New translators, does technology stress you out? Do you see it as an enemy?
Me too! Thoughts I've had include: I don't know where to start! It's taking so long to learn how to use, will this ever help me? I can't believe it just crashed again!! A colleague recently said, "It looks too complicated."
But, guess what? Technology is here to stay! It's a significant part of being a translator in the 21st century. Yes, it's stressful. Yes, it can be overwhelming. Yes, it can seem like the enemy... You've got to see it in a different light, though.
What can you do? Stop seeing it as an enemy. Instead, nurture a business relationship with it. When you’re running a one-person business, view all things technology as partners with different skills, there to help you.
Just like with real people, before you go into business with anyone, get to know them, figure out which ones you work best with, which ones bring you the most value. Don't rush it, though. Accept that this process will take some time.
Also, just like with real people, there comes a time when you and your partner part ways. You find a new one to meet your business's ever-evolving needs. It's nothing personal against the old partner, it's simply time to move on.
I'm only sharing this perspective with you because it was a sort of epiphany for me recently when I had to replace my laptop. Here's my tale of learning to see my computer as my business partner, instead of an enemy out to ruin me.
A month ago, in the middle of translating subtitles with a deadline 48 hours away, my laptop, containing all of my photos and many files, BIT THE DUST! As my friend put it, "Your hard drive is toast."
I could've panicked, screamed, “CURSE YOU TECHNOLOGY!” while shaking my fist at the heavens. I could’ve run to Best Buy and bought the very first computer I saw in order to get back to work ASAP. I knew those wouldn’t be wise decisions, though. So, I took a few breaths, and contemplated my next move for a couple of weeks while translating on my iPad and a Google Chromecast.
What it came down to was looking at how my computer setup had served me in the past, present, and how it’d serve me in the future. What business partner did I want to befriend next? What benefits would she bring to the table?
I made a list under these three categories:
The Past: Prior to translating, I used my computer for…
The Present: I translate and run my freelance business full-time, so I’m more demanding of my relationship. Here's how I use it now...
The Future: What I expect from my future technology partner…
With all of that in mind, and the advice of a computer nerd friend, I decided to add a few new partners to my business. Major support will come from a Surface - you know, the 2-in-1 type. I will also start using the cloud more actively as well as an external hard drive. In the next three months, I will invest in a full-sized monitor to attach my laptop to while at home, so I get the comfort of using a desktop computer.
I’m confident that treating technology as a friend instead of cursing it was the best decision. I know, translator friends, it’s not easy to get along with sometimes. It will challenge you, but you can be the better person and keep a strong relationship going with a little patience. In the end, you (and your clients) will benefit greatly.
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