It is true that translation is a constantly evolving linguistic science and at the same time an overwhelming art. In the past few years, more and more people around the world wish to indulge themselves into translation and work as freelance translators. They are essentially self-employed and are not necessarily committed to an employer in the long run. The term freelancing is very common in the cultural and creative industries [such as music, writing, computer programming, web design, movie and video production, and other industries – and it’s a popular lifestyle – it sounds pretty appealing to be able to work whenever you want, wherever you want, for whomever you want.
However, once you set up your own business, in this case once you start providing translation services, you are likely to get stuck in your own bubble dealing with the everyday job responsibilities. Workload, unhappy customers, non-payment of finished project, cancelled jobs, meeting deadlines, dealing with crackpot clients, time management are some of the most common problems a freelance translator has to deal with in his career. In this article, we will focus on one of the biggest problems a freelance translator has to tackle… time management.
People working 9-5 usually have a specific schedule to follow, so they more or less know the amount and frequency of work that is expected from them within a specific time frame. Thus, they can control the time needed for their projects. However, when you work as a freelancer, there is no way to foresee the amount of work that will come to you.
Setting up your limits. Create Your Own Time Management Formula
First of all, it is important to know your limits. Working as freelance translator means that you are self-employed: your income depends on your personal work. The more you work, the more money you earn. Nevertheless, you have to find a schedule and a lifestyle that suits your personality, your abilities and the levels of stress you can handle. Maybe working 24/7 a month and taking a break the next one suits you, or on you might prefer to work a few hours every day and have a better quality of life.
Each of us works differently adapting time to their own schedule, personality and skills.
Set your priorities
Prioritize tasks based on how important and urgent they are. For example, determine which projects are most important by creating a scale.
- Important and urgent projects
- Important but not urgent projects
- Urgent but not important projects
- Not urgent and not important projects
Sometimes you just have to Say “No”
If a regular customer asks you for an unexpected project, will you do it? This can be very stressful since you have to change your regular program and take on another project. In this case, you have to ask yourself: Will you reject the project and disappoint your client or will you work more? On the other hand, you could just say no or ask for more time, and this does not mean that you are less professional.
Ask for Help
One benefit of working as a freelancer is that you can work with other freelancers when you don’t have much time. Work with a colleague or outsource a project. (https://www.metaphrasi.gr/en/2018/06/17/how-to-avoid-burnout-as-a-freelance-translator/). For instance, if you want to take over a new translation project but you do not have enough time, you can hire a translator with a fixed-term or part-time contract, or share the project with a fellow translator. As a result, your workload and stress level will reduce, by catching up with your regular schedule. Of course, this also requires estimating the time that you need to review and check again the project so as to ensure the consistency and coherence across the text.
Don’t distract yourself from your work
That is easier said than done. However, you need to eliminate distractions if you want to control your time and stick on your regular schedule. How? Silence your mobile phone with “not disturb mode”, or log out your facebook account. If you find it difficult to resist the notifications, take baby steps first and figure out what is distracting you the most, then try to reduce it. There are many applications that will help you with this, but in the beginning, you will need to spend some time in order to familiarize yourself with / install them.
Use a time management application
There are many supporters of time management applications and their utility such as Trello, Asana and many more. Personally, I think, I would spend more time familiarizing myself with them than using them in my everyday life! But again, it depends on your mood and your style of work. You can try and check if they suit you!
All in all, when you set up your limits, define your top priorities, ask for help, or decline a new project, you are one step closer to manage your time successfully. In any case, try to create the best working conditions for you after understanding your limits. By organizing correctly your time, you will be able to undertake extra tasksand of course make more money.
This article was co-authored by Georgia Efthymiopoulou