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Want to Succeed? Focus on Systems Rather Than Goals

Translation Journal Update February 2015

How are you coming along with setting goals for 2016? Did you block out some time in your calendar this past week to plan how you want your business and personal life to look at the end of 2016? I hope you are well on your way!

In a previous email, I recommended a few relevant articles from the Internet to aid in your goal-setting process, including Jeff Haden’s “An Almost Foolproof Way to Achieve Every Goal You Set.” In this article, Haden writes that you can achieve your goals through the use of systems. This article in particular resonated with me.

I'm a big believer in developing systems and processes rather than simply focusing on the final goal. Systems are an enormous part of the everyday workflow in the translation company I manage. Without systems, we would literally have to work 24 hours a day simply to keep up. Life would be chaotic.

But by following well-planned procedures, all of us have a clear methodology for responding to any contingency that comes our way. Think of it this way: a goal is a target that you are trying to hit, whereas a system is a routine you follow in order to move forward in a certain direction on a consistent, predictable basis.

Let’s say your goal is to establish a translation company offering services to an impressive client list of businesses worldwide. Below are five steps for setting up systems to achieve your goal, based on this example (these steps can be applied to other goals as well).

1. Plan your attack
Identify what actions you regularly take to help make your goal a reality. In our example, determine the type of translation company you want and what your niche is. For example, will you specialize in medical, legal, technical, or literary translations? What languages will you translate into and from?

Determine how these and other pieces fit together, and then envision what your business will look like six months to three years down the track.

2. Set your priorities
Determine the essential steps for propelling your business forward. These could include setting up your website, re-establishing your contacts, determining your office facilities, or creating marketing materials. Figure out what the general sequence should be in order to proceed most effectively.

3. Automate the process
Now, determine what steps can be automated. What software or tools exist right now that can automatically accomplish the aforementioned tasks? One example might be computer assisted translation (CAT) software. What other tools can you use to simplify your process?

Building a website from scratch has become almost a thing of the past thanks to platforms such as WordPress and Joomla. There are tools available for day-to-day scheduling tasks such as Google Calendar, ScheduleOnce, and Calendly. And if your clients reside all over the globe, a tool called World Time Buddy is a useful tool for planning meetings in different time zones.

Writing (or typing) your goals will actually help your mind focus and you'll have more success in achieving your goals. Written goals will motivate, build confidence and the process of writing down goals makes goals real and concrete. I recommend online goal tracking tools such as Tooledo, Goal Buddy or Stickk. Each tool has its own unique features and one tool might better suit your needs. I’m using Tooledo to help keep track of my goals. With Tooledo, I set reminders and break down goals into smaller manageable tasks.

I’m also a huge fan of Evernote, which is a brilliant tool utilizing the save-it-for-later (or just-in-time) concept. The OCR feature is fantastic for allowing you to search for text within images. While the free version is serving my needs at the moment, I am considering upgrading to the premium edition for even more features. (You can find a free course on Evernote on the Translation Journal website.)

4. Batch your tasks
Develop sensible batches for tasks that make sense grouped together. For example, you might want to batch translations for the early part of the week, proofreading for the middle of the week, and client contacts for the end of the week. To help prevent burnout and deterioration of work quality, set aside blocks of uninterrupted time to focus on important tasks whenever possible.

If you are having trouble with distractions, a tool called RescueTime can help you better understand your daily habits as it tracks time spent on apps and computers and provides reports on how you spent your day. RescueTime offers both a free version (RescueTime Lite) and a premium paid version.

5. Review your systems
It is a good idea to spend a bit of time each week, or even each day, reviewing the quality of your systems. How did your expectations of what you wanted to accomplish today with your business match reality? This comparison can help you continually fine-tune your processes to reflect your changing business practices and priorities. I use a tool called iDoneThis to help me keep track of and review my systems and to-do list. It’s free for individual users.

Celebrate your accomplishments both big and small. Those small accomplishments will accumulate to create big changes. If we acknowledge our small wins by focusing on what is working rather than what is not, we create a space for even grander changes to come. You are entitled to be proud of your accomplishments!

With good systems in place, you eliminate confusion and always know what to do next. You maximize not only your time but your energy as well, and this is the perhaps the greatest benefit of developing systems for your business, be it translation or anything else.

Contributor Spotlight:

Gabe Bokor Translation Journal

Would You Eat This? Euphemisms in Business and Politics

Article in the January 2016 issue of the Translation Journal:
Written by Gabe Bokor

In business, politics, and other areas, euphemisms are often used to mask the real meaning of a word in order to sell a product, be it a cereal or a political system. In his article “Would You Eat This? Euphemisms in Business and Politics,” author Gabe Bokor explores terms created to mislead consumers, or at least to lessen the negative impact of the actual undisguised terms.
A delightful read – click here.

Have a great week, and all the best to you!

Karen Hodgson

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