A New Year’s approach to exercising for freelance translators seeking a perfect work–life balance

Many freelancers start their solo career with grand visions of achieving a perfect work–life balance. They plan to shop when the supermarket is quiet, go for long runs on sunny days or take extended lunch breaks to meet up with friends who have also seen the freelancing light.

Six months of working ten hours per day later, and the dream turns out to be somewhat different from reality. Of course, although this isn’t the case for all freelancers, it is for many. Underestimating the time drain that running your own business can entail can play a key role in this. Tasks like marketing, networking and VAT returns (for starters) all take time away from hours that can be spent actually billing clients. This is part of what chips away at that initial vision.

Then there are the clients themselves. Some want urgent work that simply must be done immediately. It’s astonishing how many companies leave essential translations to the last minute. Others move the goal posts halfway through the project. The result for translators is more money (hurrah!) but also an accompanying backlog of work as other projects have to be juggled to accommodate the awkward one.

With all of this going on, it’s not surprising that many freelancers struggle to make time to exercise. Doing so means losing precious billable hours. You can’t really bill a client for the time you spend in the gym during the working day. A lack of colleagues can often equal a lack of motivation to exercise since the removal of the element of competition can have a direct impact on laziness levels.

That’s why freelancers can benefit from taking a fresh approach to exercise, one that fits with their daily routine and doesn’t impact on their ability to earn money. Treadmill desks are a great way to do this, as are exercise bike desks. These offer all the benefits of cycling, but with a desk attached to the handlebars, so you can type, make calls, undertake translations and carry out your usual work, all while pumping those pins to keep in shape.

Or how about setting a timer to remind you to do a seven-minute workout every couple of hours? The intense burst of activity will not only help you keep in shape while minimising the time you spend away from your desk, but will also leave you feeling re-energised and ready to tackle the next task.

Back this up with healthy snacking and you’ll soon see a difference. And this is all about convenience. Keep a bowl of washed fruit on your desk so you can grab a piece effortlessly whenever hunger strikes. Grapes and berries are perfect for those moments when you fancy something sweet, as are cereal bars. By having them on your desk, you won’t get drawn into the kitchen with its cupboards full of tempting chocolate bars, biscuits and crisps!

The key is to build exercise into a routine that fits around your freelance lifestyle. This doesn’t have to involve dramatic changes that you’ll soon find reasons to drop. Instead, it’s about setting realistic goals that you can achieve as part of your regular working routine. Embed exercise as something that is part of your working life, not something additional to it. That’s the secret to bringing about lasting change!

This guest post is by Louise Taylor, the content manager for translation company Tomedes. She is a freelance writer who has had a passion for languages since an early age. As a long-term freelancer, she understands the positive parts and the pressures of working in the freelance sector.

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2 thoughts on “A New Year’s approach to exercising for freelance translators seeking a perfect work–life balance

  1. Very interesting, thank you. But doesn’t an exercise bike mean that you’re still sitting, regardless of the extra exercise you may be partaking in? Don’t we still need to get up and go for a walk?


    1. Hi Alison, I guess an exercise bike is better than just sitting. I don’t think I would like that set-up myself. I’m not sure a bike desk would be comfortable. And getting up and going for a walk outdoors is always going to be beneficial, regardless of how much exercise you do indoors. I’ve read quite a bit recently about the benefits of spending time in nature.


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