5 ways translators can take time out

By Nicola Thayil

Translators can easily fall into the trap of sitting at the computer for ten hours a day or more! This is detrimental to our health and well-being. Putting in place habits to make time for yourself will allow you to experience greater gratitude, happiness and meaningful interactions in both your professional and personal life.

Here are five ways that translators can take time out to look after themselves.

1. Movement

Time out for movement. Our bodies are made to move. Translators sitting down all day at a computer can easily develop poor posture. Over time, this can have serious negative effects not only physically but mentally because the way we carry ourselves can shape the way we think.

It’s essential to get moving at least once a day to loosen your joints, improve blood flow and to help cope with stress. Movement to manage stress is important. When we feel stressed or anxious our body produces the hormone cortisol and exercise can help to release this hormone. How we deal with our stress shapes who we are and our mindset. So get up and get moving, improve your health and confidence!

2. Mindfulness

Time out for mindfulness. Freelance translators juggle so many different tasks during the day, from admin and invoicing to translating, proofreading and responding to emails. This can be overwhelming at times. Innumerable studies have shown that we can benefit from a mind that knows how to slow down and focus.

For example, simply being aware of your surroundings and taking the time to focus on your breath allow you to be mindful. Mindfulness meditation is also a great way to take time out. This can be as simple as sitting for five minutes and counting your in and out breaths, observing your thoughts but not dwelling on them, continually bringing your focus back to your breath.

If you make an effort to meditate every day you will improve with practice. Mindfulness meditation widens the gap between stimulus and response, allowing you to react with care rather than emotion. If something happens, you will be better able to step back and respond with the big picture in mind.

3. Journaling

Translators are writers! I am a firm believer that if we want to write better we need to read more, but we also need to write! Journaling is a great way to step away from the screen, pick up a pen and to reflect, be creative, unwind and set intentions. Take a notebook and write down how you are feeling, draw pictures, let your ideas and gratitude flow. It may be uncomfortable at first, anything that helps us to grow usually is, but you will improve your writing skills and grow.

4. Meal Preparation

Translators often don’t think about what they are going to eat, their focus is on the next deadline and getting the work done. The risk is that when we decide to eat, it’s usually something quick and potentially unhealthy. When we are hungry we don’t have the patience to turn ingredients into food so we choose the easiest and most convenient option which is usually not the healthiest.

Instead, think about how you can make the healthy options convenient. Cut up fruit, prepare snap lock bags with nuts or plan your meals for the week. You will soon notice the difference as you will be eating healthy nourishing food and you will be free of decision fatigue, giving you more mental energy to concentrate on your translation work.

5. Me time

Freelance translators often work from home and the lines between personal and professional life are often blurred. The problem is, there is often no time left to look after yourself. Me time is different for everyone but it’s just as important for everyone, including translators.

You might like to take a bath, have a cup of tea, go for a walk or get a massage, whatever it is take time out for yourself to relax and refresh. You will feel better, be more productive and ready to deal with what your inbox throws at you!

Nicola Thayil is a professional French to English translator and conference interpreter based in Melbourne, Australia. She has been practicing since 2013 after completing a Masters of Interpreting and Translation Studies at Monash University. Nicola specialises in legal, marketing and business texts, drawing on over five years' experience in marketing, as well as a background in international business. She also authors a translation blog here

Published: 22/11/2016