Jun 292010
 

tranfree 71 – Avoiding & coping with Staleness.

You can also download this edition of tranfree 71 as a PDF

Editorial

As I sit and type, it’s a beautiful sunny day here – perfect for the second week of Wimbledon.

We’ve got two articles for you this time. The first is about getting the balance right between work and other aspects of life. This is an area I have been constantly challenged in – having spent time at both extremes and in the middle. In the article we explore ways of coping with and avoiding staleness and burnout.

The second article is by Jost Zetzsche on the theme of translation tools. Jost is well placed to write such an article, as he publishes his own newsletter “The Tool Kit” about software tools for translators.

I hope you enjoy and benefit from tranfree smile

Alex

Alex Eames
tranfree editor, Author –

How to Earn $80,000+ per Year as a Freelance Translator
and
Selling Your Professional Services on the Web

Getting the Balance Right – Preventing & Coping With Staleness

By Alex Eames

Do you ever get stale1? Do you ever find, when you’ve been working on a large project for a long time, that you just get fed up or bored with it? Does that ever happen to you?

Deadlines Can Help, But They Can Also Push You Over the Edge

It’s almost impossible to get stale on a job that’s “for tomorrow” because you’re only working on it for one day and you’ve got no choice. You have to get the job finished by the deadline date or bye-bye client.

But when you’ve been working intensely on a project for a while – burning the candle at both ends for a sustained period of time – eventually you can find yourself getting “stale”. You sit down at your computer and it feels like you are two similar magnetic poles repelling each other. It’s as if your computer says “not you again?” and the feeling is mutual.

You think to yourself “I want my life back”. That’s when you’ve got to sit up and take notice. You’ve been overdoing it! You’ve become stale and you need some time off.

You really need to listen to that, and take some time off. If you’re a “deadline junkie” – going from one adrenaline rush to another, with a string of tight deadlines – one day you might find yourself stale. You sit at your computer and you think “I can’t go on”.

So how is it possible to get the balance right? To be really honest with you, I’m not quite sure. But let’s explore a few possible solutions together.

1. Schedule Slots For Leisure Time (and protect them vigorously but flexibly).

Translation work can be somewhat sporadic – unless you’re busy ALL the time. (That can be a good problem to have, but not always. You’re more likely to get pushed into burnout if you’re too busy for too long.) Is there a way that you can schedule in some leisure activities as “Immovable Objects”?

Any kind of social, hobby or leisure activity that gets you away from your computer will work. Can you do that? Will it work for you? Can you say…

“Right! Every Friday I’m going to take the morning
off and go and play tennis”
(or whatever it is that you like to do).

Of course, you need to reserve the right to be flexible about it. If you know a job is coming in on Friday, take the time out earlier in the week. Just don’t make a habit of skipping the “time out” altogether.

2. Negotiate Better Deadlines (a lot of them aren’t real anyway).

“Sorry I can’t fit that in as I am fully committed this morning.
How about Friday early afternoon?”

OK, so you’re “fully committed” going to the gym smile, but they don’t need to know that! Quite often, deadlines are somewhat arbitrary, and if you care to challenge them, there can be a degree of flexibility.

3. Learn to say No (and resist the call of Mammon).

If a proposed deadline doesn’t offer any flexibility and threatens to rob you of your sanity…

“Just say No”

I’ve deliberately chosen that phrase from Nancy Reagan’s campaign against drugs in the 1980s. You see, I think you can get addicted and trapped in a “continuous earning cycle”, which can lead you to ignore other needs – both yours and others’. That’s a dangerous place to be. Adrenaline addiction is real and there are several different types. It’s not just people who jump out of planes and do crazy things. See adrenalineaddicts.org for details.

4. Improve Your Productivity (but share the extra spare time with yourself).

Productivity enhancing methods and tools can be a great help. But instead of always using them to earn more and more money, use them to work less hours and fit in some refreshing non-business activities. I bet you never thought you would hear me say that!
eek

5. Increase Your Rates and Work Less (yes you can).

This one might ruffle a few feathers. razz Increase rates? Impossible! You must be mad!

A big hint here is that if you want to charge more, you’ll need some (more) direct clients.

6. Predict Your Working Time Realistically.

Everyone hates wasting time looking through a document to either count words or estimate how long it will take. It needn’t take a long time. A few minutes spent really looking at a sample of the text might stop you from grossly underestimating how long a job will take you. We’ve all done it! You work on a job that looked great for the first ten pages, but the next five were a complete nightmare, taking twice as long as the first ten. Having a proper look at the job in advance can save you having to pull an all-nighter and tiring yourself out.

7. Sub-contract work and start an agency. (That’s a joke by the way).

We’re after less stress here, not more. big grin

What To Do If You Do Get Stale

Despite the above preventative ideas, there is still a likelihood that staleness will appear at some point. There is a tendency to take all the work you can get because of uncertainty over the future.

When you’re stale, you may try to force yourself to carry on regardless. Or, you can accept that you are stale and say…

“I’m not going to get anything useful done sitting at my
computer today. I’m going to take the day off and do
something fun; something I want to do; something I enjoy;
something for somebody else.”

As long as it’s something that changes your focus, away from your work and earning money, it will be refreshing. (Preferably something not involving your computer.)

It’s hard to be prescriptive about this, so I won’t even try. What is refreshing to one person will be a burden to another. But “a change is as good as a rest”. It really can be. Just find something that suits and refreshes you.

One of the main advantages of being a freelance is the total freedom. But, as I said in tranfree 69, you have to use it wisely. You also have total freedom to mess yourself up physically and mentally, if you abuse that freedom by working 24/7.

When you’re busy, there can be a very strong temptation not to have an abundance mentality but to be locked into the “feast or famine” mentality…

“I’ve got this glut of jobs right now so I’m going to work
my tail off, get all of this lot done, and then have a rest.”

But, the thing is, that your rest doesn’t actually materialise unless you schedule it in and stick to it. You’ll keep saying YES or agreeing to artificial deadlines to get your next adrenaline rush.

Most religious faiths recognise the Sabbath principle, which means having one day in seven free from work. I believe the underlying “earthly” reason for that is that it’s simply not good for you to work all the time. Yes you can get away with it for a while, but it will catch up with you at some point – and you’ll pay for it later!

Even if you aren’t a workaholic, adrenaline junkie (and not everyone is) I expect you know someone who is. I hope you found this useful and thought-provoking.

Alex Eames is the founder of translatortips.com,
editor of tranfree and author of the eBooks…

How to Earn $80,000+ Per Year as a
Freelance Translator

and
Selling Your Professional Services on the Web


1 Stale: having lost freshness, vigour, quick intelligence, initiative, or the like, as from overstrain, boredom, or surfeit: He had grown stale on the job and needed a long vacation. (dictionary.com)

For the second article visit http://alexeames.com/blog/?p=533

  One Response to “Getting the Balance Right & Translation Tools – tranfree 71”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by philippahammond. philippahammond said: Calling all deadline adrenalin junkies – have a read of Getting the Balance Right http://ow.ly/26eaS […]

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