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Checking in - Take Back My Day
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Checking in

This post comes out at a mid-way point and marks exciting developments, at least in the United States. We find ourselves mid-way through the 2021 business year and on the verge of economic recovery after the pandemic. Whether in life or in a specific work project, the mid-way or 50%-mark is a useful reassessment point. Too often, a workday begins with the best of intentions, only to unravel with unexpected disruptions and typical freelance decisions: Say yes to more work and stress about it or finish what needs to be done before worrying about the next project? Postpone important work steps until later to take care of everyday life or let go, yet again, of intentions to step away from the computer to exercise and pursue other activities? Overcompensate for lack of productivity by staying up late and consuming extra caffeine?

Including a mid-way point into daily time planning is an effective way to stay on target. It doesn't particularly matter how you measure such a point. Whether you set an alarm for a specific time of day or pause at the 50% completion mark in a work project, taking a few moments for realignment can be a helpful practice. I like to divide challenging translation projects into percentage-based segments. Reaching these mini-milestones is a reminder to move around and take care of other responsibilities. These deliberate small breaks bring greater clarity and focus to my work. The 50%-mark is an especially informative point to check in with yourself: Is the work going as smoothly as you thought? For example, your terminology research may have consumed much more time than you anticipated, or your client may have been slow to answer your questions. Perhaps you became side-tracked by unrelated activities, boredom, or irritation.

An honest mid-way assessment allows for clear decisions. What are the next steps to complete the work in the quality you want to deliver? How much time will you need? (Hint: the time it took to do the first half plus 30 percent.) How can you adjust your daily schedule to accommodate these time needs without stress? Regular 50%-checks provide valuable data about your true work pace and output -- informed insights that will help you decide whether to say yes or no to future projects.

In a much broader sense, other mid-way points can provide helpful information as well. For example, the end of the second quarter of 2021 is an opportunity to explore the general direction your business is taking. Your business management and accounting software includes tools to analyze earnings and trends, but you can also think of your experiences over the past six months. Which projects/clients were a joy to work with (or not)? Did you explore new topics that could become a profitable area of specialization? How did you come back from dry spells in your workload?

Effective management of your time resources and business capacity requires awareness. As you know from the technology side of your business, this awareness is created by situational learning -- a fancy way of saying we learn the most when things don't go our way. Mid-way points are an opportunity to check in, but also to experiment with your work approaches. Don't be afraid to try something new as you figure out how you can complete the second half -- with time and energy to spare.

(Note: A longer version of this post was published in the Tool Box Journal, Issue 21-6-326)

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