I took on a ton of transcription work for this weekend, four audio hours. It takes about four hours to transcribe an hour of decent-quality audio, plus there’s extra time needed for proofreading and researching. So it amounts to about 18 hours of work.
Transcription is surprisingly physical work since you have to sit in pretty much the same position while you’re doing it. My transcription equipment includes a foot pedal, which gives me the maximum speed possible, so it’s not like I can grab the laptop and go sit in a lounge chair to change position every once in a while.
The only way to handle such a huge amount of typing/sitting down/staring at a computer screen is to take frequent breaks. I start the day taking 15 to 30 minute breaks every 15 audio minutes, about each hour. During these breaks, I have to get up and move around!
So, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing down little chores that can be done in short bursts, like throwing on a load of laundry, washing the floors, cleaning the microwave, vacuuming the loft, putting bread ingredients in the bread maker, etc.
By the time I’ve hit a full audio hour, I’ve already put in a solid four hours at my desk. This usually falls mid-afternoon (2PM today) and I take about an hour off. I have a nice lunch in the kitchen, clean up my dishes, switch out the laundry, do my personal emailing, etc.
The final audio hour is a bit tougher. My legs start to get sore and my fingers become clumsy. I still try to take my breaks every 15 audio minutes, but it’s usually every 10 audio minutes. These breaks are short, just a stretch.
When I have a half hour of audio to go, about two hours of work, I start thinking about dinner. Yesterday, I cut up onions and carrots at the half hour mark. At the 15 minute mark, I caramelized the onions in the rice cooker, then added rice, chicken, raisins, and Moroccan spices. An hour later, I was done for the day, an incredibly fragrant aroma was wafting through the rig, and I was nearly caught up on my chores. It was 7PM.
After dinner, I cleaned up the kitchen and took off for an hour-long walk. It doesn’t matter that my knees have been horrible the last few weeks, I can just sack out with a movie after a day of transcription, I need to get the blood circulating!
Sure, the frequent breaks mean that I have a longer work day, but they also mean that I don’t emerge from the study at the end of the day completely exhausted and drained. Instead, I can relax since there isn’t a mountain of chores waiting for me. I think that my method is a perfect example of solid work/life balance.
Afternoon break is over, back to work I go!
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