Working from home tips: How to WFH and not die trying

Working from home tips

Working from home and not die trying – DEFINITIVE GUIDE

Teleworking has exploded. While we understand why it is a necessity, it is not always easy. So here’s some working from home tips to better manage the situation and avoid many pitfalls.

Working from home – What is it?

Working from home tips: WFH (Working From Home) is a flexible way of organizing work. In other words, it is the performance of the professional activity of a worker without the need for physical presence in the company’s own offices or facilities.

In this case, the activity implies the use of new information and communication technologies that allow them to carry out their usual work from any location.

This modality can increase satisfaction and productivity, but it does not work in the same way for everyone. Therefore, it is important to give workers the option of choosing the modality of teleworking or face-to-face work.

But what is the current problem?

Measures to contain COVID-19 require working from home without prior notice and without drills. So it is important to follow a series of guidelines to maintain productivity and above all, maintain sanity.

Perhaps many of you are used to working this way, especially in the translation sector, this work methodology is very common. But even so, for many this situation is completely new and they do not know how to deal with it.

Working from home tips – Benefits for the Employee

Flexible schedule

The management of work and rest time according to your productivity levels allows you to organize yourself as you want to obtain a better work performance.

Geographic flexibility

Teleworking allows you to improve your workspace and choose the most suitable one for you. In this sense, there are many people who work better from home, or simply work from a different city. What is the important? Get to know yourself to know where you are most productive, have a computer and an Internet connection.

Saving time and money

We know that to work we have to move and in most cases this is a significant waste of time, time that we could dedicate to other aspects of our lives.

These trips, obviously, require an investment of money that we can save whether we use public transport as a private vehicle. The important thing is that your pocket, your health and the environment will thank you.

Work and family conciliation

With the aforementioned time savings, you can afford to spend that time in your family environment.

Greater autonomy

It is probably the most obvious advantage, since the autonomy and participation of workers in decision-making drive innovation, empowerment and work performance.

Working from home tips – Benefits for the Company

Increased productivity

If you implement work from home in conjunction with a new goal-tracking policy, surely workers will meet them in a much more efficient way. They are the ones who manage their time and know when they are most productive.

Saving Money

For the company, this type of work allows savings in costs, space and furniture.

Increased satisfaction

It is clear that working from home has many benefits for employees that reinforce their motivation and commitment. This is a great reason why the degree of satisfaction of the contractual conditions increases, while improving the commitment and valuation of the company.

Reduction in Absenteeism

It is logical that even if you work from home, you have to meet objectives, so teleworking allows you to regulate your time and as it gives you that flexibility.

Technological innovation

Unfortunately, not all companies or sectors can afford working from home either by investment or by the type of activity they carry out.

To implement it, it is important that the company adopts technological innovations. Good communication channels with the rest of the team, equipment and Internet connection are necessary.

Greater Reach to Professionals

Have greater access to professionals who, initially for personal or work reasons, cannot travel to their office but can work from home. This option offers the Human Resources Department a greater range of professionals within reach.

Working from home tips – Keys to Approach Teleworking and Not Die Trying

Overnight telecommuting has become a challenge for many of us. But what is the real challenge?

The ideal place for working from home is a special room in your house. You can use an outdoor office with natural light, a desk with all the organized and necessary material and an ergonomic chair that protects your back.

You might think that your home does not have a room that enables to work from home when you can adapt to this situation.

Your goal will be to scratch square metres from anywhere, be it a terrace or a hallway. The question is to prepare a place of approximately two metres by two metres, the ideal and standard measure necessary for teleworking.

What are the determining factors when choosing your workspace?

The lighting will be the determining factor while a challenge because in most cases it is difficult to find a space with natural light.

The natural light favours productivity. The recommendation is that the space must be oriented north to have a balanced light and thus avoid reflections.

As for the furniture, you have to be just as strict. In the end, you will spend eight hours in a chair so it is important to take care of your back and your cervical.

