balance · tips for freelancers · translation · twitter · work life balance · writing

Chickenpox, headache, a walk in the park and the meaning of it all

thomson memorial park
Nature as a setting for some “me time”, for recharging and connecting with yourself and with people.

 

Dear friends and readers,

During April, there was a week or two that I had it tough. I had a headache that took a few days to go away and this was after my 4 year old went through chickenpox so part of it was due to not having slept properly for at least a week.

But it wasn’t just that.

What made my headache worse was that I immediately started working on a translation that came in during the end of the period that my kid was home. Taking no time to do something about the headache and having no alternatives, I proceeded with the translation in hand hoping that my headache would go away.

Taking a break from parenting or freelancing (the two go hand in hand) is always a mission impossible, unless it’s for a couple of hours and always during the week while my kid is at school – which isn’t really a break – so I knew deep inside that this was a “normal” situation that I just had to endure.

Chickenpox is part of the process.

Having spoken with other parents, I was happy that my four year old had it now and not later. I heard of moms and dads who went through chickenpox along with their kids and it was a horrible experience for them.

Back to the headache now.

As I went along translating and doing all the other things I needed to do I kept realising that it’s impossible for someone not to be able to take a break. A break from the computer. Because it’s the computer that I blame for that headache. Well, not exactly the computer but you know what I mean. After intense translation work or an intense period of whatever (chickenpox) you need a break from it to help you see clearly.

Thing is I usually never take a break from it (not until when the chickenpox bout as you will see later). And besides translation work, I have other projects going on (let’s call it “writing, rewriting and deleting”). I don’t have a strict daily writing schedule but if an idea pops up (and it just so happens that ideas spring up while translating), I will write it down regardless of headaches, slight aches ..and other minor or major events.

So if I wasn’t translating, I was writing. But besides writing, there’s the temptation of Twitter which I have covered previously in the post How freelancers (and Twitter enthusiasts) can tame the #procrastination beast.

About Twitter. Even if I believe in its power and its magic in finding like-minded spirits that in real life and in your neighbourhood would have been impossible to locate, you need to know how and when to draw the line. That line that reminds you that you are not dedicating enough time to your side projects.

I decided it was time to find that golden line, hold it well, keep it straight and never let go.

After that translation was delivered, I took a long walk in the park with a friend and it was great. I kept my phone in the car. That felt even better.

That walk was like an antidote to everything that happened to me during the chickenpox period and afterwards. It was a revelation. I actually went to walk three times with my friend along with other people who joined us. Walking in the park with others is priceless. It’s also a time to connect with people offline and not just to connect with yourself.

That’s why the experience was something to write about.

Which translates to… taking a break from translating in order to write.

To write about headaches of course and about how crucial it is to take a break from it all, to let yourself experience something completely different, to embrace a state of mind that is pure, that is light, that nurtures you physically, that gives you food for thought.

Thought that removes those 140 character boundaries of tweets from our life.

That wasn’t a normal headache. It was a warning. An opportunity to finally do something different.

Walk in the park or go on the swing with your kids (I do it often – oops, did I hear a squeak?).

If you don’t have time to drive to parks you would love to go to or different locations do something different in the place you go to on a daily basis.

The baby park has tremendous possibilities. I get to talk with moms, read Dostoyevsky (a few paragraphs each time will suffice) and take notes.

The name of the game is less online and more offline, less tweeting and more working. I’m sure there are many of you out there that feel the same way. Share your thoughts.—

Thank you for reading…

A presto,

Magda

finding your way · movement · procrastination · social media · technology · twitter

The unbearable lightness of the smartphone

{once upon a time there was lightness which had absolutely nothing to do with technology…}
 

There’s always so much to deal with. All those tweets, the links, random bookmarks, this and that. Tidbits of information that could be useful tomorrow but they are actually impeding your creativity today. Which translates to a blurred vision of our dreams. And it is frustrating.

It’s FRUSTRATING to have all this technology in your hands, to have the possibility of networking and do simple marketing through social media and yet to let yourself be bitten by wicked spidery procrastination beasts on the net.

We have access to so many things and yet we only need very few.

At times we are lost.

You want to catch up with people, you want to talk and sometimes vent, you want to walk in the park and of course when work comes in it all comes to a halt.

What do you do?

When will you work on your dream project?

When will you write or read?

When will you remove Twitter from your Smartphone?

