creativity · diversification · freelance translation · freelancing · side projects · time management

6. Diversification is optional

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Alphonse Mucha

 

Lessons in freelance translation, n.6

The new year started well. Which translates to… feeling grateful, blessed and tired.

If you have been freelancing for some time and have had to cope with overlapping deadlines and a lot of hours of work from day till late at night, then you know that time is money. Time is a lot more than that.

You need time not just to work. You need time to think. Even if you eventually find out that thinking while working works best. But that is just my opinion. And you need time to figure out how to best diversify your business. What if my clients stop sending me work? What if Italy cuts back on imports to Greece? So far so good but what about tomorrow? However, diversification is also a personal desire. Even if I had the absolute certainty that I would be always as busy as I was recently, I would still do other things.

And by working on side projects (inadvertently trying to find the best diversification path), I have come to the following six conclusions.

Here they are.

6 THINGS TO CONSIDER ON THE ROAD TO DIVERSIFICATION

1. UNDERSTAND yourself better. This is the toughest part. Sometimes I think I figured it all out and then I am back to square one. What you are really good at?

2. BE REALISTIC. You might be dreaming of becoming a public speaker at local and international events but if you do not have the time for basic everyday things because you have small kids, then you should be more flexible and find the right thing for the circumstances you are in.

3. BE PASSIONATE. Being realistic is not enough. Your side projects – a way to diversify – need to reflect what you have in your psyche. What is it that could make you happy both professionally and personally? You need to constantly work on your side projects regardless of the little time you can allocate to it. To be able to do that, it has to be something that makes your heart sing.

4. THE SITE (not side) THEORY. I got you now. I am getting into the deep waters of my theory now. Not having my own site has really helped me do some serious thinking about where I am and where I want to be. I am still not there yet completely but some improvements have been made. This is how this theory works: If you were to create a website for your business, how would you name it? What tagline would you have? What pages would you like to see? What clients would you want to attract? I have done this “exercise” a few times and have even deleted a site I started creating. Then I created it again from scratch and the pages I have there now are getting close to what I would like my business to be in the near future. The site is not up yet and I do not even know what is going to happen with it but I am trying to learn from this.

5. BE FREE. You do not need to follow someone else’s footsteps. You do things because it is natural for you. If you are busy enough translating, why worry, why diversify? Yes, I know. It’s your heart’s desire. In that case, yes, go for it. Work while on the bus. I always take notes on the bus. I started taking notes for a writing project at the playground. Nobody got hurt. 🙂

6. TEST NEW WATERS. The other day I inquired about writing an article for a publication. I am glad I approached them. I realised I needed to do more than just blogging. If you see an opportunity, try and check it out. A slot of 5 minutes you create today could mean something bigger tomorrow.

That is all. For now.

M.

freelancing · productivity · time management · translation · work

Coffee drinking trick for better productivity

A quick tip!

Make your day longer by doing this: After lunch, wash your dishes. A clean sink is good for your health especially if you are a parent so that when your kid comes back from school and before you prepare dinner, you will be feeling relieved to have a clean sink. However, if you are on a tight deadline you can skip the dishes and… proceed to coffee, preferably espresso.

Pour your coffee in your favourite cup and drink. Go take a NAP for at least 20 minutes. You can sleep longer (try not to overdo it the way I sometimes do) but the point of doing this is to sleep for the duration of the time caffeine starts having effect.

Read this article here for more info (I have known about this technique for a few years, quickly googled it and this article cropped up – it’s from 4 days ago, so go read it).

Magda

freelance translation · freelancing · time management · translation

4. Treat freelance work as (almost) urgent even if it’s not

 

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Lessons in freelance translation, n. 4

A couple of weeks ago, I was working on two different translations with – luckily – quite reasonable deadlines when client #1 emails me at 12.00 one day prior to delivery to say that she needed the translation within half an hour.

Whereas delivery day was the day after.

For a moment, I had no idea of how to react, what to think.

Within half an hour?

And it’s as if I knew. I had almost finished translation #1 because I treated it as urgent. I don’t normally do it but on that occasion I did. It was a fairly easy translation and even if I had almost one week to do it, I started working on it the moment I received instructions. Which was a wise choice because when translation #2 came in, I didn’t panic.

I know that this may sound as a pretty conventional advice and that translators with many years of experience would consider this tactic as “it goes without saying” but I felt the need to mention it here.

Of course, treating all translations as urgent isn’t always possible. We are only human. It would be perfect if we could always translate without being super-stressed because of the deadlines we have but this is the nature of our job and I have found this tactic to be a good one.

Time management should also be about following a specific work pattern that takes into account all the things than can potentially occur throughout the day.

And I’m not only talking about translation projects but other things too. So much can happen. Administration stuff, phone calls, emails. We could catch ourselves completely off guard, not knowing what to do first. Which translates to a bit of a chaos.

But what if we were “saving” time by acting faster than expected?

Not easy. I know. Especially in my case as I am still trying to manage my time more effectively and the way I would like it to be.

-How about you?

-Do you agree? Do you sometimes treat a translation as urgent to accommodate new work or other things that life throws at you?

M.

balance · finding your way · freelancing · motivation · procrastination · time management · twitter · work

How freelancers (and Twitter enthusiasts) can tame the procrastination beast

{What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.}

Procrastination.

A popular topic.

A normal human condition.

Here’s what. I will be viewing procrastination as a beast that wants to eat you alive.

Just joking.

Perhaps I should try to be a bit softer around the edges.

Procrastination is a beast you have to kill now.

Too strong?

Let me give it another go.

Procrastination is a BAD AND UGLY BEAST that prevents you from doing the BEAUTIFUL THINGS YOU WANT to do.

I think this sounds better.

Now.

