Greater than 5 minutes, my friend!
Recently I’ve heard Do-It Days mentioned as an effective tool for getting things done, something always attractive for translators who have many plates in the air. I got on a waiting list for the next event and before I knew it one morning I received an email offering a slot that very day.
The way Do-It Days work is that you are given a link to a chat room (or a phone number, if you prefer) and you check in every hour with a 30-second update on your goals and your progress. It’s as simple as that. Yet it was so powerful that I started taking notes in the first hour, knowing that I had to share my experience. The following are these notes, and I hope they inspire you to try a Do-It Day to do what needs to be done!
Do-It Day Hour 1 (9 am for the event organizers, noon local time): When asked to sum up my goals for the day in 30 seconds, I state I have two articles to translate and a bank problem to fix. The facilitator tells us all to go and do our stuff, and report back at the top of the next hour. Great, right? Now I absolutely have to fix my bank problem, which I have been avoiding for weeks.
Hour 2 (1 pm local): I am the last to call in and feel like a fool. These folks are prompt, and every second counts! But I explain I’m in Brazil and my workday started 6 hours ago, and they get it. I report that I took care of my bank problem (it was actually pretty painless) and now for the next hour I need a solid hour of translation work. Fantastic, off we go.
Just prior to Hour 3 (2 pm local): I finished one article, but then had to run to the pharmacy, take my kid to the bus station and then call a complaint line after the ticket guy refused to give change… in short, my hour was mostly shot. Luckily I did most of the first article in hour 1 and finished it off before I left. But what is my goal for the next hour? I desperately look around my desk. I thought I had so much pending!!
Hour 3 (2 pm local): I arrive 5 minutes early this time and report that I got my article done. When asked what I plan to do next, I blurt out “I’m going to exercise.” Whoops. Now I have to exercise. This stuff is dangerous! As we close the call, Skype starts to ring. Surprise! Conference call from Portugal.
Hour 4 (3 pm local): I cut short my workout to make sure I’m not late (since the conference call took half an hour). Chrome suddenly freezes and I miss my 30-second check-in. On the bright side, I set no goal. Maybe I can finally just have my lunch and take a shower (or maybe invent some more goals to check off during the day).
Hour 5 (4 pm local): I am the first one in the chat room and double-check my browser and mike just to be safe. I’m still in my sweaty gym clothes and lunch didn’t happen due to client calls (I did make a smoothie, which is sitting next to me with a giant bottle of water). When asked, I report that I had a conference call, exercised, and in the next hour I plan to translate half of the remaining article.
Hour 6 (5 pm local): For the last two hours clients have been calling and emailing nonstop and I can’t get anything done. I’m watching the clock as if it were my last minutes on earth. I managed to translate 87 segments, but things are so crazy I have no idea if I’m close to done. At this point I am just moving on momentum. There are more people in the chat room this time, and I respond I am at my halfway mark. The rest of the participants all seem to be spending their day in meetings, which makes me start to feel sullen; my workday started at 7am and I envy these fresh and energetic folks calling in from Seattle. I need a bucket full of coffee. Over the past hour I’ve done an urgent ASAP job, answered questions for colleagues who needed help, called to register a complaint with the bus people, and threatened a non-payer with legal action. What am I going to do in the next hour? I’m going to take a break. I’m going to pay a few bills online, take a shower (finally), and drink that bucket of coffee. Nobody gasps when I say this. I’m only human, after all.
Hour 7 (6 pm local): Here I am, happy, clean, well-caffeinated. I didn’t get to pay the bills, but I talked to two more clients and have two more jobs in line. When my check-in comes, I say I am going to work a full hour for my last hour of the day without any Facebook or interruptions and finish strong.
Hour 8 (7 pm local): I finish the second article within the first 30 minutes and decide to start dinner. At 7 pm I look at the clock and think, oh boy, and then look back down at the cutting board covered in okra. I don’t make the last check-in, but I think I can say mission accomplished: this has been a very productive day.
I would absolutely recommend this program to anyone, with one caveat: USE ONLY WHEN NEEDED. This is a very powerful tool and can get a LOT done. But you are racing the clock, and while checking things off your list is rewarding, if you don’t prepare ahead of time and create a list of achievable goals you may feel like you’re spinning your wheels. For a normal translation workday this would be like using a flamethrower to kill a mosquito, but if you have several small jobs and those collection calls you’ve been dreading, or if you absolutely must deliver your conference proposal or tax declaration tomorrow, this group model is a fabulous motivator. Reservations are required and you must commit to participating since space is limited. More info at http://www.steverrobbins.com/doitdays/
Stever Robbins is an executive coach and serial entrepreneur who focuses on effectiveness and time management. He is involved in an impressive array of ventures, but translators may be most interested in his participation in the Quick and Dirty Tips books and website, as well as the Get-It-Done Guy podcast (http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/get-it-done-guy). Many thanks to Stever for his firm but kind motivation and support, and for continuing to offer Do-It-Days to the world at large!