Choose an approved ergonomic chair that allows certain regulations to adapt to your height and inclination. You have no such chair? Don’t worry. The first days you can settle for any chair that is available in your home, but it won’t take long for you to have muscle aches. So, you can already anticipate these ailments and order a suitable chair for this situation.

No less important is the work table, which is recommended to have a height of approximately 80 centimetres and a length depending on the space and the use you give it.

You like glass tables, right? It is also an incredible decorative element for us, but for working from home it is not good since shiny materials reflect and can cause unnecessary glare.

Some of you will believe that you have already finished conditioning your workspace but you are missing some key elements that are not usually taken into account. Customizing your workplace is important to feel that you are part of it and to give it a touch of warmth, but how?

A simple plant, photo frame or a board with memories placed in a strategic place that does not get in the way and that provides a bit of freedom and warmth will make your workday a little more bearable.

The order of everything that makes up your space can help you overcome all those psychological effects of confinement. It is more than proven that disorder negatively influences performance and mood with which we face work.

An orderly workspace is an orderly mind.

Now if you have an incredible workspace to telecommute!

Maintaining productivity without going to the office or production centre cannot be improvized. It sounds like a cliché, but if we don’t establish a routine we won’t know how to organize our time.

Many of you believe that you can telecommute without first establishing a clear and concise routine. It may be somewhat easier for those who already have experience working from home but the inexperienced or newbie will have the feeling of being on vacation or on a day off. Error!

Since there is no one to “watch”, for many, time management can be a difficult task to control, so the important thing is to set strict schedules and habits just as you would in the office.

It is clear that the flexibility that working from home offers you is much greater and there is no fixed pattern to follow to establish a routine and schedules since it depends on the type of work, personalities and circumstances of each one.

Growing up is establishing routine as a healthy habit.

The ideal is to start studying the spaces of time:

  • Schedule to start and end the working day. Working from home does not mean being available 24 hours a day.
  • The hours in which you will have more silence and solitude to be able to carry out those tasks that require more concentration.
  • The most productive moment of the day adapted to the normal schedule of the company.
  • The ideal times for videoconferences or virtual meetings.
  • The hours that we will dedicate to more dynamic tasks such as answering calls or answering emails.
  • The pause times to take breaks.

In order to make the established routine a healthy habit, you should set daily and weekly goals according to the project you are currently on. Remember that the achievement of these objectives and the achievement of success depends on your work being properly executed.

Another one of those working from home tips: Let’s be honest, we know that the biggest benefit of working from home is that we can do it in our pyjamas. It is difficult to get rid of this comfortable garment while at home so we have to take advantage of these circumstances to put on more formal and comfortable clothes.

According to experts, if you are able to follow the routine of taking a shower, having breakfast and putting on comfortable clothes, you will feel much more agile and receptive to approach the workday successfully.

Be careful, it is not about dressing in tight jeans, a suit jacket or a dress to work from home. It consists of choosing a style to adapt it every day, that is, if in the end you choose a very comfortable and elegant set such as a sweatshirt and leggings, do not make it your work uniform because not every day is the same, and the way in which we dress can help us approach the day with energy and positivity.

Face the day by telling your mind and body that you are working.

Dressing professionally makes us adopt a different mental state to feel more present and increase our level of dedication and commitment.

  • Look for comfortable looks

The ‘comfy’ sets are in fashion so do not hesitate to use these wonderful garments combining them with other more sophisticated garments to have a total office look.

  • Footwear is important

You’re at home, why wear shoes? You might think you can put any type of shoe if you are going to be at home. It turns out that if you only use specific shoes (sleepers!), they will take over you in such a way that, you will constantly have the feeling of ‘being thrown’ even if you are properly groomed and dressed.

  • Comb your hair

Are you one of those who don’t even look in the mirror when they telecommute?

Indeed there is a multitude of quick hairstyles with which you look favoured without falling into the trap of neglecting this aspect with the crazy hair of just raised.

  • Get dressed up for meetings

If you do not leave home, what better way to take advantage of virtual meetings or conferences to fix them a little more and thus, embroider it.

