Once upon a time, there was a lonely translator in a pretty nondescript room in a rather untidy house. She was sitting down to work rather than walking on her treadmill in front of her stand-up desk as the repetitive movement had given her painful plantar fasciitis.
Besides that problem, she was trying extremely hard not to turn green with envy when reading the feeds of her colleagues during her social-media breaks. Because they all seemed to be jetting off to conferences, workshops and other get-togethers and generally enjoying themselves. Life isn’t always a barrel of laughs when the unthinkable happens, you become a carer and are stuck at home. So she hit upon the plan of asking her fellow translators whether anyone fancied a chat.
In this guest post, Desiree Villena, a writer with Reedsy, gives people that are suddenly finding themselves working from home because of the coronavirus a few tips on how to manage.
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into life’s well-oiled mechanisms in many different ways, and your work is probably one of them. Working from home before the spring of 2020 was often associated with freelancers who enjoyed hopping around the world, or relatively young startup companies. Now, it’s an inescapable reality for many businesses worldwide.
As a result, many people are having to adapt to this new worklife. Working from home can be such a disruption to your usual routine that you may be unsure if it can really be effective. Even those who have worked remotely for a while can still struggle to organize their days well! So how can you stay focused and productive in an environment that reminds you of entertainment and relaxation?
Luckily, there are plenty of tricks to help with this. Here are just five essential things you must know to set yourself up at your own home.
Great news! Human life expectancy is increasing. Earlier this year, The Independent newspaper published an article with the bold headline: There is someone alive today who will live to be 1,000 years-old. “Hurray, more time to translate!” I hear you cry. But what if, secretly, you’d really rather not? Perhaps you quite fancy taking a break to travel the world in your golden years? Maybe, by then, it could even be a space shuttle cruise around the galaxy.
Even if we live to the more widely-expected average age of around 80, we might just have to think about that thing that 43% of freelancers in the UK (compared to only 4% of those in employment) don’t yet have: a personal pension.
Feeling left out as the translation conference season was about to kick off again with me still stuck at home, I thought it’d be interesting to chat to colleagues on a one-to-one level. Since some conferences sell access to videos of the talks after the event, others have even been streamed live and blog posts and webinars on a variety of topical subjects abound, it’s the networking you miss out on by not attending events rather than the content. That’s why I asked you all a couple of months ago whether you fancied a chat.
The other day I was speaking to my niece, who lives abroad, on the phone, not something we do regularly, and she asked how I was. ‘Tired,’ I answered. ‘You’re always tired,’ she sighed back. And she’s right. But there’s generally not much else an insomniac can say.
While some people seem to manage on just a few hours of sleep (lots of politicians only get four to five hours, apparently, including Trump, but I’m not sure that’s worked in his favour as he doesn’t make much sense most of the time), if I get less than six hours too many days in a row, my brain switches off.
Feeling lonely in your translation bubble?
Envious of colleagues about to network at a conference?
Met me before and want to catch up?
Read something on my blog and would like to discuss it in more detail?
Join me for half an hour on Skype for a cup of afternoon tea, nightcap or morning coffee (depending on your time zone) and let’s talk shop.
Click here to book a time slot (appointments are currently available for the rest of August, September and October). Looking forward to chatting with you!
- There’s obviously no charge for the chats.
- Chats won’t be recorded.
- That’s not me in the photo.
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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.
Ours can be a very lonely profession. Especially if we live on our own or are tied to the home as parents or carers. And jobs that ping into our inbox at unexpected times can make us change our plans and batten down the hatches until we meet the deadline. Because we need the money, don’t want to disappoint the client or cannot find anyone else to take the work on for us. And perhaps also because we’ve become workaholics.
Sometimes life throws you a curveball and the unthinkable happens: a family member is struck with a long-term illness and you suddenly have to take on the role of carer. Caring for a loved one can be physically and emotionally draining and as time-consuming as looking after a baby, but often with none of the happy milestones marking a transition from one phase to another. Not only does caring take huge bites out of your available work time, it often does not put you in the frame of mind to focus when you finally do manage to sit down at your desk.
Giving up work entirely is not always a financially viable option for the family. In my case, I’ve had no choice but to cut down on my hours and learn to work smarter. Although my earnings have dropped by about 20% in the past two years I’ve been a carer, I reckon the time I spend translating, on admin and other work-related matters is 50% less. I now very rarely work in the evenings or at weekends and I certainly don’t always work a full day either during the week. My aim is to get back to the same level of earnings without increasing the number of my working hours. In this post I’d like to share a few of the ways I’ve managed to ensure that the unthinkable didn’t turn into a financial disaster for my family.
It’s been over two years since I decided my bottom was going to spread no further and that it was high time I got off it and started being more active. Walking the dog (I’ve got a greyhound) just wasn’t enough to counteract the huge amount of time I was spending sitting down either at my desk or with the family on cold winter nights in front of the TV or playing board games.
Galvanised by all the New Year’s resolutions popping up on social media and after reading yet another article on the dangers of our current lifestyle, I decided to get a stand-up desk and a treadmill to go with it in 2015. You can read all about my purchases in my first post on the topic and more details in ‘Answers to Your Questions on the Pros and Cons of Using a Stand-Up Treadmill Desk’.