Why does everything need to be on your Smartphone?

It would seem that the Smartphone is crucial but – besides email notifications – why should a device be such a vital acessory of your existence, your being?

Talk about the unbearable lightness of being!

We are inundated with too much information, tweets and retweets and the more digital we become, the more we realise that there’s little to gain if we don’t stay focused.

I don’t know but it seems to me that the more “lightness” you let into your life, the heavier you will feel and the less you will create.

Lightness is heavy.

Loads (lots) to bear.

Think. Erase what you absolutely have not time for now and when you will eventually have time, you can always put it back.

Keep what you need. Talk to the people that care about you. Be with the people you care about. Keep the love. Let go of the heavy stuff.

Less is more.

{What do you think? Is your Smartphone getting in your way? Do you wish you lived a more natural life?…}

A presto,

Magda

 

—image credit movingfromwithin.blogspot.com

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

branding · social media · technology · translation · twitter

Freelance translation, branding and our times

free-nature-backgrounds-1

 

I have been thinking about translators who lived in the past. Those who translated books by hand, under the candlelight, or even later, those in more recent years, who used the typewriter. Before computers, Twitter, Facebook. They produced brilliant, life changing translations that shaped our world.

Translators in ancient times would find ways to communicate with kindred spirits, patrons, people who loved books, languages, knowledge, wisdom. Through word of mouth miracles are possible even today. Imagine when it was the only way.

Although I am no historian or a translation industry expert, I would like to share some thoughts on things translators who worked before the introduction of the internet and technology never worried about:

1. Competition

Education was a privilege of the few. Let alone knowing more than one language. So if you have few competitors why bother distributing leaflets to let them know of your services? Your clients knew where to find you. They knew you were educated. They knew you knew Hebrew, Greek, Latin. You also may have had long letters of recommendation with seals of Bishops. Who could beat that?

2. Deadlines

The concept of time (is money) hasn’t always been around, not until the Industrial Revolution. So, if I was given a book to translate and I knew that I had about a year to finish it, I wouldn’t worry that my client could find someone else to translate the same thing in 6 months. Why? Nobody had CAT tools and everybody accepted that 1 year is perfect timing. Or maybe it was 2 years or 5 years? Who can tell? Things took ages to occur. The world was slow. Before cars were invented it was even slower. Then we had airplanes. Then came the internet. And books were sold online. That was when we started to think deadline. You do it by the date required or you are dead (meat).

3. Translation software (+ competition + deadlines)

Translation technology is actually connected with the other two phenomena and cannot be understood separately. A translator who uses software is differentiated from someone who doesn’t. Clients will prefer someone who has CAT tools because they feel secure that no words are going to be missed, no spelling errors made, no repetitions and so forth. This really beats me. If you are a translator you must be able to do these without software. And I believe that a good translator today is perfectly able to do so. But deadlines (see above) and competition (see above) are give rise to new practices where technology is a key ingredient.

The branding trend in translation

There are many translators today who decide to establish themselves by creating a brand for their business. I understand them. The competition makes you want to be visible, reachable, different. And most importantly, memorable. The world is online. You cannot really afford to stay in the shadows. And there are so many translators who have already created a brand for themselves which is clearly inducing more and more translators to do the same.

Who would clients choose? Go through an agency? Which agency? Look up translators who are members of professional associations? Someone who’s recommended to them? Would they google it? Would they pick someone from the mere fact that he or she has created a brand without looking and cross-checking the information provided on their site?

I don’t know how branding affects the decision to choose a translator, but it appears that it helps a growing portion of translators who besides translation, transcreation, localization and interpreting, offer diversified services, such as services to translators, training, copywriting, consulting. It seems that branding helps you widen your horizons. But not everyone diversifies their services. Brands can help translators stand out from the crowd and create a memorable professional image.

That said, I personally would not choose branding as I am happy and comfortable with the idea of just being myself. The future, of course, is unknown and, nothing is set in stone. I just think I am an old school translator at heart, like a hang glider trying to fly against strong winds, the fog, the branding jets. Scary, I know.

I would like to think that the good clients still know how to find and appreciate these “hand gliding” translators.

I’d love to be that kind of translator (and writer…) who listens to the sound of the water, rain, wind, music, not notifications. I want to be someone who lives outside the peculiar and constraining 140 character boundaries of tweets. What about you?

Magda

 

image from wlpapers.com