Many people working in the field of linguistics know exactly how much they are expected to do every day. Teachers or professors stick to their schedule, though there are instances which require extra work – grading tests or preparing material for courses and seminars. Translators working for a firm get their work share at the beginning of the week and usually no more than they can handle. But this is true for teams whose members get together with their manager and think things through for the benefit of both the clients and the translators involved.
How much is ‘too much’?
When you work on your own, you have no control on the amount of work coming your way. If you are good at what you do and have a huge list of regular clients already, you may find yourself at a loss how to manage the job opportunities you are offered. Translation work is something that you certainly love doing but too much of something is, more often than not, likely to turn into a nightmare. So what can you do in order to be able to handle these jobs and not lose your mind?
Take it or leave it?
Accepting extra material from someone that you know well and with whom you have previously worked in perfect terms is not difficult. Your old clients know that last-minute translations may juxtapose with your previously accepted projects and, if they really want you to do the job, they will not pressure you into solving their problem on the spot. Yet, sometimes they, in turn, are forced to have the project done in a flash, which means that you will have to make a wise choice quickly. Should you say no and have them disappointed or should you take on more than you usually do and fulfil their needs?
What is the ‘perfect formula’?
Experience must have taught you a great deal about your own ‘limits’ and ‘efficiency under pressure’ so the only thing that you should take into account is how much sleep you are ready to give up for the benefit of your client. Money will not be a problem under the circumstances because urgent jobs are generally paid much better in any part of the globe. Suppose you could make room for the new project, would it be good to cram it into your fixed schedule and give up breaks or should you deal with it at the end of the day in one session, no matter what time you might be able to go to sleep? It all depends on the kind of person that you really are. Some need to alternate between jobs because if they don’t, they are likely to get bored with the same topic. Others, on the contrary, prefer to stick to what they already do and complete it for fear they might be taken off the track by the new topic. Whichever category you may belong to, having shorter breaks will certainly help. You can organise your desk in such a way that a cup of tea or coffee and a healthy snack may be placed within reach. And if you were wise enough to purchase an ergonomic chair for your desk, you will not need to leave the work area very often. A challenging project does deserve some sacrifice, don’t you think?
The exception proves the rule
The only category of linguists that might not be thrilled to receive last-minute projects consists of those who work as both translators and interpreters. With a huge job waiting to be completed on your desktop, sometimes you may find it impossible to take half a day or more off and travel a few miles away to attend to a client for hours. Unless you are part of a well-organised team and usually receive shorter or less stressful projects just in case you are needed for interpreting services, you will have to decline the latter. Without getting into more details, I am sure you got the point. Time management is something that everybody learns, whether they have been hired by a translation company or do freelance work from home. You, the individual translator/interpreter, will be the first one to notice how much you can take on and what kind of jobs really fit like a glove. Once you have learned that, you can gather your strength and organise your day so that everything that comes out of your keyboards (or mouth) is top-notch and timely too.