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A substantial number of translators worldwide are freelancers, many working from the convenience of their own home. While home office has its own undisputable allures, there are plenty of pitfalls you might fall into. Make sure you don’t make the following freelancing mistakes!
Freelancing mistakes: #1 Bad organization.
You get up late, then breakfast, catching up with the news, the social media, a couple of YouTube videos, another cup of coffee… After all, you are your own boss, right? Wrong. By the time you actually get down to working, you realize it’s way past midday and you haven’t done anything. As a result, you end up working late into the night, desperately trying to make up for the lost time.
Good organization is key to successful freelancing. You need to keep a consistent schedule and try to minimize distractions, striving to be more productive. Try to always work within steady hours – for some people it will be early in the morning, others prefer working in the afternoon or evening. As a freelance translator working from home you have the comfort to be able to experiment. Check out what works best for you. But once you find you productivity peak – stick to it.
Freelancing mistakes: #2 Wasting time on multitasking
Many people like to believe they can multitask when it comes to work. In the past, multitasking was believed to increase productivity. But the sad reality is, that it doesn’t. Think about the last time you were trying to do a few things at once. Can you honestly say you gave each of the tasks the attention it deserved? Was it really efficient? The experts say, that when most people try to multitask, they end up switching back and forth to different activities, which has a negative impact on the end-result. You’re losing focus and waste your time, because your brain needs to familiarize itself with the task again.
Freelancing mistakes: #3 Forgetting to plan ahead
First of all, specify your goal well. Consider the pros and cons carefully and a given decision will bring you closer to your goal. As a freelance translator, you need to take care of more than just translation projects. You need to build good relationship with your current clients and look for new ones. You are solely responsible for creating your online presence and marketing your services to others. Thinking ahead is an important skill allowing you to allocate your resources wisely and organize your work in the most efficient way. The last thing you want to do is to make random, haphazard decisions.
Freelancing mistakes: #4 Messy workplace
Seems pretty obvious, but a disorganized working area may really distract you and have a bad impact on your productivity. Let’s start with separating your working space from the rest of your home. This is even more important, if you don’t have a separate room. The lack of a permanent working area at home is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Keep your workplace tidied and organized – the messier it gets, the more distractions it creates. Disorder prevents you from concentrating on the task you are doing. When the desk is tidy, you’ll be faster and more efficient.
Freelancing mistakes: #5 Not setting a boundary between work and private life
It’s easier to turn off your laptop and leave the company than to stop working when your home becomes both an office and a place to live. You need a lot of self-discipline to work as much as you really should. It’s best if you’ve developed the rhythm to clearly define the times you work and when you definitively call it a day. Keeping a work-life balance is an important factor that helps both prevent work burnout and reduce stress.
No matter if you’re just getting started, or have already learned the ropes of the freelancer lifestyle, making mistakes isn’t something you can avoid altogether. Don’t beat yourself up. The important thing is to take a step back once in a while to look critically at your day-to-day life and see if there’s any room for improvement.
A lot of newbies entering the world of translation believe the translators working with every customer who contacts them. If you, too, think that you can translate any text, you’ll soon realize this is not the case. We live in a world in which specialization is the most important factor and that is why you should choose one field of translation as soon as possible and try to become a master in it. To be able to achieve that, you need to make good use of glossaries.
Glossary, also known as a lexicon or a termbase, refer to a collection of terms and their meanings relating to a specific subject. Deja Vu X3 comes with a number of interesting features that make it easy to keep your glossary up-to-date and well-organized. Make sure you learn all about the Lexicon and Terminology Database!
The market dictates the rules
A number of translators focus primarily on those areas that generate profits. These would be fields like engineering, medicine, translation of contracts or administrative documents. Each of these areas uses specialized vocabulary, and searching for some phrases can mean more than looking them up in the dictionary or the Internet. Sometimes it can take several hours, and in some cases, you may need to ask for help. It may happen that the customer themselves ask us to translate the text in a specific way.
Each sentence can be translated in dozens of possible ways. Although all of the versions you come up with might be correct, only a few will be accepted by the customer. Glossaries make it easier to translate some phrases and stay consistent throughout the document. They provide the translator with suggestions on how to translate a given term or expression. This makes work much easier, smoother and much faster.
