Time Management for Freelance Translators

Those unfamiliar with the free translation industry usually think that free translation has more freedom in working hours and they can work anytime, anywhere! People seem to think that working from home without a boss is a wonderful existence!

Time and time management is key to freelancers

Now let’s assume that the translator’s career is progressing well and that the client base has been built. Time management is now the key to the freelance work life. If time is not managed properly, a freelancer’s life can become hell.

Working as a freelancer does not mean a lack of respect for normal working hours. On the contrary, more discipline is needed to organize the workday. If not, it could mean messy work appointments and no personal life.

Normally, it’s reasonable for freelancers to pay too much attention to the amount of work they have to do at the start of their career. Well, they chose this profession to do what they love, without going to the office, relying on others, working elsewhere, and so on. But by introducing specific freedom of employment, there must be limits, restrictions and rules on working hours that must be strictly adhered to. Here are some time management tips:

What are the peaks and troughs of your working day?

In general, freelancers work better at certain times of the day. For example, between 9:00 AM and 12:00 PM, translators can be more productive, which is why we call this peak work time. After lunch, for example between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., we are more sleepy and have less energy. How do we organize our working hours around these physical peaks and troughs? There are many workarounds, but it is recommended that during peak times you do more mental work, such as translation, and then other tasks with less mental strain, such as management and email, between 2 and 4 pm! This is just a suggestion, everyone’s work style is different, but it’s important to find your own rhythm to improve efficiency!

How often should we check emails?

It is important to update your email regularly, especially if you don’t, you may miss important deadlines or urgent texts that need to be translated, but a difficult habit for people to avoid is to read the email every time an email conversation pops up. Adjusting the emails we receive regularly, say every two hours, can be said to be very time consuming during the day and better manage time. This prevents inattention and allows translators to go into “email mode”, which is essentially a different thought process than translation. I said two hours as a general rule of thumb, I think this is an acceptable period to respond to customers. Or, if old habits are hard to break, why not set your inbox to “send/receive” every two hours.

Use a different area?

Due to the nature of freelance translation work, many clients or translation service companies are located in different time zones around the world: it is important to establish this at the beginning of the working relationship with the client. It can be beneficial for us, but in other cases, such as Spanish translators working for Asian clients, freelancers need to be very clear about the deadline at the start of the project and take into account the time difference in setting up. Another suggestion is to allow freelancers to program email messengers to automatically respond to customers or prospects during work hours and expected response times. This makes the customer aware of the time zone problem.

Try not to work on weekends?

I know this is easier said than done, because the deadline for most translations is often yesterday, and it’s always urgent, but it needs to be separated from work to refresh body and mind so we can be motivated and Monday morning be able to move. It is true that sometimes we do not plan well or the urgency of deadlines is unavoidable and we have to work on Sundays. However, if this is the case, it is important to rebalance the work and entertainment barometer and take a break on Monday morning.

It is important to manage our time correctly and use the right time to translate many aspects of the freelance life such as translating, management, attending seminars, marketing, learning the latest tools, etc… Keep a job diary Could be useful. on Sunday evenings to create a weekly work schedule, also taking into account peak and off-peak hours. Make sure that the mission plan is not too ambitious and realistic, leaving enough time for a healthy personal life.

The workload can also affect the work schedule: for example, the translation work can be very busy and there is no time for self-study or the tight time for attending seminars. It is important to use less busy work hours because managing them effectively will give you more satisfaction, more opportunities and better career development. In the meantime, we can adjust the vocabulary, do more marketing or study for exams. The most important thing is not to turn off the power when it’s not so busy, and to maintain the motivation and good work habits that we have now developed. In addition to the bread and butter translation and administrative work we have, we also need to set professional goals and adjust our weekly tasks to achieve them!

Manage administration and time

When working as a freelancer, the organization of administrative tasks is very important. An operational agreement must be drawn up to define delivery dates, invoices, archiving, procedures, retrieval documents, software maintenance, etc.

In general, the rule of thumb is to send translated invoices at the end of each month so that you can combine small and large projects and avoid the lowest costs that can jeopardize customer relationships. But this doesn’t happen often, because it can depend on each client and their requirements: some must be invoiced at the end of each project, some must be invoiced at the end of the month, some must be invoiced at the end of each project. end of month, etc. If you’re just starting out, you can use our translated invoice template here. Just fill in your details to get covered from all angles. It includes customer contact information and financial information, your information (such as address, financial information and bank account information) and project information (such as invoice date and due date), word count, language combination, tax…Wait… your IBAN number and Swift code!

Given the importance of invoices, it is important to simplify the process as much as possible. We often recommend that you request purchase orders from your customers. This is a good record of the project details that the freelancer and client have agreed upon before the translation starts, such as the agreed rate, language combination, delivery date, number of words in translation memory and translation speed, etc. Budget varies significantly.During the project is best for the PO to notify the customer and request an update from the PO to ensure that both parties are in full agreement on the additional work and that the customer is not seriously affected when the final settlement is received.

Management (such as translation and citation) can be boring at times because it is not a creative process, but it is necessary. People need to invest time to improve management process efficiency to save time and give customers more confidence!

I hope this advice is helpful, at least it can save you some time and make your personal life more positive. Comments from everyone are of course welcome!


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