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Five Tips for Long, Boring Transcripts

by Joanna Norman

Sometimes, as a general transcriptionist, you end up working on a file that’s really long and really boring. Of course “boring” is totally subjective and if you are lucky, you’re able to select your clients and subcontracts so that you almost always are working on material that you find interesting. Once in a while though, I still end up transcribing a 60+ minute audio file that just about bores me to tears. These types of files can be hard for me to get done efficiently because I am more inclined to get distracted when working on a file that I don’t find very interesting.

Below are five tips, in no particular order, to help you get those occasional boring files done quickly — so you can move on to more interesting work. 

  1. Use the 52/17 rule. Set a timer for 52 minutes. Work on transcribing the troublemaker file exclusively for the entire 52 minutes. As soon as your timers goes off, you get 17 minutes to do something fun. So, set your timer for 17 minutes, walk away from your computer, and do something really fun. Then repeat the 52/17 time blocks until that awful file is done. Check out this previous blog post for more details on the 52/17 rule.
  2. Break up the work on the awful file by transcribing other fun things in between. I have a client that provides work that I LOVE working on, often short marketing videos that make me smile. If I have a really boring file that I am also working on, I will work on the less interesting file for a couple hours, then take a break and work on a happy little video for a hour, and then go back to the tough file.
  3. Make new auto correct features. Sometimes, if I’m having a hard time getting through a file, I will use it as an opportunity to create new autocorrect shortcuts and practice using them. This means that even though the file is not particularly interesting to me, I’m using it as an opportunity to create and master typing shortcuts that will ultimately speed up my work.  
  4. Jot down distracting thoughts and keep going. If a file really doesn’t interest me, my mind wants to wander to other things that I’d rather be doing or that are more interesting. I keep a reusable Rocket Notebook by my computer at all times. If something pops into my mind, such as “I’d like to look up campgrounds on the peak to peak highway,” I jot it in my notebook and go right back to transcribing. Then I can use that other thing I wanted to do as a reward for reaching a particular time point in the audio file. For example, I set the goal of reaching the 30 minute mark, and reward myself by taking a break to look up the peak to peak highway.
  5. Take short, frequent breaks to do tasks that you have been putting off, for example, making the phone call to make the dentist appointment. Your boring transcript may not seem so awful if you don’t want to do the task that you said you would do on your break. Reverse psychology?

What tricks do you use to help you get done with a tough or boring transcript? Please share your tips in the comments below.

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