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Time management tips for fulltime freelancing mums?
Thread poster: Nesrin

Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:42
English to Arabic
+ ...
Jan 12, 2007

Having followed the polls and forums here for some time, I can tell there are a lot of Prozians in my situation, so I thought it may be a good idea if we could share some tips and tricks on how best to manage your time as a fulltime freelance translator/mum.

To be honest, I don't have much tips and tricks to share, cause I admit I'm a miserable failure when it comes to time management.

Ideally, I would like to (not in order of importance):
1) Translate around 5 hours a day
2) Have a tidy house
3) Be able to put a warm meal on the table every day, for the whole family
4) Look at what my kids have done in school and help with homework (and in my particular situation, I or my husband try to give them half an hour of Arabic everyday, as they're not getting that in school)
5) Have some quality time with kids (incl. bathtime)
6) Have some quality time with hubby
7) Have some quality time for myself
8) Have a social life (well certainly not every day, maybe twice a month would be realistic)*

Right now, my schedule is a big mess. I tend to give priority to the translation job at hand, at the expense of the house, kids, husband and myself. Plus I have an internet addiction to get over.
I need to know how others in this situation organise their day, especially if they believe they're doing it successfully.

Thank you!!!


* Added later - and how could I forget point No.9: GET SOME SLEEP!!

[Edited at 2007-01-12 14:06]


Saskia Steur (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:42
English to Dutch
+ ...
sounds very familiar Jan 12, 2007

O boy, does that sound familiaricon_wink.gif

In my case I want to fit in a number 10 also: sports

We have three children, aged 10, 8 and 6 and I run a translation agency from home.

I've been running my translation agency for nearly five years now and this is how far I've got in terms in time management.

During weekdays I don't turn on my computers until the children are at school. That way I can manage getting up, getting dressed, having breakfast and taking the children to school in a focused and child-friendly manner. I also clear my kitchen before starting work.

I have organized things around the house in such a way that I am as little as distracted as possible:

- I keep laundry (and other houshold jobs) out of sight from my working environment. This means that when I'm working, I'm working and not tempted to fold some clothes, hoover the lounge, tidy up etc etc.

- Likewise, when I'm not working, I am not working. The door to my office is shut and I stick to my promise to myself to only check for e-mails during working hours every 30 minutes and pick up my business phone during working hours.

Having a separate phone line for my business is definitely a must.

I also do not pick up our home phone when I'm working. The people who need to contact me have my mobile number and my work number (teachers, my parents, husband). All others will have to waiticon_wink.gif

I jot down a list of things that MUST be done that day. I have learned through trial and error to only make REALISTIC LISTS, which results in a good feeling at the end of the day, because I am much more likely to achieve my goals that way.

I have three separate lists: one for Saskia the translator and one for Saskia the Mum, and one for Saskia herself.

Recently I am using a answering service. I can divert my calls to a telephone answering service, so my business calls are picked up and dealt with by a person, rather than an answering machine. This means I can do my shopping, go to the bank, see the doctor's, pick up the children etc. with a clear focus and without the stress of possible phonecalls etc.

All this doesn't buy me more time, but it does give me focus, as little as interruptions as possible and I am much happier this way.

I still do work a lot in the evenings, but I apply the same rules there, and I have noticed that sticking to my set of rules has made me more conscious of what I want to do. I don't waste as much time as I used to, but there still is room for improvement, so I am also very interested to learn about other translator's ideas and tricks!

Best regards,


Saskia Steur (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:42
English to Dutch
+ ...
o yes, and... Jan 12, 2007

o yes, and I no longer work between five and eight pm - it gives me a good break from working mode and gives me proper time to spend with the family and have a life, basicallyicon_wink.gif


Isabel Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:42
Italian to English
Sounds so familiar! Jan 12, 2007

I also moved the PC to the spare room so I have a dedicated "office" - when I was working in the living room I was tempted to sort out the mess around me! And the mess on the desk used to drive me crazy "after work".
Now when I've finished work, I close the office door and switch off.
I work 8am-4pm (school hours) and don't work weekends. This means I have to turn down jobs but hey - I chose to have a family !
Re housework, I have worked out a daily schedule so every room in the house gets done once a week and that takes me no more than an hour a day.
I'm new to jogging , so the latest challenge is to fit 3 training sessions a week. So far it's the cleaning that is suffering.


Gabi Ancarol (X)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
yes, sounds familiar and... Jan 12, 2007

the cleaning is always the one that suffers! icon_wink.gif


Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:42
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
kick the internet addiction Jan 12, 2007

It's scary how much time that sucks out of your life!


Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:42
German to English
+ ...
At the risk of offending... Jan 12, 2007

why are the meals and housecleaning solely the mom's job? (Maybe you didn't intend to make that impression, but that's what I read from your post.)

That was the obvious place, I thought, in your list to gain more time. If the whole family pitches in on meals and housecleaning, everyone will have more time for other pursuits. We share those duties in our house, except that my husband cleans more (I hate it) and I probably cook more. We both do laundry. We both shop for groceries and enlist the kids to help with cleaning the house.

