Any tips or techniques on how to be efficient at work?
Thread poster: Eva T
Eva T
English to Albanian
+ ...
Nov 7, 2003

Hello,
Lately I have had a difficult time to concentrate and be focused at work, and I have not been efficient. I find myself doing everything else on the computer, but not my work. I do not know what is happening to me! I also tend to take really long naps, especially after the time changed (1 hr earlier). Any tips or techniques on how to stay focused and how to stay awake? I have tried coffee, but it just does not work for me. Do not know what to do. Often I turn to food, but this has other consequences and I do not like to be hooked way to much on snacks.
Please help. Any ideas, tips, techniques will be very appreciated.
Eva

[Edited at 2003-11-07 06:28]


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Ioana Bostan  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:03
English to Romanian
+ ...
Is there a technique??? Nov 7, 2003

Hi, Eva.
This happens to all of us ocne in a while, you're not the only one. But, you have to take care of yourself and search the real problem you've got. It may have a medical explanation, don't skip this detail. You never know. Lack of concentration? Long naps? Well... Coffee helps sometimes, but not always.
So, my first advice is to check if all is ok with your health. If this is not the reason...you just have to get to work!
When you have a project/work to accomplish and a really pressing deadline...I tell you...the focus comes back to you!
Do you have a work to do right now and you reallt cannot do it? Or is it a general state?
I wish you all the best and good health!
Ioana


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Martine Etienne  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 21:03
Member (2003)
English to French
+ ...
Take a rest..... outside Nov 7, 2003

I have experienced this too. The fact of working alone at home lets you free to stop working when you want, for taking a rest, reading an interesting book, and then you have to rush to meet the deadline.
There is a kind of illness appearing when people do not take enough oxygen. You do not breathe fully enough and then your body (blood) does not have sufficient oxygen to be at the top. When winter come we have a tendancy to stay longer at home, when you are sitting at your PC, you do not take deep breath, and so you becomes to be continuously tired, have dizziness, cannot concentrate.
Just go outside, for half an hour two times a day and breathe. In the beginning, you will feel tired but itwill improve (Of course, you must first be sure you do not have a medical problem justifying your problem)

I wish you a breathing day.
Martine


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:03
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Open up a window or go outside Nov 7, 2003

Hi Eva,

First, rule out any medical problem.
Then, open up a window or part of a window in the room where you are. Fresh air does wonders for the body and mind. Even if you live in a cold climate, have a sliver of window open. If you keep breathing in the air in a closed room, you are in fact inhaling your own exhaled air - not too healthy.

When the need for a break is there, go outside even for a little while. Walk a block, play with your dog or cat, etc. You need to get up from behind the PC and make your blood circulate. Otherwise, you may get 'sitting sores'

Have some soft music play in the back while you work. I think that it aids concentration. I work by music by Plácido Domingo (his classical as well as Latin music), Helmut Lotti, Charlotte Church, Gloria Estefan, tango music, etc.

Good luck!
Be healthy!
Lucinda.


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
Dutch to English
+ ...
Translator's block Nov 7, 2003

Eva T wrote:

Hello,
Lately I have had a difficult time to concentrate and be focused at work, and I have not been efficient. I find myself doing everything else on the computer, but not my work. I do not know what is happening to me! I also tend to take really long naps, especially after the time changed (1 hr earlier). Any tips or techniques on how to stay focused and how to stay awake? I have tried coffee, but it just does not work for me. Do not know what to do. Often I turn to food, but this has other consequences and I do not like to be hooked way to much on snacks.
Please help. Any ideas, tips, techniques will be very appreciated.
Eva

[Edited at 2003-11-07 06:28]


Hi Eva,

It may be medical and then you should try and establish what it is.

However, I suffer from 'translator's block' sometimes (very similar to writer's block whereby you do really want to work but you have reached saturation point). I just accept it and take a holiday (2 days, a week, 2 weeks, etc.). This usually does the trick and I come back completely refreshed and ready for the next deadline.

Whatever you do, do not panic. If it is not medical, it will eventually pass but you must be kind to yourself. Pamper yourself (whatever that means to you).


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Gareth McMillan  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:03
German to English
+ ...
Burnout or just boredom? Nov 7, 2003

Living at home and working at home can be the pits- some people (myself included) become irritated by lack of change of environment.
I don't believe you are ill, but your present situation could make you ill.
I notice that you do onsite interpreting- do you still have a concentration problem with that? If not, then maybe you should do more of it. If you feel happier in the company of other people perhaps you should find more "in house" work.
I am a freelance engineer first and translator second. If I had to do translation ALL the time I would go nuts (and for sure lose my powers of concentration).
It may be that you need to be at least partly involved work-wise in business/law or whatever your specialist areas are, rather than just be on the translating end of things once the original work has been done??
Concentration is never a problem when we are doing something we really like.
From MAPP website, "find a job you love and you will never have to work another day in your life". Good, eh?


