After years of saying ‘no’, ‘no’ and ‘no’ some more, especially as I didn’t relish the idea of getting up early to brave the wind and rain in winter, he returned from parkrun one Saturday morning and said they were desperate for volunteers. So desperate that the runs might be cancelled if no one came forward.
The next weekend I was standing on one of the course corners as a marshal, cheering and clapping everyone on with our last greyhound, Alfie, by my side.
‘But don’t get any ideas,’ I told my husband. ‘I’m never going to actually run.’
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.
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.