I can’t wait to share with you one edgy way to stop putting things off. Things that mean something to you. Starting ~which translates to…~ blog was one of those things. So bear with me and I will tell you how I did it.Maybe you want to try it out too.

There’s one thing you should always remember.This beast is BAD. It’s stronger than you. And it has many friends.One of those friends, my friends, is TWITTER.

FIGHT THE PROCRASTINATION BEAST THROUGH WORK & LESS TWEETING

Are you spending too much time on Twitter (or other social media) during work or after finishing a project?

(there’s no way of this thing working unless I also talk about Twitter).

If you are a procrastinator, spending too much time on social media can make things worse.

I am not saying that in order to fight the procrastination beast, you should stay away from Twitter or your favourite social media platforms.

(that could actually help a lot though and you know it)

I’m saying that while you will be trying to fight procrastination, you are going to be facing procrastination’s BEST FRIEND. Social Media. So, we will have to take that friend into consideration.

This unusual way of fighting the P. beast and its friend can be summarised this way:

Fight procrastination + Control your social media addiction + Get work done + Do the things you love.

The whole package.

You see, I did it.

Me. Someone who has been putting off having a writing blog for almost two years. Someone who was writing drafts of posts and other stuff on her smartphone and a folder on the computer collecting digital dust.

Yes. Me.

You see, if you are not working, or if you are not very busy, it’s likely that you will don’t feel the pressure of running out of time which translates to spending more time on Twitter (or other social media platforms.)

However, there is one thing I want to emphasize here.

I don’t believe that people that spend a lot of time on Twitter on a daily basis are necessarily people who aren’t busy. They can actually be terribly busy but they also love to spend time on Twitter.And when you love doing something, you do CREATE TIME for it, don’t you?

If you are sending 20-30 tweets a day it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have nothing else to do. It could mean that you are multi-tasking and you are doing YOUR WORK and you are CONNECTING with others.

But what if combining WORK + SOCIAL MEDIA isn’t helping you overcome procrastination?

What if there was a way to fight procrastination, do what you want and need to do and send tweets too?

(but not too many tweets and probably not on a daily basis)

Interested?

Keep reading.

(if you are still with me, that is)

WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER

As I mentioned earlier, it took me nearly two years to start this blog.

The moment I started pursuing it, I kept getting more translation work. There was no way I could get down to seriously start my blog project because I constantly had to shift my attention to urgent work (with translation almost everything is urgent). There was no time management that could help me, no praying for time as the song goes.

I was also writing another rather demanding blog and co-writing on another which is partially “to blame” for postponing my writing blog. Still, the idea here is that it was ME who was doing this to MYSELF. Excuses or no excuses.

Basically, I was in a rut that went something like this:

Translation work + family + errands + other blogs + calls and emails from friends + more translation work + family + household chores + other blogs

& so forth

But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

And here’s the deal:

The increase of translation work helped me kill my procrastination habit.

What?

(if you are still here, please continue reading)

KILLING THE BEAST SOFTLY

The more you make promises to yourself or create insane to-do lists, the less likely it is to find the time to stick to your plans. If things keep coming up and if freelance life is so unpredictable, you are going round in circles.

What you need to do is be flexible. Don’t go against the tide. Go along with it.

I was unaware that I was finally finding a way to get on with my blog project. And I did this through translating. I guess this was the only or best way for me. I kind of need a challenge to get to do things. It might not work for you so don’t try this at home unless you love taking risks. Or trying different things.

This blog was created while translating on some crazy deadline.

Instead of waiting until my project was over, I started this blog. Because I knew that once my translation work would be over, I would be dragging this tired body for a NAP.

And I was completely unaware that I was coming up with a “way” to fight procrastination. Well, at least my way.

KILLING THE BEAST SOFTLY. WARMING UP

(please follow these steps in this order)

1. Focus on your work but don’t “forget” about your project.

2. Between “breaks” or periods without work, “think” about what you want to do without doing anything. Yes, do absolutely nothing. But make notes about it. Make it even more desirable. Lay out a plan on how you wish to proceed or be totally relaxed and just write down your thoughts and feelings. Why is this project so important to you? Is it important to you? Why do you put it off?

3. Do your job (for me it was translation) and, gradually, every time you have a “break”, look at your notes. Rewrite things so you are convinced that this is something you really want. (I have filled half a diary with these notes about my upcoming blog and other projects. I had to give up on some of them)

4. Go back to paid work. Work that pays the bills. Your project can wait. Give time to your project to simmer. See how much you want it.

5. Let your job “take the best of you”.

In the meantime, try to spend less time on social media. Continue sending tweets but don’t overdo it. If you can, tweet about your project. If you prefer not to, set a maximum of 4 tweets a day for 3 days.

Tough?

I know.

KILLING THE BEAST

1. Start simple. Let’s say you want to apply to a magazine you have been reading for a while for an article submission. Create a new email. Get the email address and the name of the person to address your query to. Start writing the first paragraph. If the beast is trying to bite you, refuse to give up. Stick to your guns. At least, finish the first paragraph. One finished sentence could induce another sentence. Or a hundred more.

2. If along the way you have a job assignment, all you need to do is focus on your assignment. Of course. But you are not anxious anymore about having done nothing for your project.

3. You promise to yourself that the moment you deliver the job to the client, you will get back to your project. If you feel like it, go take a peek at what you wrote or started. Add another piece to the mosaic. Just one. Add more pieces to the mosaic. You can do it while working or tweeting.

4. Add more pieces to the mosaic. You can do it while working or tweeting. But you PROCEED. You combine things. You control things. You control your LIFE. You might not get there very soon but you will.

Procrastination.

A normal human condition.

And with social media it could get worse.

But not necessarily.

Magda