October would have been much like any other month. I did translation and proofreading tasks for my usual clients, sent out CVs to agencies and offers to direct clients, worked on the new branding (did I mention that it turned out to be much more difficult than I had initially expected?) and communicated with colleagues on social media and here on my blog.
But there were three things that made the past month really special for me.
Translators on Air
October, 5 marked the beginning of the second season of the live talk show that I co-host together with my friend and colleague Dmitry Kornuykhov.
If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you know that we had a little bit of drama in August with our old platform dying on us two weeks before the start of Season 2 of Blabbing Translators.
That meant that we had to not only find a new platform but also come up with a new name.
The old one was tied to the name of the platform and had been the source of criticism on the part of some of our colleagues.
So, while I was sending out emails to our guests asking them to bear with us and promising them to get back to them with new dates for the interviews, Dmitry worked on the new website design.
We launched the second season on Wednesday, October, 5 on Crowdcast. And I must say, that it’s all going really well.
Crowdcast turned out to be a great platform with a lot of fun features. We see much more engagement. People up-vote our questions, take part in polls and ask their own questions. The only thing I sometimes miss is that high-five feature that we had on Blab.
By the way, did you have a chance to watch one of our interviews live? Do you like the new platform? Let me know what you think in the comments!
On October, 17 my husband was going to a corner shop right outside out block of flats when he heard someone squeaking. He looked around but didn’t see anyone. On his way back home he heard the same sound. This time he looked into a dumpster that was standing a few meters away from him and there they were — two newborn kittens.
He couldn’t leave them there, so he went home, took a shoe box and went to get them. We brought them home, washed them, fed them and this is how our life for the next few weeks was changed.
Now you might be wondering what all of this has to do with translation.
Well, having to feed someone every 2-3 hours even at night teaches you a thing or two about time management. And managing your time is important for any freelancer, translators are not an exception.
So here’s what I learned over the past four weeks.
1. Take care of yourself
I know, I know, I write about it a lot. But that’s because I believe that it’s the most important thing that you can do for you and your business.
Getting up every 2-3 hours at night to feed the kitties was hard. Even though my husband and I took turns.
I can’t function on 4 hours of sleep. Translation is an intellectual task, so I need to replenish my energy. This is why I have to get at least 6.5-7 hours of sleep every night. If that’s not possible, I take a nap in the afternoon. The main thing is that I get the rest I need.
Another thing that is vital for me in such circumstances is to eat well. When I don’t get enough sleep my body starts to crave carbohydrates and sweets. While slow carbs is actually a good thing, cookies and chocolate are not (mainly because the energy I get from them doesn’t last long).
Taking the time to think about what I’m going to eat and doing some simple preparations beforehand was a real game changer for me.
Finally, getting enough exercise and some fresh air is another great way to keep my energy levels high enough to perform my work well.
I’m lucky to have a dog, who takes me out for a walk 2-3 times a day no matter what the weather is. If it wasn’t the case, I would have probably put going for a walk on my schedule.
These are all simple things, there’s nothing groundbreaking about it, but I know I find it useful to be reminded of this from time to time. So I hope that if you’ve been neglecting some part of taking care of yourself you’ll take this post as a sign to reorganized your day and include something that makes you feel good into your schedule.
2. Make the most important task of the day first
I bet you’ve all heard this piece of advice. But are you following it? Cudos to you, if you do! I try to follow it, but it’s very easy to get distracted and start doing something that I know is not the most important task at that moment.
However, this whole situation demonstrated the limited nature of time and energy. It was plain for me to see: if I fail to do something first thing in the morning, there’s a big chance it won’t get done at all that day.
So, what are those most important tasks? While they will be different for everyone depending on where your business stands at the moment, here’s how I set my priorities:
1. Any paid work for existing clients. This one is obvious. This is something that helps me pay the bills and buy kitten formula. Besides, doing it first thing in the morning leaves plenty of time for other (sometimes more fun) stuff.
2. Marketing tasks. These include sending out CVs to agencies, researching books and apps I want to translate and getting in touch with developers and writers, as well as writing copy for my website and posts for this blog.
3. Other translation projects. I love what I do so much, that I sometimes translate even if I’m not getting paid for that. I do it on a regular basis for my I Love Mondays newsletter and sometimes take part in volunteer projects.
4. Admin tasks. This is my least favorite part of my business, but the one that can’t be left out. Doing paperwork for the bank, paying taxes, preparing reports, that sort of thing. Luckily, it rarely takes more than an hour a week.
5. Social media. It’s fun to hang out on Twitter. It can be a place to approach potential clients or just chat with colleagues. Sometimes it also becomes a great source of ideas for new posts. But if I don’t take care, social media can swallow up a lot of time.
3. Be flexible
It’s often tempting to ignore changes and limitations.
The first week we got the kittens I tried to stick to my pre-planned schedule. I was playing around with time-blocking technique and at first, I was determined to follow the color-coded agenda on my calendar to the t.
But it turned out to be impossible. Not if I wanted to feel well and do quality work. So some tasks had to go.
It was important to recognize it and not to beat myself up for this.
4. This too shall pass
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations when we can’t give our 100% to our work.
It can be frustrating, but this is something we have to accept.
It doesn’t mean that it will be like this forever, though. Life is changing. More often than not things change very fast. Sometimes even faster than we want them to.
So when the going gets tough, we just have to remind ourselves that it will pass and be kind to ourselves and people around us.
5. Limits can be a good thing
In spite of all the difficulties I have noticed an increase in my productivity over the past four weeks.
The main reason for this is that I stopped taking the time that I have for granted. I really felt its finiteness and it made me appreciate every minute and be mindful of how I spend the time I have.
Plus I started getting up early and it has mad a HUGE difference on how I feel during the day.
How to be a better writer, a workshop by Joshua Fields Millburn
Being a translator, I consider myself a writer. So when I learned that Joshua Fields Millburn, author of Everything That Remains, my favorite book of 2016, was going to conduct a two-hour long live workshop on October, 30, I decided to join.
The workshop covered a variety of topics ranging from how to build a writing habit to how to expand your vocabulary and where to find ideas for what to write about.
I was a bit disappointed, but that was because I listened to every The Minimalists podcast episode I could lay my hands on before the workshop, so there were not so many new things for me to learn.
I still think that it was totally worth the money for several reasons.
First, Joshua answered every question he got from the audience. It was clear that he was genuinely interested in what people asked him and enjoying the conversation with the viewers.
Second, the fact that I paid for the workshop made me finally apply some practical tips that I had heard before but hadn’t tried out. I will write more on that in future posts.
Finally, I realized that over the past year I’ve read so many articles and blog posts, listened to so many podcast episodes and watched so many webinars live and recorded, that I could probably write books on several topics connected with entrepreneurship. Yet my life hasn’t been completely overhauled. Why? Because knowing does not equal to doing.
Don’t get me wrong, I do a lot and I see some changes. But I think that sometimes the time I spend on learning, reading, and watching could be spent on doing, practicing and implementing. And this is probably the biggest takeaway from this workshop for me.