Beware. This is not an informational, useful, full-of-tips post. This is a personal story. I will talk about blogging and Twitter, but for once I won’t try to convince you to do any of them. It’s not complaining either, even though it might look like it 🙂
Fellow translators often ask me, either in person or in interviews: “How do you find time to work when you seem to be blogging or tweeting all the time?” Or the opposite. I usually smile and reply in a way as to encourage other people to blog or tweet as well, i.e. “It doesn’t take that long to find stuff to tweet, just a few hours every weekend maybe”.
I am a full-time translator and co-owner of a translation company. I maintain the company website and write regularly for our translation blog. I’m active on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google+. What do all these roles entail?
Translating and editing on a daily basis
I’m good at what I do and popular with my clients. So, they keep me busy, usually very busy. Since I love my job, I almost never say no to some regular projects that I enjoy the most. I’m not a workaholic (although I think I’m close), I enjoy downtime and relaxing, but there’s rarely time for that.
Replying to emails
As a translator: potential work, ongoing projects, queries and post-delivery notes from clients, invoicing queries, first-time contact etc. I’m also a helpful person, so my clients email me to ask other stuff too, i.e. we need a translator in a different language pair; do you know any translation salespeople; I need a Greek interpreter.
As a company owner: CVs and applications from translators (sadly, most of those emails are either very bad or obviously spam, so I delete them), questions and requests for advice from translators, networking (emails about events, non-translation associations etc.) and accounting (although we outsource, there are always questions and clarifications…).
As a blogger and active social media user: requests for interviews, invitations to connect, new followers to check, blog comments to moderate and reply to and submissions for guest posts.
I do my best to reply quickly to all the aforementioned emails, at least when I leave the office in the evening I try to have no unanswered emails. Translation work emails also mean downloading the files, checking the analysis, logging the project and sending a confirmation email to the client. I leave the office late in the evening (9pm) and come fairly early in the morning (8am) and there are 10-20 new emails to reply in the morning, how is that possible? Yes, I know it’s because my clients are based all over the world, but still… I won’t even mention the number of emails to take care of during the workday.
I’ve tried all kinds of methods; Pomodoro, Pareto, checking emails every hour etc. Emails still pile up and take up a lot of my time. Goes with the territory though, right?
You have probably noticed that apart from the Favorites, I haven’t been very active in article-writing as of recent months. I have so many ideas, but no time to write about them. I can rarely write during a workday (this post is one of the exceptions), I need the calmness of the weekend to focus and express myself. But the weekends should also be spent with the hubby and my cat babies. So, the ideas stay in my head.
Our blog is updated every Thursday with a new post though, guest posts by colleagues or other writers who chose us to showcase their content. When I first created the Guest Posts tab in our blog, I wasn’t expecting so many people would like to write for us. It’s a blessing whichever way you see it. People write about different topics, the blog is updated with new content regularly and you meet new people. However, it also takes time. To choose the bloggers and posts, check online if they’ve been published before, proofread the articles, and then prepare them in WordPress.
If you think I’m going to share the exact amount of time I spend browsing on Twitter and Facebook and blog-reading to find tweetable content and then schedule my tweets, you’ll be disappointed. I honestly don’t know how many hours it takes each week and even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you to avoid discouraging you from using Twitter or reading translation blogs. I’ll just focus on a few facts: I am subscribed to over 200 translation blogs, about 50 freelancing and social media blogs, plus a few blogs about travel and other topics (but the latter publish a ton of articles daily). I love reading the blogs but it’s very time-consuming. I wish I had more time to enjoy them more and maybe comment in the posts I find most interesting.
Marketing & networking
I try. Not hard enough, but I do, honest. I tell myself that blogging and social media are part of that (which is true, but the stuff I share are mostly for translators than direct clients). So, I only attend a few events per year. BUT they are truly very time-consuming. The pre-event preparation: checking the attendees, finding your ideal clients, preparing your pitch (and don’t forget choosing an outfit and having your hair/nails done for us women). Then, the event itself means at least half a day out of the office, which amounts to a mountain of emails when you return. Finally, the business card sorting, follow-up emails and interminable to-do stuff to do after the conference. I won’t even mention out-of-town events and traveling. I need 2 weeks of working like crazy before a trip to make up for a few out of office days and then at least a month to deal with the emails and things to do when I get back. Nuff said.
Today is a busy day and I stopped my work mid-afternoon (will pay for this later when I leave the office at 10pm again tonight) to write this post because I wanted to get all this off my chest and share my daily insane things-to-do list with like-minded people. 1,033 words later I realize that this ranting would actually be considered as procrastination but I feel better now so it was well worth it 🙂
As a final statement, I’ll reiterate this: I’m not complaining. I love doing all the above (schmoozing with potential clients not so much but I’ll get over my insecurities at some point and enjoy it as well). I wouldn’t change my fascinating profession and insane daily life for anything.
