It is hard to believe but it’s true. In the nineties, not everyone had the Internet at home or even at work. Of course, some people had email accounts, although they often had hard-to-remember addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org. Those of us with a PC were thought of as minor geniuses, especially if it was a PC with a colour screen, Windows, and a collection of floppy disks!
Also amazing but true is that some of us were still handwriting our translations… no… not with a feather and an inkpot, silly! With black, ballpoint pens! A motorbike courier would ring the doorbell almost every night with a pile of questionnaires to ‘check’ in both languages. These would be compared and corrected overnight, before they were picked up the following morning by another courier. Then there were the bags of cassette tapes (remember those?) containing medical market research interviews that would be sent for translation and transcription on enormous sheets of squared paper. You had to write neatly and work carefully, because there was no way to delete mistakes. We had to work without spell checkers, online QA tools and memories. You needed a nice big stack of dictionaries to do the job. They still come in pretty useful… for holding up the computer monitor, that is!
The job may have been slower and more laborious, but life was certainly more peaceful and less stressful than it is nowadays. Even when we started using PCs to type transcriptions, we were on dial-up, pay-by-the-minute connections. Email was there, but you were not expected to be continuously available or to reply instantly to every question or comment. This made it far easier to concentrate.
Most time management blogs and articles point to email as one of today’s major time wasters. They recommend you only check your email a limited number of times a day. They obviously haven’t noticed that if you don’t reply to requests within five minutes you will get a telephone call or Skype message saying, “I’ve just sent you an email and you haven’t replied…” Perhaps the nineties weren’t so bad, after all?
So, how about you? How do you manage online interruptions?
Written by Juliet Allaway