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Maria Belarra  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:03
French to Spanish
+ ...
Light Nov 7, 2003

Hi Eva!

I think we all suffer from this from time to time.. My advice is, once you've ruled out any medical problem, do not obsess Maybe you're just tired and you have to accept your limits.
Stop every couple of hours or so, go out if you can, eat healthy, do not work at least 1 day per week.. And a trick that works for me: if you have to work when it's dark outside, put some candles around you. Yellow light prevents me from feeling sleepy and gives me a little bit of extra energy.
And of course when you're exhausted, stop.
Take care!
All the best,
Maria


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:03
German to English
+ ...
Practical tips Nov 7, 2003

As others have said, everyone has this problem sometimes. Here are some practical tips that help me:

- exercise. I find if I don't do this first thing in the morning, it doesn't get done. 20 minutes in the AM is a wonderful way to initialize your brain for the work day. You don't need to go to the gym or anything fancy: maybe you already have an exercise bike at home, or could invest in some exercise videos/DVDs. Or even just go for a walk for 20 minutes. If you vary it so you don't get bored, you should be able to make it a habit.

- structured work day. I don't work at home for the very reasons you mentioned: getting distracted, snacking, etc. Certainly an advantage of being a freelancer is that you have flexibility in your schedule, but I find it a good idea to work approximately 9-6. Well OK, maybe 10-6

If you work at home, try to isolate yourself from all those distractions. Let kids/partners know that you need to focus on work. Getting up, showered, and dressed for the day also helps (although working in pajamas has its advantages).

- light, protein-rich lunch and healthy snacking. If I have a big carb-rich lunch I'm always sleepy and unmotivated. Stock up on healthy snacks like fruit, carrot sticks, yogurt. Drink lots of water.

- set achievable goals. I like translating because I have a sense of completion. If you're working on a big project, set yourself goals so you can enjoy this feeling. For instance, "This afternoon I'm going to finish Chapter 1."

- sauna. This is the only way to survive winters where I live. It just makes such a difference when the weather is dreary. I try to go at least once a week. Surely they have something in the DC area for you.

- turn on lights. I find it helps when I turn on all the lights in my work space, even if I don't necessarily need the light. I have halogens, not fluorescent, which gives a nice broad spectrum of light similar to sunshine.

Hope that helps!

[Edited at 2003-11-07 10:30]


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Anne Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Set yourself goals Nov 7, 2003

At the beginning of the day, you could set yourself a realistic goal about how many words you want to translate that day. At the end of every hour, write down how many words you have translated, and then take a 5 to 10 minute break. Try to beat that score in the next hour, by the time your next break is due. See how you progress in this competition with yourself.
Have a big jug of water or squash near your desk (not too close your keyboard!) and drink as much as you can. Try it, you may be surprised, because dehydration messes with the brain.


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Edwal Rospigliosi  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:03
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Clean your office Nov 7, 2003

Besides everything our colleagues have said, you should clean your office. When I see coffee stains on the desk, papers on the floor, and an untidy environment, it somehow kills all my concentration. Make your environment a nice, tidy one and it will help. If you can change the furniture layout, it will help, too.

[Edited at 2003-11-07 16:03]


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Marcus Malabad  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:03
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
It seems to me... Nov 7, 2003

..the problem could be attention deficit disorder (ADD). I am not a medical doctor, mind you, nor even someone with a thorough understanding of things pharmaceutical. However, I can cite my experience in these matters.

If you think your problem has had longstanding roots and has been persistent despite the active measures that you've done, then perhaps it's time for you (and everyone else reading this) to ask yourself if you have the following adult symptoms:

* Fidgetiness, rarely overt hyperactivity, and often just rhythmic leg-shaking, hand tapping, and restlessness
* Impulsivity with thoughts racing through the mind causing disorganization
* Inattention for "boring" activities such as reading economic reports, putting together tax information, finishing half-finished room repairs, and the like
* Waking slowly in the morning unless unusually excited
* Falling asleep with difficulty often handled by staying up until overwhelmingly tired and able then to easily fall asleep
* Spatial and/or verbal dyslexia
* Episodic explosiveness which may include spousal and child abuse, self-mutilation, screaming or hitting others
* Unexplained emotional negativity or exhibit symptoms of depression without obvious cause
* Unexplained irritability over little issues or matters.

Remember that you don't have to have all of these symptoms to suffer from the illness. Perhaps you just have a mild form? Perhaps it's triggered by something else or maybe it's a concomitant disorder of something more serious.

In my experience I've had at least the first five symptoms above in some form or another sometime in my life. You may not have the more serious symptoms like dyslexia and you might have learned behavior as an adult that masks or suppresses the more acute manifestations like irritability and negativity.

Some more questions to ask:
* can you prioritize well?
* are you good with time management?
* do you seem to dabble in lots of things?
* do you focus on an activity or your latest interest only with serious concentration and effort?
* have you ever been accused of being flighty, forgetful, fickle, erratic or capricious?
* can you read a full page of a book without wandering off mentally?
* are you easily distracted by outside stimuli?
* can you engage in several activities (physical and mental) all at the same time without being flustered and worked up?
* are you hyperactive and seem to be "on the go" all the time to many people?
* are you impulsive and do and say things that pop up in your mind without little regard to their consequence?