Sometimes these hints are incompatible with what the dictionaries say, because the client prefers to use a different phrase. This is a particularly common situation with translations of commercial offers or advertising campaigns. The “customer comes first” principle also seems to apply here. Your client might think that a given term will fit the target group better or sell their product better.
Glossaries mean accuracy
This rules applies especially if you provide technical translation and you want to make sure you use company- or industry-specific terms. In some cases, it might be advisable to consult your client about the glossary, to know you’re both on the same page. That way you’ll avoid confusion and be sure your translations are 100% correct. Having a glossary is also a good idea when collaborating with a team of translators on a project. Having a lexicon of terms is a guarantee that everyone understand the specific notions in the same way and use consistent terminology. Just imagine the horror of having a given word translated differently each time it appears in the document! Another benefit of working with a glossary is speeding up the whole process. Thanks to a clear up-to-date lexicon, you no longer need to think about correct terms and definitions. High chances are it will significantly reduce the time needed to complete the project.
New beginnings always lead to a reflection on what is old and the decision to improve. Mondays are like a new start, moving in can be a kind of catharsis, because we clean the space and start with a “clean account” in a new place. What about the New Year? This is just an opportunity to start once again! It motivates us and gives us another chance to create a better version of ourselves.
That’s why we make New Year’s Resolutions – we promise to be better, to live healthier, to exercise more, to work harder. Months are passing by and many of these plans are forgotten.
Statistically, most of us stick to our New Year’s Resolutions for about three months. As early as in March we start to break them or even abandon them completely. So, is there anything we can do to make it different this year?
Sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions
Be precise but simple
It’s easier to abandon resolutions that are too general, vague or complicated. For instance, you can promise yourself you’ll eat less unhealthily, or spend less time on TV/social media. But exactly how much is “less”? How often can you indulge in grabbing a bite to eat from your fast food restaurant guilt-free? How much TV time would be “too much”? The same principle applies to all kind of resolutions: from improving your skills, taking up a new activity or spending time with your family.
If you want to prevent yourself from making excuses, it’s advisable to make a precise, specific promise, e.g. I will spend 1 hour daily doing xxx. In order to keep track and stay motivated, it’s a good practice to mark all the little successes in a calendar or journal.
Or at least write it down. Keeping your resolutions to ourselves might not be enough. If you share them with a friend, the decisions you make won’t be private anymore. That way, the pressure to live up to the expectations will be higher.
Some of our decisions might be very noble, but sticking to them might be too challenging or simply impossible in the course of the whole year. If you’re planning to “be nice to everyone”, “or never get angry anymore”, your chances of success are rather slim. It’s easy to promise yourself something like that in the spirit of New Year festivities, but there’s no way you can control your emotions all the time to that extent. Don’t promise yourself too much. Generally speaking, it’s better to set yourself a few small goals, instead of just a big one. It’s rather unlikely to “master a new language” within a year, but if you promise to learn bit by bit regularly, you will extend your knowledge by far by the end of the year. It’s also more realistic to stick to just one or two New Year’s Resolutions, instead of trying to do everything at once. Don’t demand too much from yourself at the very beginning, because you’ll be disappointed when you don’t see the effects.
Keep track of how it’s going.
You need to know whether you are standing still or if your efforts are bringing results. Try to write down every major step you make towards achieving your goal. By the end of the year you’ll be proud just looking at all the effort you took, and it will motivate you to keep up the good work. You can also think of some clever way to reward yourself each time you meet your goal. Perhaps treat yourself to something you enjoy doing?
Motivation is key
You need to know why you’re doing this and what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re finding it hard to stay motivated, look for inspiration. Sometimes the best source of motivation are people who have already achieved what you’re aiming for, or those who are striving for the same thing. Inspiration helps you get excited about your goals. And sometimes all you need is this extra power kick!
Don’t get discouraged
Don’t lose hope in moments of weakness. They will come for sure. There will be times when life will get in the way and you might not be able to meet your daily goal. That’s fine, provided it doesn’t happen too often. The important thing is not to forget the big picture. If you’re going to be too strict for yourself, chances are you’ll lose the enthusiasm and commitment. Guilt trips will only waste your time and energy taking you nowhere near your dreams.