One of the great joys of freelancing is the ability to work at your own pace. Not having set hours can either be a boon or a detriment to your work-life balance, however, so learning how to balance them effectively is key to making freelancing work for you.
First, you need to understand your preferred work style. Very generally, there are two types of freelancers: Schedulers and Sprinters. Schedulers stick to predetermined daily or weekly schedules and work at a steady, even pace. Sprinters work non-stop when a project is active and take longer breaks between jobs. Neither style is necessarily better; the most important factor in which to choose is understanding which style works for you and the life you want to lead. For example, I’m a Sprinter and prefer to work a couple 10-hour days followed by 2-3 days of rest, but once my son starts school, I’ll need to transition more of a Scheduler workstyle to ensure I have enough family time. It’s all about successfully creating time for both your work and your life.
Whichever style suits you, there are some points to keep in mind so that you produce the best translations you can.. Here are some things to stay mindful of as you work with each style.
Some people love knowing how their day, week, and month will go. Some people need it. If you take the Scheduler path, keep the following in mind as you work.
Make work time work time
With the numerous and constant contact options and work possibilities available at every moment, it’s easy to jump away from a task the minute something comes up, but that’s death to a schedule. If you address every single request, email, or billing issue as it arises, you could easily find yourself with no time to actually translate! That’s why good schedulers block out time for activities. Blocking out time could be as complex as making two- or three-hour blocks for every working hour in a day or as simple as scheduling an hour every morning for email, Friday afternoon for billing, and the rest for translation. Whatever you do, make sure that you focus on what you’ve scheduled when the time comes.
Make up for overtime
Schedules are guidelines and from time to time a project might demand overtime. If you end up working overtime, make up for it later. Take some normally scheduled work time and block it off for relaxation, otherwise you could start heading towards a long burn and wear yourself down.
Other people prefer to work while work is available and rest only when there’s nothing else on their plate. This makes for exceptional turn-around times on projects, but there are some caveats to making sure you don’t end up working 60-hour weeks when you’re not looking to do that.
Don’t take on too much work
Know how long it takes you to work, even if that’s just a daily character limit. Once you know the metric that works for you, stick to it! Overcommitting yourself will only lead to burn out and potentially sully your reputation with clients. There’s nothing worse to your mental health and the quality of your work than having too much on your plate.
In a similar vein, know when you’ve done enough for one day. I’ve found that the work I do after 10 PM only creates diminishing returns, as I end up making so many mistakes that I waste quality translating time the next morning fixing errors.
Make sure you have time for hobbies and other aspects of your life
Translation may be your bread and butter, but don’t make it your plate and table, too. Always have time for exercise, hobbies, TV, or whatever else you do for you. If you don’t, you could lose yourself in work and burn yourself out, even if only over the short term. While the Sprinting-style provides long blocks for relaxation after a project is complete, make sure to incorporate smaller breaks into your days as well.
These are just some things to stay cognizant of as you find the workflow that suits you. You’ll most likely end up with some sort of hybrid, as your current workload and goals might end up dictating the style you have to adopt. Freelancing allows for a lot of flexibility, so keep trying different styles until you find that one that helps you produce the best translations you can.
November 23, 2021