11 Nov 2013

Why multiple screens can help you translate faster

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Translation is not anymore about working on one file, with nothing else, but
a dictionary opened. Internet browser, CAT tools, reference files, e-mail inbox all complete the list of necessary tools. Toggling back and forth between the windows takes longer and can be quite disturbing. There is, however, a brilliant solution to this chaos: multiple screens. Any number between two to four can boost your productivity and let you work faster.

How does it work in practice? As an English Polish translator I often need several files opened on my computer to complete a project. On a typical work day
I would have a CAT tool (usually SDL Trados) on my right bottom screen, dictionaries on the left bottom screen, Internet browser on the upper left monitor, plus source file or reference file, my e-mail inbox, and a file with project/time management schedule on the right upper screen. This is the minimum I need to have a full overview of my workflow. Using four screens is very easy and I got used to it in no time. With this solution I don’t have to toggle constantly among windows or close and open multiple files. Displaying the target and source files on the adjacent monitors makes it much easier to compare the content and I can also work more efficiently on my game localisation projects. The main advantage
of multiple screens is definitely higher productivity and quicker project deliveries.

 4 Monitors

                                                                                                                                          (Photo by D. Pawlak)

How do I know that I gain time when working with four monitors? To verify it, I made a small test. First, I worked on one screen translating an IT text from English into Polish, using Trados, 3 dictionaries, 2 reference files and Chrome with up to 10 tabs. I worked from 9 am to 4 pm with 1 hour pause and managed to translate about 2300 words. There were no significant repetitions in the file and no fuzzy matches. On the next day I continued my work on the same text with four screens. Nothing else changed: I used the same computer, the same amount of files was opened, working hours remained the same and my break was 1 hour in total. The text further contained mainly new words and its difficulty level didn’t change. At the end of the second test I ended up translating 3400 words. The result: using four screens allowed me to work about 32% faster.

You may argue though that in real life situations this work setup may pose a risk
of distraction, which has nothing to do with increased productivity. Well, it does not have to be the case. Whether or not you tend to get distracted by incoming e-mails or social media depends largely on your personal preferences and approach to your work. Staying focused can be equally demanding for the users of one monitor and for the fans of multiple screens.

Right, but what about the technical aspect? Obviously, multiple screens will not make the magic work, if your machine is not stable enough or is not equipped with the right graphic card with multiple outputs and extra memory. So, some necessary retrofit might be required. As daunting as this scenario may sound, it is definitely worth the investment and after a while you will be able to reap the benefits of speedy and efficient workflow. Multiple screens is the way to go, if you value quick access to all necessary resources and want to complete your work faster.

 

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About the author: Dorota Pawlak
Dorota helps businesses, organisations and individuals to communicate successfully across cultures in the online and offline world. She is an entrepreneur and a qualified translator specialising in IT and localisation of websites, games and software.

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