Staying Focused - Introduction to Proficiency

Working from home as a medical transcriptionist has many rewarding features; however, it does take a great deal of discipline to be successful at making a good living to, in turn, have a good life.  There are steps to you can take to help maintain focus to enable you to produce quality work in high volumes.  Listed below are a few tips on how to stay focused and get the job done.

1.    Make a schedule that works for you and your family.  Give yourself about an hour to get started each day.  Some ideas on how to get yourself psyched up for your work schedule are as follows:

  • First, be sure to get a good night's sleep.  Good sleep hygiene is essential to being productive and accurate in this line of work.
  • Before starting your day, pour yourself a glass of water (or beverage of choice) before sitting down to work so that it's easily accessible while working.  I do not recommend eating while working but if you must have a snack to ward of hunger, make sure you choose healthy foods, such as carrots, bran cereal, etc.
  • Make sure you have a clean work area.
  • Go to the restroom.
  • Stretch a bit before sitting down to work.

2.     Manage distractions before they occur.

  • Turn the ringer off on the telephone.  Let voice mail or your answering machine take messages for you.  Be sure to turn the volume down on the answering machine so that it does not distract you.
  • Tell friends and family members that they are not to disturb you while working.  This may take some practice.  Try putting a sign on the door that reads something like, 'Enter at your own risk,' or 'Do not disturb unless there is bone showing or blood spurting.'  Sometimes, this is difficult for family members to understand at first, but they must realize that your job is at home and that when you are working, to please respect that.
  • Put the cats, dogs, any animals outside or in another room.
  • If you have small children, hiring a part-time baby sitter to come in for a few hours while you work might be a good idea.
  • Turn off/exit all chat boards, forums, messengers (put your 'busy' status on if you must have a messenger for work), and the like.  Do not surf the Internet under any circumstances.  If you must Google something, set a one-minute time limit only for research; otherwise, flag the question at hand, and send to Quality Assurance (QA) and ask for feedback.  You may want to invest in a timer that can help you keep up your time.

3.     Set... reasonable goals each day for yourself.  Be sure to new, more challenging, goals on an ongoing basis.

  • Type for one hour and work up to and hour-and-a-half without stopping for a break.
  • Set reasonable, obtainable hourly goals for your line count or minutes of dictation per day.  For example, it typically takes an hour to transcribe 12-15 minutes of dictation and it takes about an hour to type 120-150 lines.
  • Avoid checking your line counts until after you have worked at least three hours.

4.     Take short, 5- to 10-minute breaks every hour to every hour-and-a-half.  It's very important to take breaks throughout your day; however, limit these breaks to 5- to 10-minute breaks only.  Be sure to stretch and move around.  Refresh your drink.  Check all of your messages for emergencies.  Set a timer to keep you on task.

5.      If you incorporate a lunch break, take 30 minutes.  Eat a healthy meal for 10-15 minutes and, perhaps, take a 10-minute walk or walk on the treadmill or ride the stationary bike, if available.  It's very important to try to incorporate a healthy lifestyle, which will assist you in optimizing your productivity level as well as keeping your figure.

These are only a few tips on how to be proficient in your work as an MT.  These have worked for me and I hope that you will find them very helpful as well.

Happy Typing!

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