Video hookups are proven to help form relationships, and if you’re not dressed appropriately, you could be sending the wrong message.

  • Brings a little colour

There are many days when you wake up with discouragement and negativity, so a good colourful garment will make you see the day from another perspective.

  • Care for your skin

It is useless if we take care of our entire appearance if we do not take into account our skin. Many of us do not have terraces or balconies so that the sun can give us a little vitamin D, so it is important to take care of your skin from day one.

Establish a facial care routine if you haven’t done it before, or improve it if you already did. For those women who use makeup, it may be time to let your skin breathe and use only a basic and fluid makeup.

  • Forget about the fridge!

The gastronomic offer at home is too wide so, stop there! Establish schedules to get up to peck and not run the risk of constantly losing focus. Along the same lines, your daily meal schedule must be the same to know how to organize and plan your workday based on the fixed breaks that you have established.

  • Be responsible and do your daily work!

The current pandemic situation forces French companies to implement working from home. Thanks to broadband connections and new technologies, teleworking has become a common practice in many companies. But many people cannot do this type of work due to the high investment it entails or due to the type of activity. Discipline, discipline!

Make technological resources become your greatest ally.

The point is that not all existing companies are prepared nor are many. This depends on your business culture.

Beyond the usual telephone and email resources, those instant messaging and videoconferencing services in practice are very useful to establish daily or weekly meetings as if they were face-to-face.

What are the aspects to take into account?

Technological means

Without a device available on which to carry out your professional activity, working from home will not make sense. In no case, this situation will force employees to have to put the necessary technological resources out of their own pockets.

If employees do not have the necessary technological means, it should be the company that offers solutions.

Connected to a network

Working from home tips: Teleworking implies carrying out your work activity via an Internet connection. Therefore, cybersecurity is a crucial element. It is clear that cybercriminals will take advantage of this high volume situation of connected people to steal confidential information and impersonate identities.

Large companies that are used to this way of working know the protocols and encrypt their connections to avoid these events.

It is not a question of large, medium or small companies, but a global question that each and every businessperson must apply to ensure that all information is protected.

If you are reading this, it is surely your case and you want some indications to help you cope.

The harsh reality is that you have to arm yourself with patience, be organized and enhance the capacity for abstraction because you will have many moments of great frustration, anxiety and overwhelm.

Working from home tips: Working with your little ones

Sleeping hours

Another one of those working from home tips: It is important that the company you work for knows what your working conditions are, so the threshold of demand for your work activity be adapted to your situation.

We know that there are so many very repetitive tips on how to work from home that perhaps with little monsters hanging around the house are not feasible. Therefore, we know that there are no infallible solutions or correct answers that will help you better cope with this situation, but you can adapt these working from home tips to optimize your time and entertain your children.

Planning the workday and establishing a work routine seems like an easy task when you are not in charge of children who need constant attention.

When you have these little ones hanging around all the corners of the house and wanting to capture your attention, you understand that they are the ones who will set your schedules. Therefore, the best way to be productive and advance at work is to take advantage of those hours of the day when the little ones are relaxed. When we talk about these moments, we refer to the first hours of the day, at noon and at night because they coincide with their hours of sleep.

Perform physical exercise

Your main mission will be to tire them and an infallible way, knowing that children have tireless vitality and energy, is physical exercise.

Establish a routine adapted to the age of your children in which the whole family is involved to unite and make you disconnect. Physical exercise will compensate for passive entertainment to control the characteristic agitation of children.

Develop long-lasting activities

If you have children, you will know how intense they are because they demand constant attention and this, on many occasions, is a complicated task.

One of the solutions that works the most is to put your creativity and imagination to work to send your children long-lasting activities that they can do individually.

In this sense, there are many interactive games, online courses and others that help improve your children’s skills and help you get extra time to dedicate to your workday.

Do homework together

One of the things schools have done well is to put a significant burden of homework on children.

Homework time is a time that requires silence and attention, so while doing school work, we can take care of those professional tasks that do not require great concentration.