Btw, this is the first title I thought of when I started writing this post: There’s never enough time, a.k.a. I need a clone or two… Do you like it more than the title I used? And more importantly: Would you like a clone too? What’s your crazy everyday reality like? Have you achieved the infamous work-life balance yet?
If you feel like writing your story as a guest post, I’d be happy to publish it in our blog. Just send it to me by email.
Oh how I feel you! It is so difficult to juggle all this stuff some days but, still, i wouldn’t change my job for anything (I think!). I would just love to have some more free time! Well, at least it’s nice to share the stress somedays and YES! I would love a clone! She would have to stay in the office though, and I would be at the beach 🙂
Hehehe, I’d be at the beach too and reading books and traveling without computers and and and and…
That’s my line “I need a clone or two!” I was actually thinking that now with the advent of the 3D printer, I might succeed in getting one :o) Will let you know.
Publishing online becomes a lot easier to do when you have and know how to use available technology. All the share applications, programs that allow you to download whole websites for later offline research, online image manipulation software, etc. make the work less time consuming. LESS. It is still time consuming, but it is such a pleasure at the same time that it is worth while taking the time to plan ahead to do this job.
And thank you, Catherine, for bringing such interesting articles to us.
Yes, keep me posted, we’ll start a small clone factory 🙂 Regarding technology, new efficient time-saving tools are developed every day and they do work, but at the same time our to-do things are multiplied by many times every year, how is that possible?? I was thinking about the Amish the other day. Their no fuss lives look very enticing sometimes, but the main thing I would miss without social media etc. is meeting great people and making friends. The same with my life before site/blog/sm. I also used to work 12-14 hours daily back then, almost exclusively translating and making more money than I do now actually, and I can’t say it was lonely because Christos was always with me, but it’s so much more interesting and fulfilling now!!
I like your chosen title. Amazing what you take care of all the time. I am not yet so far and I think it was a good idea not to start a blog of my own, reading all this. 😉
Congratulations to get everything so well done!!! Readers and followers wonder, but to read your story is very impressive. And the message does not get lost: It IS possible and it IS worth it!
Excellent, that’s what I wanted readers to get; it’s definitely worth it, all of it because it’s so much fun (apart from the other benefits of course such as networking, branding etc.)!! It just becomes overwhelming from time to time 🙂
I can truly empathize! As the owner of a successful translation business myself, I constantly find myself walking the tightrope between administration, networking, follow-ups, prospecting… and of course, let’s not forget, getting the work done 🙂 I’m fortunate enough to have an assistant, who takes on much of the admin work, allowing me to breathe much easier and focus on where my talents and interests lie: translation and growing the company through social media. I am new to the blogging scene; I enjoy yours a great deal, it is an inspiration! Keep calm and carry on!
Thank you very much for your kind words Ann Marie, I’m glad you like our blog (I just subscribed to yours, will discover it during the weekend). My translation partner and husband, Christos, is great help too; he takes care of everything that needs to be done outside the office plus the tax/accounting stuff. I’d love an assistant to take care of emails and project management but I’m too worried mistakes will be done. Plus (much to Christos’ dismay) I still see myself as a freelancer, not a translation company. Maybe when I grow up, I’ll have tons of assistants and I’ll be able to spend my days at the beach (won’t give up translating though, I’ll just bring the laptop with me. Oh and Twitter. And blogging! Nah, doesn’t look like that will happen anytime soon, better to keep doing everything myself…) 🙂
I think most people in our line of work will find themselves in your description.
It would be nice indeed to have a clone (or a few actually). Not that I’m complaining, I love what I do, and I have help as well, but it wouldn’t hurt having more time for reading and writing. However, I still make sure that I read for at least half an hour before I go to sleep – it’s my little addiction.
The bottom line is that as long as you love what you do, no matter how tiring it can be at times, it’s worth it. And finding time to spend with your loved ones in all this ‘organised chaos’ is essential.
As for the title, I vote for ‘There’s never enough time, a.k.a. I need a clone or two…’ – a matter of personal taste, of course.
Thanks for giving us such a personal insight in how you master the daily challenges of a busy translator and business owner. It was a real pleasure to read. I have to disagree with your beginning statement, though: I found your post quite informative and by describing what you do – you actually gave some tips on how to successfully run a business 🙂
I preferred the title you used, by the way – oh, and for the clone thing: I order two, please! 😉
@Alina Love the expression ‘organised chaos’, so accurate for a translator’s daily life 🙂
@Petra Thank you very much for your kind words. If you see my previous posts (except from the Weekly Favorites of course), you’ll see that I’m a big fan of writing how-to posts using lists. That’s why I thought this wasn’t that kind of post. It felt liberating writing it though and sharing it with people who go through the same stuff every day 🙂