I have found that making a grocery list for the week really helps. We plan staple breakfasts and lunches and then list 4-5 dinners for the week - usually stuff that takes no more than 1/2 hour to prepare, except on the weekend. It makes shopping quicker, and you'll know every night what's on the list for dinner.

Other than that, my list is basically the same as yours!


Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:42
English to Arabic
+ ...
Reply to your comments so far... Jan 12, 2007

- Saskia & Isabel: Thanks for some great tips, mainly the separate (realistic) to-do lists, the secluded working place, and the not-working between fixed hours - basically separating your work life from your personal life, both physically and time-wise. I think that's very important.

- Maria:icon_smile.gif Hear, hear!

- Elizabeth: You are absolutely right. I hate myself for being so hooked to the internet, and it does take up a lot of time. This afternoon I took a first step and actually switched the computer OFF for 2 hours (not on standby, not on hibernate), while I did some housework and cooking, so as not to be tempted to check the internet every few minutes. I was trembling throughout, but otherwise I was fine.icon_wink.gif

- Daina: No offense at all!icon_smile.gif The thing is, my husband works fulltime and comes home at 5:30, feeling exhausted, when the food has been cooked and the (very basic) cleaning has been done. But in the weekends - give credit where it's due - he very often does the cooking, especially when I have a deadline looming, and does a lot of DIY (which is definitely NOT my job!)


Isabel Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:42
Italian to English
Husbands! Jan 12, 2007

I know where you are coming from: my hubby leaves home at 7.45 and doesn't get in until 19.30/19.45, so I feel he does enough.


Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:42
German to English
+ ...
Can I quote you, Isabel? Jan 12, 2007

I work from between 8-9am to between 5-6pm (on tough days earlier/later), but still have to equally share in the housework - I think I need to show my husband this thread!icon_wink.gif

Of course, he is the cleanly one, and I'm the one who hates housework, so it's good practice for me to do it. I just recently downgraded dishwashing from "hate" to only "dislike" ...

About the Internet. I have that problem, too. Nasrin, I took up a hobby that occupies my hands (knitting) so that I can't always be on the computer. Of course, I do look up patterns online... But it did help with getting away from the computer after working hours. I figure I'm on enough during the day as it is. Ummm, like right now, posting in this thread...

[Edited at 2007-01-12 20:42]

[Edited at 2007-01-12 20:43]


Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:42
English to Turkish
+ ...
Moved the topic Jan 12, 2007

Hi Moms!

Why would our time management problem as freelancing moms be off-topic? I moved it, and marked it on-topic. No objections accepted!

Due to time mismanagement I cannot switch to the mom mode from mod mode right now, but will post later in this nice thread - thanks, Nesrin.

Best wishes...


Catherine Reay  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:42
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
make use of the internet addiction!! Jan 12, 2007


I have read all the replies with great interest as I need to improve my time management skills as we are expecting our second child in a few months time - I know the house will be the first to suffer!!

My "tips" are:

Get a cleaner - I have a great woman who comes in for 2 x 2hrs a week. That way the house stays clean and I just have to tidy and spruce it up a bit now and then!

Make use of the internet addiction - I shop at my local supermarket online. The ordering takes about 15 minutes from start to finish as my shopping list can be saved and then I just check it over each time adding and taking things away. When it arrives (usually the next day if I have placed the order before mid-afternoon) the guy brings it right up to the kitchen - supermarket policy doesn't allow me to help him with bags so I can start unpacking straight away. By the time I have to sign the delivery slip 3/4 is stored away. That process takes about ten minutes. (Fresh fruit and veg and meat from the local shops I consider part of socialising in the village - always good for catching up on the gossip!!)

I live on the coast in Spain where tourists outnumber residents from late spring until early autumn and a normal "in situ" supermarket shop can take anything from 1.5 to 2 hours. Online shopping makes life so much easier!!

Looking forward to hearing tips from others too.


Local time: 20:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
Tidying v. cleaning Jan 12, 2007

All family members, including spouse and kids, can be responsible for their own tidying up, which includes not cluttering or tracking in dirt, putting laundry in hamper not on the floor, helping set table and rinsing dishes in sink, etc. Actual cleaning, laundry and cooking (if you don't mind freezing batches) can be a family affair (they go fast with a team approach) once a week, and it is shared family time as well. You can teach older kids and spouse how, they can help supervise and teach younger ones.

This system works if you believe in it.


nruddy  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:42
German to English
I'd definitely recommend a cleaner... Jan 12, 2007

..if you can afford one. Having someone who will clean the house/flat once a week will lighten the load and help to avoid aggro!


Şadan Öz  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:42
English to Turkish
Internet addiction Jan 13, 2007

Internet addiction is a common problem to many freelancers, not only to mums.
As a man, I also feel its disruptive effect on my life.

I think that the only solution is to force another hobby/practice at home, such as leaving the computer and reading a book, painting, etc.
That's the only way to escape from the attraction of surfing and chatting on the Internet.

I know you have the most difficult profession of the world. Good luck all ladies.

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