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ADD, short attention span, or just plain curiosity? (how do you manage??)
Thread poster: Andrea Riffo

Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:29
English to Spanish
Nov 15, 2006

Hello all!

I am currently working on a rather large project in a subject that -fortunately- I love. The problem is, that whenever I need to search for something on Internet, it goes like this:

"Yep, that's what I was looking for... but wait! that news is rather interesting. Let's click on it ... [click] ... uhmmm.... aha... I didn't know that... mmm that link says 'more info'... [click] ... ohhh, nice pictures, finally I get to see what X means... I wonder what happens if I click on that definition ... [click] ... oh, so Y is also an accepted alternative to X [make a note in my notebook] ... let's see what info I can find if I do a search on Y ... [click] ...".

You get the picture. 45 minutes and a dozen websites later I go "oh s***!" and resume my translation.

This only happens when I'm working on a topic I'm really interested in but, although I don't consider it to be a waste of time, it certainly complicates things a bit. Believe me, It's a compulsion. I seem to have the attention span of a 3-year-old.

So, the question is, does it happen to anyone else? If so, what do you do about it, considering you are your own boss and therefore rely on only yourselves to keep this sort of thing in check?


[Edited at 2006-11-15 16:43]

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:29
English to French
+ ...
It happens to me an awful lot! Nov 15, 2006

It's a lot of fun - but very counterproductive also! :'(

I have learned to manage this at first by making up subcategories in my browser favorites. When I find such interesting sites where I have info that will help me better understand a subject, and I know I don't have time at the moment to read through it, I stick it in my bookmarks. Unfortunately, my favorites folder is now so messy, it takes a long time to just load it, not to mention I have to clean it periodically - which also takes time.

I have found a better solution: Cogitum Co-citer. It's freeware and here's what it does. When you find a piece of information on the net that interests you but don't have time to read it, you highlight the bit that is interesting and right-click it. This brings up a dialog wherein you get the citation and it automatically grabs the address where it appears. You can give it a title and you can integrate it in a file structure - but that's optional. Otherwise, you just need to confirm. Whenever you have time to actually take a closer look at the sites you archived this way, you can just open Co-citer and read whatever you feel like reading - the link to the site where you took the citation from is available.

What's nice is that you can export your Co-citer files, file structures or part of them as HTML. This is very nice because it can actually help a lot when working on a team and you want to give them terminology information. I have used this on a project once - I had to use the terminology of the Canadian government and some of the people on my team could not find the terms on the web. When I found them, I used Co-citer to make up little glossaries. They included source term with context, target term with context and links to the respective sites where they were found. I exported as HTML and the other translators got a great glossary where they even saw the terms in context and had a reference URL for them to make sure they were reliable. It helped a lot!

You can find it here:

They also have a few other tools you may be interested in.

Happy browsing!

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Cetacea  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:29
English to German
+ ...
I'd call it essential Nov 15, 2006

What do you mean, short attention span? You're keeping at it for 45 minutes, enlarging your knowledge base on one and the same subject in a dedicated fashion for almost an hour in a row, that's rather a long attention span!

Seriously, I often find that by doing that (i.e. jumping from A to B to C), I find information and/or terminology that I would have had to check later on in the translation anyway. At the very least, it gives me background information that will come in handy in the future. And it changes the perspective for a while, which is also good for translating, particularly with technical or scientific texts.

Of course, it helps to glance at the monitor clock every once in a while to keep things in proportion...

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Carole Paquis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:29
Member (2007)
English to French
self-discipline Nov 15, 2006

I can do the same with dictionaries (Encarta is great for that !)...but I try to think 'deadline', 'money', 'income' and greed takes over.

I sometimes keep some links in my favourites. I look at them when there is a gap in my workload and it comes under 'professional development'....after that, it's in my own time!

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Natasha Dupuy  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:29
French to English
Only for IE Nov 15, 2006

Viktoria, that program sounds great but it seems it is only compatible with IE. Perhaps someone is able to recommend a similar program that is compatible with Firefox?

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Heather Chinchilla
United States
Local time: 06:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Working in blocks Nov 15, 2006

I do have ADD and a short attention span. I've found I need to break large projects into smaller tasks and take frequent "breaks" in order to stay focused and work productively and effectively.

This is what I do: I divide a large project into smaller pieces. This helps me to stay on track and see my progress. Except in extreme cases, I only work on 1 task for 20 or 30 minutes. Sometimes I'll work on 1 task for a while, then switch to another for a change of pace.

In between tasks, I try to do some type of physical or mental activity, which helps me to stay alert and focused. Between small tasks I'll do something like get a glass of water, make a quick phone call, or do a chore around the house. When I finish a section or a task (i.e. finding parallel documents, looking up terms, finishing a rough draft, etc.), I do something I enjoy such as checking my email, reading something interesting online, etc. Then I go on to the next part.

If I'm having particular trouble concentrating, am on a tight deadline, working a long day, or a late night, I play solitaire on the computer or monopoly on my phone. I do a task such as translating a page or section, doing some research, etc., then play a hand of solitaire or take a couple of turns in monopoly, then go back to work. I save the game and stretch it out between tasks or sections. If I've finsihed a large section or have worked for a long time, I'll play a whole game, go for a walk, or get a bite to eat.

If I feel like I'm making no progress and am just "spinning my wheels", I'll stop for the day or for a long period of time. I'll often go to bed early, take a nap, or if it's meal time, I'll go out to a nice restaurant. If I needed to eat or sleep when I really needed to, I'll often be able to concentrate and work better than ever.

I'm not sure if any of this helps you, but hopefully it will help someone!

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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:29
English to Spanish
Thanks Nov 22, 2006

Viktoria, that program is awesome! I has also been a big hit among my friends, both translators and non-translators.

Cetacea, you're right, it is essential and it's something I always do. The problem is, when I get carried away it can become counterproductive as Viktoria said. Also, it ends up being like half of my conversations: I begin talking about A and 10 minutes later I'm talking about Q... and cannot remember what brought me to A in the first place! That's what I meant by (mild) ADD

Carole, I also keep links and print some stuff for future reference, and read them whenever I have some free time. It's fun and helps me keep updated on my working subjetcs

Heather, I basically do the same as you so (breaking projects into smaller chunks), only for longer periods. I have (very mild) diagnosed ADD, which means I have an extremely hard time concentrating in the first place. Fortunately, though, once I get there I have the ability (usualy with headphones playing classical music at top volume, lyrics make me sing and lose concentration) to block out everything else. The downside is, there's a big chance I'll lose my hearing years before most people



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