How to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance as a Translator

November 6, 2019
How to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance as a Translator

Would you like to be more productive at work and enjoy greater job satisfaction? How about being more relaxed during your free time? When you achieve the right work-life balance as a translator, you can experience all of this and more. 

Working as a freelance translator is something that the majority of us do in order to put our passion for languages to good use. However, let’s be honest, there are times when translation can be a cruel taskmaster. When you’ve got projects stacking up, clients waiting for you to get back to them and leads that you just can’t find time to follow up, it’s easy for your stress levels to soar and the right work-life balance to go out of the window. 

That’s why, after providing translation services to thousands of clients around the world, the Tomedes team felt it was only right to share our translation and freelancing knowledge. Today’s focus? Ten top tips on maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a translator. Read on to discover all you need to know.  

1. Keep Your Workspace Serene

It’s important to have a dedicated workspace that is distinct and separate from your personal life. Those providing translation services while working from home can achieve this by having a home office in which to undertake their translation work. If you don’t have an entire room to dedicate to work, a clean, uncluttered desk area will certainly suffice. 

What’s important is that the place in which you work has its own ‘work vibe’ so that, as soon as you sit down, your brain is free to focus on the work at hand, rather than being distracted by piles of dirty dishes or a blaring television! 

2. Make Exercise a Part of Your Routine

Exercise can benefit pretty much every aspect of your personal and working life. It can help you sleep better, maintain a healthy weight, combat poor mental health, be more focused, have more energy… the list goes on! 

Do you incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine? If not, it’s time to start. Doing so can help you to maintain a healthy work-life balance by ensuring that you’re in tip-top condition to tackle the mental rigours of a day of translation. 

Say you provide Chinese translation (the English-Chinese language pairing is one of the most commonly requested, in our experience). It’s important to ensure that every character is absolutely perfect, even as your specialist subject knowledge is tested to the max. When you’re facing a full day of English to Chinese translation, it’s essential to start it in the right frame of mind – and exercise can help you achieve just that. 

Had enough to read for today? Then here’s a short video that sums everything up!


3. Don’t Be Afraid to Nap if You’re Tired!

Ok, so this tip comes with a firm ‘within reason’ attached to it! Obviously you can’t spend the whole day snoozing if you want to keep paying the bills, but a quick nap when you’re feeling worn out at work can actually make you more productive. 

Do you believe in the power of naps? A study by the University of Michigan found that adults who took a 60-minute nap, when compared with adults who watched a 60-minute nature video, exhibited less impulsive behaviour, had a higher tolerance to frustration and displayed improved focus and alertness. 

Still not convinced? Well, a study based on data from the American Time Use survey found that sleeping for an extra hour each week correlated to a 1.5% increase in short-term wages and a 4.9% increase in long-term wages. 

Next time you’re yawning at your desk, why not grab a quick 20 minutes and find out for yourself whether you feel more productive afterwards? 

4. Be Firm with Your Friends

It’s important to have a clear distinction between working time and personal time. That means being clear with friends and family that they can’t just pop round for a cup of tea when you’re working from home. 

Working from home means just that – working! If someone arrives to disturb your work, you have every right to explain that you’re in the middle of a translation and that you will need to catch up with them later. Some friends seems to find this harder to grasp than others, but be consistent and eventually the message will get through! 

5. Accept the Peaks and Troughs

Translation work, in common with many careers that focus around the written word, comes with peaks and troughs. Some months will be busier than others and you’ll have to work longer hours. At other times, you’ll have less work than you would ideally like. 

The important thing here is to accept the situation and acknowledge that your work-life balance is out of kilter. Once you’ve done that, you can establish a clear path to rebalancing it. Doing so will make it easier to cope with the stress of having too much work on – or too little! 

6. Say ‘No’ with Confidence

One way to help regulate the peaks and troughs is to learn to say ‘no’ with confidence. You’re not obliged to accept every job that comes your way. If you’re worried about losing a client if you say ‘no,’ why not buddy up with a fellow translator who can take on additional work when you’re at capacity? They can pay back the favour by sending clients your way during their own peak periods. 

7. Relax and Enjoy Your Down Time 

How often does a personal event of some sort fall within your usual working hours? 

Working as a freelance translator means that you are free to manage your time as you please. As such, when you take time out to attend to personal commitments, it’s important that you relax and enjoy them – even when they are at a time when you would usually be working. Try not to feel anxious about ‘missing’ work; remember that you are your own boss and are free to plan your time as you see fit!

8. Ignore Your Email

Do you check your email every time that it bings? Doing so can massively decrease your productivity! 

While it’s not feasible to ignore your email all day long, why not set yourself a limit of only checking it once per hour, or every two hours? That way, you can translate without interruption, letting the words flow. 

And in your personal time, try not to check your email at all. It takes some discipline but ensuring that personal time really is that can dramatically improve the quality of that time and hence your enjoyment of it. 

9. List Your Priorities

Make a list of your work priorities and your personal ones, then tick them off as you achieve them. It’s a super-simple way to remain focused and to enjoy the boost that you get from a sense of achievement at various intervals during the day. 

10. Allow Time for Admin

Whether it’s invoicing your clients, paying your bills or completing school-related tasks, there’s plenty of admin that can add to the pressure of both your working life and your personal time. Plan time specifically to complete it and you’ll find your stress level is likely to drop almost instantly! 

Final Thoughts 

So there you have it – out list of ten top tips for maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a translator. Which will you implement today? And what are your own tips? Feel free to share them in the comments! 

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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