Are you still hunting and pecking for keys? Do you use less than all ten fingers to translate? If you said yes, you wouldn’t be alone.
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Someone was online last week talking about how much time they’ve saved by learning to type with all ten fingers, and I remembered that I’d seen this ProZ poll and was pretty shocked by it. Not counting the other category (whatever that means) and the 1.4% of people who use voice recognition that leaves 53% of the translators who answered this poll (whether that’s representative of all of ProZ I’m not sure) use less than 10 fingers to type.
If you were a carpenter would you leave some of your tools at home? If you were a dentist would you only use 7 of the 10 tools you have? Our fingers are our tools and not using all of the tools in your arsenal is leaving money on the table. Why would you do that?
I’m not saying it’s impossible to type quickly only using 6 fingers or even two fingers as I’m sure there are translators out there who type very quickly using their own self-taught method. However, I would argue that those who use more fingers consistently type more quickly, and probably more accurately as they don’t have to move their whole hand around. Plus, although this isn’t the point of this article, they have much better ergonomics and less stress on their hands and wrists, which adds up after decades of typing for 8 hours.
The numbers game (Beware! Math calculations below)
If we say, on average, a full-time translator translates about 2,500 words/day. Yes, I know it depends on context, the source, how well you know the material, etc. etc. but let’s say for argument's sake that a good round number is 2,500 words.
(the next calculations don’t account for proofing or editing, just the actual typing of the translation)
If those 2,500 words take 5 hours to translate that’s 500 words/hour
2,500 words in 4 hours that’s 625
2,500 in 3 hours that’s 833
So, looking at those numbers the difference between 5 hours of translation work to 4 hours of translating is increasing your typing speed by 2 words per minute. (I understand there’s research and other things involved, but if it were solely based on typing speed, that’s the difference).
625 words – 500 words = 125 words / 60 minutes = about 2 words/minute
My point is this, if you increase your typing speed by only 2 words a minute you can save 1 hour a day, 5 hours a week and 260 hours or 10.8 days a year.
According to ZipRecruiter.com, An average full-time freelance translator makes about $60,000/year which boils down to around $30/hour.
With the calculations above, if you increase your typing speed by 2 words per minute, you could earn:
260 hours saved x $30/hour = $7,800 a year
(*These are obviously ballpark figures as I know translating is much more complicated than just typing out words)
I understand that every translation is different and there is research involved but a minimal increase in typing speed of 2 words per minute can save you days throughout the year, and you could use that time to make an extra $7,800. Imagine what a 10 word/minute increase or 20 word/minute increase could do to your productivity and salary.
It might be worth it to take a typing test to see your baseline and what you can do to improve it. Typing is an integral part of our lives and getting only a few more words per minute can make a huge difference in the long run.
Do you want to do things the best that you know how or the best way possible?
Typing test: https://www.livechatinc.com/typing-speed-test/?t=42701018#/
Free online typing program: https://www.typingclub.com/