How to achieve work-life balance

United Kingdom
Local time: 01:26
Member (2009)
French to English
Jun 18, 2010

I started my translation business a year ago. Business is starting to pick up, although not so much so that I feel I can be complacent. I have an Iphone and tend to look for jobs all the time. I find that I have long periods without work which I tend to spend panicking about getting work and feeling like I will never work again. Once I have done my admin and marketing I don't tend to do anything constructive with this time at all.

Then comes a mad rush of work where I find myself cancelling social activities to get finished. Quite often, I must admit, it's because I'm the kind of person who works to the deadline and procrastinates a little in the day time.

I really want to improve my work-life balance but I do need to accept whatever work comes my way for financial reasons. I would be grateful for any tips. I'm going to try to keep work to the working week as much as possible and cut down on procrastination. I also thought I might try an online writing course to keep me occupied during the lulls. Also, I'm not a sporty person but, given that this job involves a lot of sitting, I'd like to find away of being a bit more active. Any other thoughts?

Grateful for your advice.


Ivana Kahle  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:26
Member (2007)
German to Croatian
+ ...
Education Jun 18, 2010

You can always invest some time and/or money in additional education - try to get familiar with (another) CAT tool, attend a couple of webinars, download free demo versions of CAT tools, build your own TMs...
You might even want to organize a powwow and meet the ProZ-ians from your town/country in person!
Or you can focus on marketing - read a book or attend a seminar about marketing.
Or you can just go out for a walk (or attend a yoga class) - not thinking about your job can actually be very good for your job - our poor brains need time to relax from time to time - I had my best business ideas when I wasn't thinking about business at all.
Good luck!


Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:26
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Suggestion Jun 18, 2010

Another way to approach this problem is to work out how much you need/want to earn per month.

As soon as you hit this target you can relax a little for the rest of the month, either by turning down jobs you don't really want to do, or doing fewer jobs, or taking on jobs that have a generous delivery deadline.

It also means that once you've hit your target income for that month, you can work in a much more relaxed way, and probably producing better translations too !

Your target monthly income should be over-estimated to compensate for quiet months when you don't get enough work.

The sporty thing is very important. After a day spent sitting here translating I always get on my bike and do about 40 minutes of serious, energetic cycling. Does you good !

[Edited at 2010-06-18 10:41 GMT]


Helena Diaz del Real  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:26
German to Spanish
+ ...
A freelancer's fate Jun 18, 2010

Hello Ruth,

I think this is a freelancer's (not at all only a translator's!) fate.

If you work with only one customer, he will know how much work he can give you (meaning that if tuesday he gaves you 15.000 words for friday next week -as an example-, you are not available for other asignements until his own deadline).

But as a freelancer, you will most probably get many clients to work with. And one knows nothing from the other. So it will always happens (that's my own experience) that once you are one week without work and next week you are not able to handle with all the workflow you get -and must say no to some customers.

In my opinion, one of the most important matters for a freelancer is to learn what to do in the "freetime" and use it to do other things: Not only do your admin work and stuff, but also, perhaps, trying to gain other customers or just getting out with friends or simply do things you like and for which you won't have time when you get "overbooked" with so much work.

Well that's the way I think and I hope it helps you.

Good luck!


Shouguang Cao
Local time: 08:26
English to Chinese
+ ...
team up Jun 18, 2010

I have the same problem, Ruth! The panicking is unbearable especially when you only have one or two regular clients that have kept you busy and suddenly there is no work!

Teaming up with one or two translators you trust could be a solution. You can spare each other work when one receives a sudden rush of work so eventually both of you will have less lay-off time. You usually need your clients' approval for assigning the work to other translators.

Teaming up with colleagues is different from subcontracting. You do not make money out of it and stay honest to both your client and your colleague.

Last but not least, fight with procrastination and distraction!

[修改时间: 2010-06-18 17:12 GMT]


Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:26
German to Spanish
+ ...
How to achieve work-life balance Jun 18, 2010


I started my translation business a year ago .../...

After near four decades of experience in the translation world, I am afraid that there is no such thing as a balance between work and personal life. As self-employed workers we are always worried: If we aren't overburdened and worried to meet the deadlines, we are worried over the lack of work. The case is to learn to enjoy the playful side of this profession. Welcome to the toboggan and enjoy! icon_biggrin.gif

PS: procrastination, buhhh what ugliest word...!

[Editado a las 2010-06-18 22:03 GMT]


Pavel Janoušek  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 02:26
German to Czech
+ ...
How to achieve what? :-) Jun 23, 2010

Balance? Never heard of iticon_smile.gif

But seriously, thank you, Ivana, for suggesting this topic. It may not be one of the sessions/workshops in the main programme of the Prague conference, but we'll definitely discuss it as part of the networking (for those of you who are new to conferences: drinking coffee and talking to your colleagues during breaks, at the gala dinner and elsewhere).

So I hope that I can meet you in Prague and that we can give each other some useful tips!


[Upraveno: 2010-06-23 21:42 GMT]


Konstantin Kisin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:26
Member (2004)
Russian to English
+ ...
Relax and enjoy! Jun 24, 2010

A few years ago I used to worry during the quiet periods as well and the solution I discovered for myself was to get a smartphone which I can use to check my e-mails while being away from my desk. As soon as I knew that I wouldn't miss a job, I was immediately free to do almost anything else.

These days I actively look forward to and enjoy the quiet periods. I don't know what I would do without them! The trick is to have faith that work will come and make the most of the time you have to recharge your batteries and have funicon_wink.gif

While I know that lots of people place an emphasis on having more work all year round, my priority is to boost my productivity during the busy periods so that I can have as many quiet periods a year as possible while continuing to increase my income. This is where your mention of procrastination comes in. Imagine if you could double/triple your daily output by working without distraction and were then completely free to relax when the work isn't there?icon_smile.gif

My advice on procrastination is put it off for a bit...there's better things to be doingicon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2010-06-24 09:56 GMT]


United Kingdom
Local time: 01:26
Member (2009)
French to English
THANK YOU Jun 24, 2010

Thank you for all of these replies. They are very useful. Konstantin, I think yours is a very useful answer. I have an Iphone and couldn't live without it now. I think you're right: it's about having faith in getting more work. I have also started to come to a similar conclusion as you: cram it all in when it's on offer so that I can enjoy the times when it's not.


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