One of the biggest challenges of working from home as a legal transcriber is keeping on task and away from all of the distractions. If you are working with clients that do a lot of trials and depositions you may also have to deal with very quick turn arounds to get files back to the attorneys and staff. Creating an environment where you can be your most productive will help you stay on task, earn more money, and be able to pivot to new files as needed.
Know your speed
Knowing how fast you can type is one thing, knowing how fast you can transcribe is another. This can vary based on the type of file and quality of audio. For instance, training sessions with one speaker goes much faster than a trial with 4 parties talking back and forth answering questions, objecting, and giving instructions. Paragraphs are faster to type than questions and answers as you don’t have to change formatting. Poor audio quality can destroy your typical typing time. So being able to judge all of these things quickly when you get a file will help you determine what work load you can handle and prioritize files so everything is completed on time.
If you are just getting starting, make sure you track your time when you start files. Track the type of file and how many pages you are completing per hour, and how many minutes of audio. You’ll get faster as time goes, but these numbers will help you determine how much work you can take and realistically finish.
Time blocking is a time management strategy where you carve out chunks of time for specific activities. Working from home has a lot of distractions like laundry, eating, eating, eating, haha, you get the idea. Writing out your calendar and including time for all of those distractions will help you stay on task.
We teach our students how to use shortcodes you can build into Microsoft Word to help save massive typing time. For instance, a company name actually banned by China recently was “There Is a Group of Young People With Dreams, Who Believe They Can Make the Wonders of Life Under the Leadership of Uncle Niu Internet Technology Co Ltd.” Imagine having to type that 50 times during a deposition because the attorney uses the FULL name of the company every time he asks a question! By programming a shortcode once you realize this is happening you could type it with just three simple letters and the entire name will magically appear. Multiply that by 50 codes for frequently used phrases and you can cut your typing time by 20-25% easily!
Store Files Off Computer
Having the most up to date computer equipment is a given, but as a legal transcriber you will be working with large audio files everyday, and most jobs have multiple audio files to ensure they don’t miss anything. This can slow your computer down so much it will drive you insane! In our office we try to only keep the files we are currently working on the computer and transfer everything else to an external hard drive. If you are just learning legal transcription and can’t afford a complete computer upgrade, I highly recommend you invest in an external hard drive and clear as many files off your computer as possible.