You will wonder why it is better to perform professional tasks that do not require great attention and the answer is that although they have tasks that they must carry out on their own, they have many doubts and you should try to solve them at the moment.

 Assign them responsibilities

How many times have we told our parents that we are bored and they made us clean our room?

You might think that it is a way to exploit them and that they carry out your own tasks, but for them it will be a way to feel useful and combat boredom with it.

Assigning them daily household chores like cleaning, cooking or tidying the house will make them feel older and responsible. It is not only about developing general tasks, but about learning to be independent and for them to start making their bed, making breakfast, getting dressed, etc.

Working from home tips – Conclusion

With the explosion of the information superhighways and the Internet, and the COVID situation, working from home has become a full-fledged job, highly appreciated by companies as well as employees or self-employed workers. Overall, teleworking presents a positive result, because if we look at it objectively, many of the advantages are major points for each of the stakeholders concerned. For the organization, the fact of increasing productivity is a direction to focus on. For the employee, the arguments are also strong. In fact, it is by establishing its objectives and priorities that the organization can determine whether teleworking is beneficial or not. Same for the employee!

Accounting Manager – Should you be one as well as a translator?

accounting manager for your translation business

As an accounting manager /administrator and/or bookeeper for your business, how much time do you spend on your accounting routine? As a freelancer, without a team to do this for you, have you ever stopped to think about the time you spend organizing your finances?

As an accounting manager for your business, still using an Excel sheet?

Currently, whenever people come to me asking me for a finance tip and I start asking about their financial routine, I always get the following answers: As an accounting manager for my translation business, I have an Excel spreadsheet (which I barely fill out) or do paper checks (notepad, Post-it, desktop). And there is never, ever, financial planning in the short or medium term in my accounting managerial activity. In other words, they don’t know if they can parcel out a new computer, for example, for the simple fact that they do not know what their turnover is (just an approximate idea, according to the volume of work).

Be in Control of Your Finance

I don’t know about you, but as an accounting manager for my translation business, this lack of information is not for me: I need to be in control of my money all the time. How much, in cash, I am making at the moment (but I have not yet charged), how much I am to receive and, finally, how much I have already received and information I must send to my professional accounting manage. But it is not possible to waste time with this information, nor to produce and collect it. You, like me, as a freelancer, know that our most valuable tool is TIME. And if we spend our time organizing ourselves (albeit effectively), we don’t produce – and consequently – we don’t make money.

Accounting managerial skills at work

Recently, I had an experience working with my financial management app that, honestly, proved to be valuable in gaining the skills I always recommend to other people – Organization, discipline and attention to finance, as well as my translations.

A customer happened to contact me asking to review the amounts he had already paid, as he believed he was paying me in duplicate. Of course, anyone can say that it doesn’t take much discipline to resolve this, just go to your online banking and take a copy of your statement. Yes and no. If you do that, you have to remember (and I am terrible at remembering anything) when the customer paid you or, as I said before, you will waste time doing this check. And that was the big problem! I accessed my accounting software and had two exact invoices paid, one due and the other for the following month. In 30 seconds, I had all the necessary information, I passed it on to my client and the problem was solved. Now he knows what amount he owes me and what he had already paid (none in duplicate). What’s what a good accounting manager should be able to do.

By returning with the information in 30 seconds (which, in any other way, I would take at least 1 hour), I saved my time (continuing to dedicate myself to translating during the day), avoided mistakes (because the information there was correct) and I avoided stress (both for me and my client).

And if it didn’t take me long to collect this information, even less I would have spent to produce it. For efficient control, whatever the method, discipline is the only way. So, whenever a new project arrives, I launch it on my accounting managerial tool as soon as I receive the client’s acceptance.

Good Accounting Managerial Skills Are Good for Your Stress Level

It is a calming factor for me, and for my stress level, as an accounting manager for my translation business, to know where the money is. So, in times of despair, when I think I’m ‘going bankrupt’, I open my accounting tool and see all the data straight away.

