Monthly Archives: September 2016

Managing your workload – it can be stressful – the translator’s daily problem?

In the last blog I looked at the minimum and maximum amount of work a translator can put in before it causes problems for their work. This time we’re going to look at some of the other work-related problems translators can face.

When you’re starting off – as well as setting your rates and making new contacts – the very real possibility of work drying up is often a fear. Even if you’re successful and established there are always irrational worries about the next client not emerging (or paying!), the next project not being locked in, etc. When you’re worried about moving onto the next task – say there is a delay if you’re starting off a project – then sometimes self-doubt creeps in. The risk of indulging this might compromise the quality of any work you do then get. This then further perpetuates the self-doubt issue, and when you’re doing something for the first time you don’t need that clouding your judgement!

This in turn can contribute to ill health (as can doing too much work – see the last blog), and/or taking on too much work in an attempt to counteract previous issues. Taking on too much work can contribute to longer working hours, or a feeling of spreading yourself thinly. Rather than focusing on single tasks, a large workload can result in incremental progress while multi-tasking. Tiredness can result in questioning your ability, wondering if you actually did your job correctly, meaning you double check and take even more time. Take five and realise that you will sort things out!

These are very real problems that many people experience at work. Managing your workload and being confident in your ability to do the job are aspects of work that you aren’t always trained for, and need looked into where possible. I know – or at least I think I know, based on my contacts in the translating and interpreting worlds – that most people don’t have these issues, but there are many who do and, for what it’s worth, I’d suggest that the most important thing in these circumstances is to remind yourself not just of all your successes, but also of how well trained and competent you are and how your skills are in great demand. As I’ve written here on many occasions in the past, translation and interpretation are vital skills, needed by businesses worldwide. That means that people like you can make a successful career and a good living.

Rosetta Stone, Global Connects

How long can you translate for? Six hours a day? More? Less?

As a translator, your labour may not involve a lot of physical exertion, but there is still a limit to how much you should work. With a job that involves detailed knowledge of not only another language but also of another culture and its nuances, you need to be able to concentrate hard, check facts, proof-read and, ultimately, craft great copy.

In this feature on the Open Mic there are tips on how much work you should be putting in per month and how much you can expect to charge based on that and other factors. I think it’s really interesting.

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 09.26.48It asks a translator, just starting out, to consider how much work is feasible in a month. Sixty hours of pure work (not counting breaks and procrastination!) is deemed (by the blog’s writer) a reasonable amount. That works out at less than four hours work per day, which is a comfortable amount of work to be doing (as anyone in a Nine-to-Five job will tell you!), but translation is a specifically focused task and we are talking about the actual time worked rather than the shift itself. Five hours a day, pushing your monthly total up to a hundred working hours, is going to push you towards the edge of your effectiveness.

Six hours a day translating is apparently the edge. Any more than this and you simply will not be able to do the job effectively. As someone whose job is labour-intensive may suffer from burn out so too may the translator’s mental faculties be temporarily exhausted. Six hours a day can be sustained for short bursts when you have a lot of work to do, but otherwise should be avoided.  However, isn’t there then a danger that this ‘productivity’ issue will ultimately be rendered irrelevant by machines, which don’t have any problems working 24×7?   I’d be fascinated to know what translators think?

Rosetta Stone, Global Connects