Translating is a time-consuming task. Often translators have to meet strict deadlines and work long hours in order to complete everything. When faced with time restraints, it is important that you use your time effectively. Below is a list of handy hints to help you save time.

1.    Invest in a good computer

Does your old computer take five minutes to open a file, ten minutes to load a program and an entire hour to connect to the internet? Upgrading or replacing your computer could save you some precious time. Before buying your computer, make sure you browse the market for something that fits your requirements. Your priority may be a good monitor, a large memory to store your translations and software or a fast processor. Processors may be referred to as CPU (Central Processing Unit) or APU (Accelerated Processing unit). Intel is known for producing reliable and high-performing processors. However AMD are rated more highly in terms of value for money. As for which PC to buy, HP and Dell computers are usually well-suited to business work. You also need to check that the computer has enough RAM. For example, Windows 7 or Vista will run more slowly with less than 2GB RAM. Don’t feel you have to get the latest version of everything. Windows 7 still works well and Windows 8 may take you a while to get used to if you are familiar with the previous versions. Remember to check to make sure the computer is compatible with your translation software.

2.    Clean up your computer

You can also improve your speed by cleaning up your computer. Special software such as CCleaner is available for this purpose. Ccleaner cleans up features such as temporary files, history and cookies. It also contains a registry cleaner to clean and detect problems with the windows registry. If a virus is slowing your PC down then anti-virus software can detect this and help you solve the problem. Free anti-virus software such as AVG and Windows Defender can be downloaded to prevent viruses and Trojans from attacking your PC. Remember to delete any unwanted files or programs to maximise your free space as well as removing them from your recycle bin. For Windows computers, defragmenting your hard disk will also increase performance.

3.    Make sure you have everything close at hand

Reference books, pen and paper, glossaries. Don’t get caught out and have to spend an hour wading through piles of books. Select any materials you think you may need before you start the job. Keep your desk organised to ensure you don’t lose anything important.

4.    Save and sort

As well as organising your desk, you need to make sure your computer is organised so you can quickly retrieve any files you might need. Clearly label files and assign them to folders so you know where to find them. Organise your browser by saving any useful web pages in your bookmarks, and add your favourite sites to the bookmark bar for quick access. Make sure you save your documents regularly to avoid losing work. Disappearing files can be extremely stressful when working under pressure. If one of your files is deleted unintentionally, try using data recovery programs such as Active@ File Recovery (only the demo version is available for free), Freeundelete or Recuva (both have a basic version available for free on the internet). Hard disks often keep track of erased files so they are not lost forever.

5.    Plan your time carefully

Taking a moment to plan your time is often useful. If you have a clear time management strategy, you will be able to meet deadlines more easily. Moreover, you can prioritise more challenging parts of the translation and set aside time for proofreading.

6.    Use CAT tools

When dealing with large texts that contain repetitive sections, or are similar to any previously translated texts it is worth using computer-assisted translation. Programs such as Trados archive previous translations and allow you to select them, cutting down translation time. You can also integrate glossaries and translation memories into the CAT tools to help research more effectively. Here you can find a list of major Computer-assisted translation software.

7.    Read and research

Many people believe it is faster to start translating straight away. However, if you have not read at least a couple of pages in advance in order to understand the context and researched any initial queries you might have, the task could be more time-consuming in the long run. Translators are likely to make more mistakes if they have not researched the subject matter first. Skimming and scanning are useful speed-reading techniques for translators. Skimming is quickly reading a text to gain an understanding of the main points and content. Scanning on the other hand is quickly searching the text until you find the point that you need to refer to. Use these techniques to ensure you know what the text is about before tackling the translation.

8.    Learn to run searches

A simple search tool will allow you to make corrections quickly without having to re-read your whole text. For example, if you change your mind about a term simply type it into the search bar and use the ‘find and replace’ tool. You can also use the search tool if you come across a word in the source text and want to see if it occurs again in order to better understand the context.

9.    Use a spell check

As mentioned in the previous article, spell checkers are a translator’s best friend. They can quickly find errors that may have taken you hours to spot. You can also change and edit any mistakes on the spell checker without having to scan through the whole text.

10.    Shortcuts for speed

Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to quickly navigate around your PC. They differ depending on your software and computer so make sure you learn the right ones. For example, reopening a previous tab in your browser is Ctrl + Shift + T on a PC but apple key + Z on a mac. Although shortcuts take just a few seconds less than clicking with a mouse, every little helps! Find out more about keyboard shortcuts in our next article.

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