Keep calm and carry on – how to cope with the emotional stress of working as a freelance translator

April 17, 2019
Keep calm and carry on – how to cope with the emotional stress of working as a freelance translator

Working as a freelance translator can be an incredibly enjoyable experience – when the work is flowing at a manageable pace and your clients are behaving themselves. However, if you’re facing too much work or too little, or dealing with clients who don’t pay, it can change from feeling fulfilling to feeling isolating and frustrating fairly rapidly. 

If you’re feeling the pressure of freelance translation work, you’re not alone. And you don’t have to suffer in silence. Here are our top five tips for coping with the emotional stress of working as a freelance translator. 

1. Mix with other freelancers

Just because you work remotely, doesn’t mean you have to feel alone. There are plenty of ways to network with the freelance translation community, from Facebook groups and chatrooms to attending events specifically aimed at translators. Reaching out to your fellow freelancers is a great way to access support, whether it’s to have quick moan about something or to seek advice with a deeper issue. Remember: those who work 9-5 don’t always understand the particular stresses that freelancers experience, so mixing with other freelancers – whether online or in person – is often the best route to getting the emotional support you need. 

2. Prioritise your downtime 

All freelancers experience peaks and troughs in their workload and there will inevitably be times when you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. However, if those times are becoming the norm, it might mean you need to look at your work/life balance and reprioritise. 

We all need downtime. Whatever you do to relax and unwind, it’s important to take a break from work and allow your brain time to rest. If there isn’t enough room in your working schedule for downtime, make room! It might not be achievable immediately if you’re swamped with work, but it’s important to at least work towards a better work/life balance, even if that’s not doable right now. 

3. Switch off when you switch off

Following on from the need to make sure you have enough downtime, make sure that you use that time wisely. When you switch off, make sure you do so completely. If you’re checking your phone and responding to emails, you’re not letting your brain escape from work. So take the plunge and switch your phone off! 

4. Enjoy branching out

One of the wonderful parts of working freelance is enjoying the freedom to be creative. It’s easy to lose sight of this when the pressures of work are getting you down, but you always have the option to flex and change your direction, based on what you enjoy the most about your work and want to do more of. If you particularly enjoy the technical elements of website translation, for example, why not try your hand at app translation. If you prefer to focus on the content translation, why not promote your blog translation skills? Whatever you enjoy about your freelance translation career, you have the option to do more of it – so make the most of that opportunity! 

5. Know when you need professional support

We all need professional support from time to time. Whether you need help dealing with your freelance finances, upskilling in certain areas or coping with the emotional strain of busy periods (or quiet periods), the right support is out there. 

Knowing when you need help doesn’t in any way detract from your skills and abilities. It just means that you recognise that you can’t do everything yourself. As such, whether you need an accountant, a mentor or a counsellor, embrace that need and get the professional support that will help you to be the best that you can be! 

Final thoughts

What are your personal tactics for keeping calm as a freelance translation professional? Share your top tips in the comments below to help your fellow freelancers! 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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