That is why financial control is so important, especially when we are CEO, head of accounting, coffee barista and janitor of our company. We cannot delegate these tasks, except to ourselves. And in a busy routine, as I know, yours is, you can’t waste time on inefficient accounting management.

It is very important, then, that you coldly analyse your financial control: as an accounting manager for your translation business, does it meet all your needs, both in information management and time management? Because if it doesn’t meet one of these requirements, now it may be the ideal time for you to change and do differently in 2020, adding time to your day to day, to be able to dedicate yourself to what really matters: your translation business.

I decided to change years ago and drop Excel for an accounting managerial tool call Wave Accounting: This tool is an online tool, and contains all my accounting managerial information so that I am now more organized financially in 2020. I strongly recommend it!

Translator Productivity – Why haven’t you taken care of this yet?

translator's productivity - a man sleeping

What is your Translator Productivity IQ?

Let’s talk a bit about translator productivity, organisation and quality of life.

You have a small translation job that, from your experience, should not take more than 2 hours, with a 5 day deadline. When would you start the project?

I’ll start right away unless….

If your answer is: “Right away. However, I will stop whenever there is a message notification on Facebook or I get a text message. After all, there is still plenty of time OR I know the subject by heart. Anyway, I have no reason to worry.”

If this is your answer. You’re not alone.

Got plenty of time, right?

If your answer was: “On the morning of the deadline, I open the file and start translating. I do not want to deliver the project to the customer too soon in advance. Translation is not like Domino Pizza. The customer will not value my work if I deliver too fast. And they’ll think it was too easy to do.”

Well, you’d be surprised to know that many translators and other freelancers think just like that. Again, you’re not alone. Anyway, keep reading, it’s getting interesting.

I’ll Start Translating Immediately and Deliver ASAP

You answered that you would start the translation immediately and deliver the very same day? Then you are part of a very disciplined minority. Yet, even though you are in that category, keep on reading – I have some tips for you too.

Why do we procrastinate? You know you have something to do. You know you have a deadline. You have a rough idea of ​​how long the translation project will take. Yet, you’ll assume a casual attitude. You’re calm. “It’s all right, I have everything under control”. And the reason for this is simple: you do not have an organised routine and you often lose focus.

Having an Organised Routine Is Crucial

As a matter of fact, having an organised routine is crucial so that you are in control not only of your work, but of your time. I know, I know. You already knew that.

The problem is to put the organisation into practice, to get used to having a calendar (and to use it!). To have a strategy in place so as to set priorities and even to decide what does not need your attention and should be left behind. Because yes, there are things you can stop doing, which will not have a negative impact on your life.

During my 25+ year as a freelance translator, I had to learn how to organise myself in order to respond to my customers’ requests, the inherent needs of our work, how to prospect new clients, keep up to date and, above all, pay attention to friends and family.

Yet, I admit it is not easy to organise and keep my focus, but it is less difficult than you can imagine.

Getting organised is a learning process

Something very important that you need to know: no one gets organised from day one, or by just reading about it or just taking a course. Organisation is learning and building habits. It is a slow process, but always subject to improvement. The definition I like best, taken from some of the many books and articles I have read, is: organisation is a process of reduction and selection. You reduce the number of events that really need your attention and select the ones that should get your attention first. There are many tools to help you with this process. Here are some tips for anyone who wants to start getting organised. Simple but very efficient tips.

Find Out Where Your Time’s Wasting

The first is: find out what you spend your time on. You will certainly be surprised to find that you waste a lot of your time in front of your computer with things that are not part of your work routine. You can do this with paper and pen or install some software that captures which programmes, websites and other activities are performed on the computer and for how long. If you use Mac, my suggestion is timing. For PC, Toggl is a good option. Install one of these tools on your computer and use it for a week.

You will probably find that social networks, messengers, and emails are the most time-consuming villains that steal time from professional freelancers. You may be thinking: but I need to “take some time off a little” to be more productive, have an escape valve… The problem is that this valve needs to be well regulated and should only be open at the right times. In my case, the ideal is when this valve is somewhere else, away from my computer. A walk, a conversation with some friends, a series on TV. Anything that makes you get up from your chair and move around can improve not only your translator productivity but also your health.

