Wouldn't you just love to program a robot to do some of the dreary tasks that go along with translating? True, we already have computers and software to carry some of the burden. However, there is always room for improvement. There are always ways to make your computer, the software on it and yes, even you, the translator more efficient.
Before I delve into what I want to tell you about, automation, I would like to say a word about a novel I read in college for a Spanish course. Its title is La invención de Morel
by Adolfo Bioy Casares. It is about a man on a South Pacific island who watches images of real people who do the same things every day. He even falls in love with one of the women. (That's all I'll tell you because there is nothing worse than being told the end of a good book or movie you wanted to read or see).
If I weren't a modest person, I would say that I offer you La invención de Reed
, namely automating your daily tasks so you can concentrate on other things. Actually, I would be taking other people's credit in calling it so, so perhaps I would just leave it at La configuración de Reed
There are several software applications on the market, some free, some shareware that will allow you to program your computer to execute tasks. You need go no further than Scheduled Tasks in Microsoft Windows. If you aren't planning on scheduling complicated tasks or using this functionality that often, then perhaps you could give it a try.
If you are looking to achieve more, then I suggest googling Automation software
or searching for it at CNET Downloads
I have been content with Schedule Wizard
for over three years now. It has a task scheduler that includes several functions, more than I care to mention here, that includes launching applications and messages, an address book, a to do list and a macro recorder and macro scripting. It comes with periodic updates, so it is a product that is constantly being improved upon. In addition, with your purchase of Schedule Wizard, you are entitled to one year of service, which means that you can contact the developer and ask him all your questions. This is handy when you want to perform a specialized task but aren't sure how to execute it properly.
Now that I have told you about automation software, you might be curious to know how it can be used. I let Schedule Wizard remind me of all my financial obligations. I don't always remember what day the first business day of the month falls on, or maybe I secretly want to put off invoicing. A message that pops up on my screen bright and early conditions me to write up those invoices promptly. If I like, I can have whatever applications launch automatically along with the message so I am all set and focused on the task at hand.
Along these same lines, Schedule Wizard can be something of a homemade RSS reader. I never got into the habit of using RSS readers, and not everything I like to check periodically is syndicated. Therefore, I let Schedule Wizard launch those websites for me. As a news-conscious translator, I have CNN launched every day at 12:00 p.m. I use my laptop for this task so that my web browser does not interrupt me if I happen to be translating at that hour. Just as a nutritionist ensures that a person eats a well-balanced diet, Schedule Wizard helps me to read what I need to be reading at a time that is convenient for me, which, in my case, is not too late in the day.
Accounting, and especially collections are never too far away from a freelance translator's thoughts. It is easy to let dates and payments slip by in favor of translating work. That is why I program e-mail reminders to be sent on a certain date to remind clients that they need to pay me promptly. This is much better for me than having to remind myself constantly to perform these tasks. This way, I concentrate my administrative work into a slow morning, and when the time comes to send the actual message, I am able to work on translating.
Instead of using special backup applications, you can tell Schedule Wizard to do it. It's a matter of selecting the right files and folders to back up and the destination drive. If your backup needs are more demanding, or you feel it is a hassle writing the script to make Schedule Wizard perform the backup job, you could always have Schedule Wizard execute your backup software and let that program do the backing up. Automation is all about choices!
One Schedule Wizard feature that I did not use until some months after purchasing the program are the triggers. In a word, you are telling the program: "If X occurs, then do Y." Let us suppose that there is a certain type of file that a client sends you that you want to be sent directly to a certain folder. By creating a trigger, you can do this.
As many of you reading this article do not have a boss to tell you what you need to do and when you need to do it, or a secretary to tell what and when to do things, configuring your computer to execute vital tasks can be a viable option. If you haven't already, you will benefit from optimizing your workday by assigning routine tasks and reminders to your computer and not to your brain and fingers. You will see how your productivity, quality and peace of mind will increase.