch Zone

The Secret To Time Management

Coaching Tips For Translators (video)

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