Set Your Priorities Right

The second tip is about setting priorities. One of the most basic and practical tools for those who want to organise themselves is the Eisenhower Matrix. Credited to the general and former US President Dwight Eisenhower, who needed to make quick decisions during World War II, this tool will help you define where to put your efforts, what to delegate, what to schedule and what not to do next. Click on the previous link to find out how to use this tool or start organising your work day.

Set Up a Workflow

Another way to organise yourself is to develop workflows. Document the sequence of steps you perform to work efficiently in a list. Even for those jobs you’re doing with your eyes closed, writing a workflow can help you realise where you are wasting time and what could improve. In addition, you may also find out an opportunity to automate something in your process. Don’t forget: your computer should work for you, not the other way around.

Get Some Sleep for Crying out loud

A very important tip I ignored for a long time: sleep well. It is almost impossible to stay focused and be organised if you do not give your brain the rest it needs.

Develop a routine to relax and recuperate for the next day. Always sleeping at the same time makes your body better prepared and makes it easier to go to sleep. What I did when I started to implement this routine was, I used the alarm clock in reverse: I would set up my phone to trigger an alarm at 10:30 p.m. As soon as the alarm would trigger, I was getting ready to go to sleep. It did not take long for this to become my routine. Of course, as they say out there: there’s an app for that! And you can use them to monitor and better understand your sleep. I currently use Sleep as Android, which offers 14 days of free trial.

To conclude, 3 quick tips for you:

  • Emails are very important, but they can also consume a lot of your time. To stay focused, turn off notifications and set a specific time to deal with them. As for emails that you need to respond to quickly, create notifications using filters.
  • If you Gmail, learn how to use filters.
  • Find what kind of music improves your translator productivity. I use Focus@will, which uses neuroscience and really works for me.

In conclusion, there are many tools and methods that promise to improve your translator productivity and organisation. There is no one method that works for everyone and you may find that one works well for you while another does not The ideal is to test and find out what works for you.

After all, organisation and productivity are a personal thing.

A day in the life of a translator – Of course, I am in control

Plan Your translation project if you don't want to end up in the loony bin

Recent experiences as a translator have led me to reassess my performance in terms of productivity when faced with long translation projects. I noticed that I like to dive straight into every new translating project and, like the vast majority of what I do, I go hard at it for the most part of 3 or 4 days. My productivity is then very high. But on any project that extends more than 2 or 3 weeks, I start to get bored or interested in other activities.

Facing the problem of a big translation project

I’ve translated a few long documents recently and invariably my productivity is sky high in the first 3 or 4 days, while I get the impression that I’m going to end well before the deadline.

So I relax, start accepting other smaller translation projects. Suddenly, I’m into low productivity until finally realising that with the remaining time, it seems like it will be almost impossible for me to complete everything.

Luckily, I panic about delaying the delivery of the translation, so this always saves me.

So in a matter of two weeks, I output everything I have not produced in two months.

Happy ending, but I finish exhausted.

After some 4 or 5 recent experiences like this, I spent a year fulfilling my promise to myself that I would not face long projects any longer.

Until a good customer of mine offered me an interesting project, and then I needed to rethink my productivity and the way I work my translation projects.

Planning your translation project

And this is what works for me:

What I recommend for anyone who has ever seen panic weekends is: be pessimistic. Just because you produced 5,000 words on a great day does not mean you can keep that average for a month. I always do my best to negotiate comfortable deadlines, and in the case of my last big translation project, the secret was to establish and meet a relatively low average, which I could accomplish in half a day’s work, but with constancy. Even though I spent almost two weeks in the project, every day, I would open a worksheet I created and mark another business day, monitoring the average number of words that I would have to output, which was still viable without ending up being committing to the Loony Bin.

If necessary, weekends can be used to increase the average without increasing a working day.

