As much as I enjoy being a freelance translator, I sometimes find switching off from thoughts of clients, word counts and terminology quite difficult after a long, hard day at the office. So to help you avoid sleepless nights due to thinking about work, I’ve decided to share the little tricks I use to distance myself from work when I’m done for the day. (This article is mainly aimed at those who are new to freelancing but, if you’re an experienced ball of stress, you’re also welcome to read on!).
1) Be organised. Write a To Do List each day and tick each task that you complete off as you go. I find this to be especially useful if my projects spans several days or more. For example, assign yourself 2000 words of a 6000 word project per day and make sure you get them done. Then reward yourself with a big tick! Simple but effective. If you feel like you’re on top of everything, it will be easier to turn your thoughts to You Time at the end of the day and you won’t feel the need to rush back to work to check things/send a quick email or just do another 100 words.
2) Turn your computer off at the end of your working day. You’ll never be able to relax if you know Trados and your text are still sitting there, ready to go. If you have another computer, use that in the evening for accessing the Internet, checking your Facebook, reading your emails and so on. If not, even if you have to turn your work computer back on later, turning it off when you’ve finished for the day is symbolic. Out of sight, out of mind.
3) If possible, get away from your work environment. If you have a separate office, get out of there! If, like me, you work in the living room, try to make sure that you establish separate work and “play” spaces. As my house is pretty small, I work at one end of the sofa during the day and watch TV/read/eat at the other end in the evening. A small move but it helps me distance myself from my work.
4) Get outside. To quote the musical Avenue Q, “There is life outside your apartment!”. Make arrangements to go out in the evenings. Your social life becomes that much more important when you don’t have colleagues in the traditional sense. Even if you don’t fancy a full-blown night out with friends, a nice walk at the end of day, even if it’s just to the local shop to buy something for dinner, some fresh air and the sun (or rain, where I am) on your face will do you the world of good!
5) Make it a general rule not to discuss work in the evenings . Phone a friend or family member for the low down on the outside world or get the office gossip from your partner. In my case, my husband also works at home so we discuss work as little as possible and Point 4 becomes particularly important. We tend to find a documentary we can watch together which both gives us something to talk about and takes our minds off work.
6) Keep a notepad and pen by the bed. I find this to be a great trick for emptying my head before I go to sleep. This way, if you are still thinking about work (or anything else, for that matter) at bedtime, you can quickly jot down any thoughts or reminders. Then, safe in the knowledge that you won’t have forgotten about them by the morning, you can put them out of your head and enjoy a good night’s sleep. A tired, cranky translator is no good to anyone!
A glass of wine and a hot bath are optional extras. :) If this spares you even one headache, I’ll be happy. Good luck.