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Work From Home Like a Pro: Translator’s Edition

The first few days after the pandemic was announced, most of us were busy adjusting to the ‘new normal.’ Let’s be honest – at first, it seemed quite relaxing – no rushed breakfasts, no formal clothes, and no tiring commutes.

We tried to make the best out of this situation by embracing home cooking, gardening, indoor yoga, music, online learning, etc. But then, gradually, the reality of working from home started to kick in.

When English radio host and television celebrity Roman Kemp asked the Twitterati to tell the world about their work from home fails, people shared some of the most hilarious incidents.

Well, you know what they say about spilt coffee….

Not her cat’s finest moment, eh?

Warning: This stunt was performed under great stress and hurry.

#KidsWillBeKids: Ever called off a meeting due to some ‘nail varnish’ emergency?

While all of us were struggling (rather bravely) to make this situation work, there were some who sat back with a smug look on their faces saying, “Welcome to my world.” So, we thought, why not look at the pros for some inspiration – the translators who have been at it for a long time, whether it’s rushing to meet deadlines or keeping the kids engaged and fed at all times.

Embrace the flexibility

One primary concern everyone has had since the pandemic was the lack of mobility and social interaction. However, working from ‘home’ doesn’t necessarily mean that work must happen at home. A little change of scene and environment will help you boost your creativity and motivation.

And if you’re up for it, you can become a digital nomad too – someone who earns a living digitally and is always on the move. Like Sandra advised, ensure that wherever you go are connected well with everyone through a strong Wifi connection and charged devices. If you can’t travel out of town, a work session at a cafe or on a bench in the park can also prove to be refreshing.

What’s the opposite of a couch potato?

Depending on the kind of office commute you had, you were either navigating the streets while walking, hopping in and out of subways, cycling, driving, climbing up staircases, etc. This physical activity kept your body agile and your mind sharp. Now that you are working from home for the foreseeable future, you must make a conscious effort to exercise.

While some of us can wake up early in the morning and sweat it out in a gym, the rest of us don’t have that luxury. However, going to a gym isn’t the only form of exercise. Many freelance translators have found yoga to be quite helpful. Similarly, there are online groups of Zumba enthusiasts who conduct sessions via video calls.

Look how Kate, a translator based out of Manchester, makes the most of her breaks by taking a short walk.

#WorkFromHomeBurnOut? Give yourself a break.

The entire premise of work from home is based on connectivity and availability. Going to the office allowed you to keep your work and personal space separate – logging out of your system marked the end of your day. When working from home, these boundaries tend to get a little blurred. So, you must fix your working hours and try to stick to them.

Breaks, whether short or long, are like reboot systems for our minds and bodies. From a coffee break to a weekend off – breaks can help you rejuvenate and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Turn off your email notifications, log out of your system, and forget about work for a while. When setting deadlines, account for these breaks and communicate them to your superiors, clients, or customers.

#WorkFromHomeParent? No kidding.

I know a teacher whose 6-year-old kid was seen walking around screaming “boring!” during one of her online lectures. If you’ve been put in such comprising situations by your kids, you’re not alone. With many parents working from home and the schools still being shut, it’s challenging to keep the kids engaged. And it’s confusing for the kids, too – seeing daddy sitting with his laptop on the couch in his pyjamas gives them mixed signals.

All they need is a little bit of training. Just the way you set your schedules, you must sit down with them and create a schedule for them too. In the free time they get after attending their online classes and doing their homework, you can involve them in little chores and creative projects.

Assigning a space in your home as your workspace helps in creating boundaries for the kids. Look how Sandra’s daughter understood that she shouldn’t disturb her mommy when she is in her office.

#Deadlines: Can’t meet, won’t meet.

Deadlines have a whole new meaning when you’re working from home. Kids pretending to be superheroes in the next room, grandma watching the telly on the highest volume, mom offering you food every ten minutes, siblings making weird noises in the background – many things are distracting you from work. Not that there weren’t any distractions when you worked in your company’s office. However, at home, it is more challenging to control situations and people.

Well, short naps do help. 🙂 Analyse the pace at which you can work efficiently now and see if you can adjust your deadlines accordingly. Many of our translators set short-term and long-term deadlines for themselves. It is easy to put short-term deadlines into action. For instance, if you know you need to email a presentation to your boss by the end of the day tomorrow, you’ll divide your time and tasks accordingly. However, with long-term deadlines, you must ensure that you assign some time for that task or project every day. This way you won’t be rushing at the last minute.

Pro-tip: If your work is mainly creative – writing, designing, strategising, etc. – try to find unique ideas and innovative solutions by being observant. For instance, I love watching Netflix shows and movies. When you read through some of the blogs I have authored here, you’ll see that I’ve used many examples of Netflix shows and movies to explain subtitling and translation concepts. Just because you’re restricted to your home doesn’t mean you will stop getting good ideas.

In conclusion

This has been a difficult time for all of us and our loved ones. While all freelance translators living in different regions of the world are adept at working from home, they never imagined that one day every one of us would be forced to do the same. They, too, have been facing the same challenges – lesser pay, increasing medical expenses, no household help, homeschooling kids, etc. We admire their resilience and the fact that they continue to be the pillars of our communities.

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