Also, don’t forget that it takes time to review your work. I like to review slowly, not everything at once in the end. You can choose to review on the weekends or just at the end of the project. In this case, I suggest that you calculate a smaller number of business days for the translation, leaving a certain number of days for review only.

In short: plan yourself well and try to be consistent. Leave the adrenaline to the amusement park.

A Translator’s Life: The Edge of Reason

procrastinating with facebook

Motivation vs. Procrastination in the Life of a Translator

In recent months, many things that I have done and seen have made me think on productivity. What motivates and what hinders our work routine, and how all this reflects in our image and our professional success as translators. Today, I will gather some thoughts and information on this.

From translating an inspirational book

Recently, I completed the translation of a booklet about self-help for a customer, which had a great impact on me (Cannot give you its title at this stage as it is waiting for publication).

I loved doing this translation, with which I also learned a lot.

Small, with tiny chapters, written in simple and direct language, permeated with illustrations, it is intended for businessmen or people who wish to start a business, or maybe not even that. Yet, this one is very different from any other kind of self-help business books out there. It demystifies many notions about business we hear. yet, always with a lot of common sense and almost excessive frankness. Virtually all the topics covered in the book can be applied to freelancers as well, especially to translators who have a business. I’ve found myself reflected in many chapters – or saw my past, my background, past jobs, colleagues. Even in typical day-to-day situations in an office, which have nothing to do with me, I saw relatives and friends there.

To Gaining Valuable Insights Into My Translation Business

There are valuable insights on preparing and launching new ventures, outreach, business concepts, use of technology, distance co-operation, competition, and much about productivity and motivation. I do not want to give away too much here, but a lot of things stuck with me. Not everything is new, but said in such an eloquent way, with great real examples. The text ends up reinforcing what people in the background already know, besides giving us some well-deserved slaps in the face. For example:

— Everything you do, say, write, every phone call, every invoice, every email – everything – is marketing.

— Being a workaholic, turning nights and weekends, sleeping little and eating badly, and still being proud of it, ultimately is being incompetent, disorganised, clumsy. Working a lot has nothing to do with working well.

— Having brilliant ideas or making big plans is no merit; What really makes the difference is in actually realising a succession of little good ideas every day.

— Current interaction tools have revalued writing – emails, text messages, websites, blogs. Communication should be efficient, clear, informative. Writing well is the fruit of the clarity and organisation of thoughts; therefore, when recruiting partners, give preference to those who write well.

— Want to be immune to competition? Make your product your own, something that only you can do, your way of being, something inimitable. Not just the result of your work, but the whole experience of working with you. (Another that applies even more to translators, as opposed to entrepreneurs from other areas.)

— To excel and have a differential, share and teach. The more people want to do what you do, the way you do, the more you establish yourself as a leader.

— Our great enemy is interruption. We only surrender when we can work for a while without any kind of interruption, so you have to schedule work periods like this.

— What drive productivity is motivation, and this is the result of many factors, including a favourable environment, attainable goals and small daily successes – more on this issue next.

— And much, much more.

How people procrastinate

More motivation to be a better translator

Also recently, I attended a convention for small entrepreneurs. I confess that at first I did not give it much credit – such a public thing, for free… What do I know, right? But it was exceptional. Great lectures, beginning with one of Google’s directors in Australia, and with many panels on digital media, marketing and business tools, etc. In a hall filled with computers, volunteers helped those who wanted to learn and open accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn and other networking sites. At the end of the day, I left full energy to improve my productivity, choose better customers, and make more productive partnerships.

And I cannot say why, but I have the impression that only this motivation, this desire to be effective, to reinforce the things that I clearly have been doing right and to correct what is not, already generates positive results. I think that just setting certain priorities or having clearer headings already translates into productivity – and effectiveness. And productivity translates into praise, better services, more money, more time to do what we like, and all this produces more motivation, of course.

Speaking of motivation, I discovered today, through a Twitter link, this beautifully illustrated lecture on the results of a research on motivation – what kind of reward yields good results, makes us win challenges. In a TED Talk, Dan Ariely does not say anything that we do not already know, but watching and reading him filled me with enthusiasm.