To know what's it like to have ADD you can read this excellent medical description.

You can find an excellent read on treatment here.

Let me finish on a good note. There are numerous apt pharmaceutical remedies on the market. Ritalin (methylphenidate) is the most prescribed.

Whatever you do, talk to your physician!

Health and tranquility to all,
Marcus



[Edited at 2003-11-07 17:02]


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Gareth McMillan  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:03
German to English
+ ...
Scaremongering doesn't help anyone, especially if you don't know them!! Nov 7, 2003

Marcus Malabad wrote:

..the problem could be attention deficit disorder (ADD). I am not a medical doctor, mind you, nor even someone with a thorough understanding of things pharmaceutical. However, I can cite my experience in these matters.

If you think your problem has had longstanding roots and has been persistent despite the active measures that you've done, then perhaps it's time for you (and everyone else reading this) to ask yourself if you have the following adult symptoms:

* Fidgetiness, rarely overt hyperactivity, and often just rhythmic leg-shaking, hand tapping, and restlessness
* Impulsivity with thoughts racing through the mind causing disorganization
* Inattention for "boring" activities such as reading economic reports, putting together tax information, finishing half-finished room repairs, and the like
* Waking slowly in the morning unless unusually excited
* Falling asleep with difficulty often handled by staying up until overwhelmingly tired and able then to easily fall asleep
* Spatial and/or verbal dyslexia
* Episodic explosiveness which may include spousal and child abuse, self-mutilation, screaming or hitting others
* Unexplained emotional negativity or exhibit symptoms of depression without obvious cause
* Unexplained irritability over little issues or matters.

Remember that you don't have to have all of these symptoms to suffer from the illness. Perhaps you just have a mild form? Perhaps it's triggered by something else or maybe it's a concomitant disorder of something more serious.

In my experience I've had at least the first five symptoms above in some form or another sometime in my life. You may not have the more serious symptoms like dyslexia and you might have learned behavior as an adult that masks or suppresses the more acute manifestations like irritability and negativity.

Some more questions to ask:
* can you prioritize well?
* are you good with time management?
* do you seem to dabble in lots of things?
* do you focus on an activity or your latest interest only with serious concentration and effort?
* have you ever been accused of being flighty, forgetful, fickle, erratic or capricious?
* can you read a full page of a book without wandering off mentally?
* are you easily distracted by outside stimuli?
* can you engage in several activities (physical and mental) all at the same time without being flustered and worked up?
* are you hyperactive and seem to be "on the go" all the time to many people?
* are you impulsive and do and say things that pop up in your mind without little regard to their consequence?

To know what's it like to have ADD you can read this excellent medical description.

You can find an excellent read on treatment here.

Let me finish on a good note. There are numerous apt pharmaceutical remedies on the market. Ritalin (methylphenidate) is the most prescribed.

Whatever you do, talk to your physician!

Health and tranquility to all,
Marcus



[Edited at 2003-11-07 17:02]


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Marcus Malabad  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:03
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
not scaremongering Nov 7, 2003

I call it sharing information. Why be alarmed when all I wrote were *possible* explanations. You might have noticed that I used the subjunctive mood a lot.

Marcus


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Gareth McMillan  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:03
German to English
+ ...
Apology for overstatement! Nov 7, 2003

Marcus Malabad wrote:

I call it sharing information. Why be alarmed when all I wrote were *possible* explanations. You might have noticed that I used the subjunctive mood a lot.

Marcus


I'm sorry, I may have overstated somewhat. I realise that as you put a great deal of effort behind your letter and you sincerely meant well.
I do,however, harbour, some anger at the medical profession (backed heavily by the pharmaceutical industry) and their attitude to ADD diagnosis. I have to sign off now, but I'll write some more on it later. I hope I haven't offended you too much to read it. You might even find it interesting.

Best regards,

Gareth McMillan


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Eva T
English to Albanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you to all Nov 7, 2003

Thanks to all who took time to give me advise on this problem. I really appreciate all your comments. Today I realized that I must change a lot of things.
I think that all this situation is due to a chain reactions. When I have exciting and long projects, I work hard and do not have time to spend.
On the other hand, when I have small or boring projects, I tend to procrastinate working on them, so I end up working late at night. Then I go to bed sometime around 2 or 3 am almost every night. The next morning, when I wake up, I am already tired (wonder why!)
Also, my room is dark, so I will open the blinds to get more light inside. I will start with these things first, hopefully they will work. I have a feeling that they will. If not, I guess I have to see a doctor then.

I really want to THANK all of you who shared your ideas and experiences with me. I already feel like I am in my family, that is why I felt like discussing with you my problems and difficulties.
Thank you all and have a great weekend.
Eva


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