Professional Satisfaction as a Translator

I have seen dilemmas, debates and experiences about unattractive professional choices with huge monetary compensation versus choices that give more personal and professional satisfaction with little financial return. And increasingly I am an unconditional partisan of the second option. Because in the long run, a job that generates a good dose of motivation, which is a priority, that makes sense, inevitably generates financial return as well – and from a certain point, a higher financial return alone does not increase the motivation, quite the opposite.

There is also a crucial difference in the different positions I see in aspiring translators – for example, in the numerous emails I receive from beginners in translation asking for all kinds of opinions, advice or help.

Benefits of being a translator

There are people who, before even trying to translate something, soon show that they are anxious to know how much they will earn. It has to be a lot. It has to be now. In general, these same people want to know which areas are easy to get into, requires a small amount of customer service and guaranteed high salary. It is not uncommon to hear some well-publicised myths out there, such as those sworn translators who earn abysmal sums of money each month translating some nonsense driver’s licence.

Yes, of course! Gee, that must be why so many of my colleagues and my fellow sworn translators live on yachts, and only I have not realised that yet.

The Real Winners of the Translation Industry

The fact of the matter is that – almost always – those who have this type of concern when planning their career are not the ones who will spend half an hour immersed in dictionaries trying to get the perfect translation for an expression. Nor would they usually “waste time” studying in depth, or begin their translation career willing to translate for very little money in the beginning. It is not by chance that these “translators” are not the ones who tend to achieve the kind of professional success they were hoping to get.

Others want to perfect themselves. They want to study more, read more, do more exercises, want you to recommend other courses. There is a passion behind what they do, as well as the relentless pursuit of technical improvement – which is a lot duller and less exciting than the “passion for languages.” I often keep in touch with these people, and I am happy to see how successful they are in the profession. They are great colleagues. And the interesting thing is that they are often surprised, think they were lucky or do not think they work too much.

After 25 years of experience as a translator, now that I have a different perspective, the difference is very clear. People like that are a minority, yes, and they succeed because they have the motivation driven by the right priorities, which lead them to make no effort to improve. They embark on the profession aiming to be excellent professionals throughout their lives, not aiming for a cash-filled savings and early retirement. The difference between these values ​​is huge.

The Worst Enemy of the Translator

To conclude, let me talk about our worst enemy: procrastination. Who does not suffer from that throws me the first stone. We have to be connected all day, easy to be found by clients and colleagues, attentive. Emails need to be answered quickly. We need to be aware of the latest news and debates. Help someone to solve a problem on Facebook. Watching a photo album of our latest trip or someone laughing at a bad translation in a video on YouTube … 1h45 later, you wonder why you are still watching this new episode of the Game of thrones.

Not to mention that Monday morning, when you take a deep breath and open the directory of the next 35-page review of a text on IT, and suddenly that’s the ideal time to mow the lawn (Or update the blog…)

Sometimes, procrastination is more blatant. Sometimes, it is camouflaged as research or confused with coffee time. Anyway, if we’re honest, we all know that we don’t roll up our sleeves more than we should, that we often lose control over the time of rest. Then the blame hits and we work until 3 o’clock in the morning, we skip meals. And when we see it, we fall into the vicious cycle of inefficient workaholism, which can end up compromising quality.

Applying These Reflections to the World of Translation

It was just when I was thinking about these subjects that I came across this article, about the evolutionary, neurological and behavioural reasons behind procrastination, and why it seems to sabotage us in such effective ways. It brings some clues to cheating our own brains, or at least not letting ourselves be fooled. Another read is worth very much.

This text quotes Dan Ariely, a scholar of human behaviours associated with economics who has given excellent lectures in TED. On his site there are links to podcasts he has done on the various chapters. I still do not know how to relate all this to the universe of translation, but all this discussion has attracted me immensely and I feel it will still bring me something useful – even if it is good reflections and reading recommendations.

Now, to work!