DITL: Day in the Life

Given the current circumstances in Britain, with everyone stockpiling and panic buying, leaving food shops short of essentials, I have decided to postpone my #ThatTranslatorCanCook posts for the time being…or at least until I can find recipes that use baked beans and home-grown vegetables! So, instead, I will be posting regularly on life as a translator, language learning and all things freelance! So, in light of that, I thought it might be interesting to look at what a typical DITL (Day in the Life) of a freelance translator looks like!

Last month, I did a DITL over on Instagram stories and the day itself was pretty typical of how my average days go as a freelancer, so I thought I’d look at the day in more depth here!

8:00am
This is when my alarm goes off these days, since I swapped my hours over to start at 10am. My husband either brings me a coffee if it’s the holidays, or he has left one on my bedside table if he’s already left for work. I drink it leisurely while checking my professional social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) and trying to wake up and feel less groggy. If I have time, I even spend half an hour reading.

9.30am
I’m usually out of bed by this time (yes, it genuinely takes me this long to wake up in the morning!) and dressed and brushed my teeth. My first job of the day is to then feed our lovely little guinea pigs. If I’m well organised, then I’ll have prepared their vegetables the night before, if not I’ll do them on the day.

10am
Once I’m all dressed and ready and have fed the pigs, I head back upstairs (normally with a second coffee or a cup of tea and maybe some breakfast) and load up my laptop. I usually deal with any pressing emails first, make a plan for the day and then get on with whatever paid jobs I have lined up. I normally have a couple on the go, so I start with whatever needs finishing first. On this particular day, I had two translations from French into English to complete so started with the one that was due the same day. I’ve actually moved away from the time blocking system I was using and now just make a To Do list on my whiteboard. I allow myself up to 5-6 jobs each day, depending on how long I estimate each task will take. If I’m feeling particularly slow-going, I set a pomodoro timer for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break and repeat until I get up to speed and can work for longer bursts. This morning work slot usually lasts for two to three hours and can be spent on one or more tasks (depending on their length); copy-writing, copy-editing, proofreading, French to English translation or Arabic to English translation.

12.30pm
This is when I usually stop for lunch. I take 45 minutes off and usually have leftovers or something quick and easy to make, like a packet pasta. Since my birthday, when my parents gave me a toastie maker, I often have cheese toasties for lunch! I also watch some tele and then do any washing up from lunch.

1.15pm
I settle back down to work. I will also usually put our guinea pigs out, either in a pen in our lounge or outside if the weather’s fair, so that they can stretch their legs and have a play. I normally start with something easy, like some vocabulary practice on Duolingo and then move onto any paid jobs I have left. I will also check my emails again. If I have finished all my client work and translations, then I do some CPD (like Deutsche Welle’s Nicos Weg course, reading a novel in French or working my way through Al-Kitaab), some marketing (such as planning social media posts) or making new connections on LinkedIn and applying to new agencies and marketing to direct clients.

3.30pm
This is when I like to go out for a walk. I find it helps to break up the long afternoon, get me out and active in the fresh air and allows me to wake up a bit in the mid-afternoon slump. I’ve recently taken up running again, but I tend to do this first thing in the morning, when my motivation to do it is at its highest!

6pm
This is when I usually finish up working, translation jobs permitting. If I have an urgent job to finish, then I will work later, but I prefer to keep my evenings free for rest, time with my husband, TV and personal projects. I always finish my day by writing the next day’s To Do list on my whiteboard.

6.30pm
Either my husband or I, or sometimes both of us, will make dinner at this time and settle down to watch a few hours of tele. I might also have a bath if I particularly want to relax!

9pm
This is when my husband and I tend to head up to bed, because we both like reading. It educates, but it also helps to relax the mind and keeps us away from screens right before bed!

10.30pm
This is when I normally turn my lights out, because I like to ensure I get 8-9 hours sleep to make sure that I am refreshed for the work I need to do in the morning.

There we have it – a day in the life of a freelance translator! Is it what you were expecting? If you’re a freelancer, does it look like your day’s work? Let me know in the comments or contact me via social media!

Next time, I will be reflecting on my first year as a freelance translator and what I have learned!

Published by verityroat

Verity Roat BA CANTAB MA TRANSLATION CIOL Career Associate is a Norfolk-based Arabic and French > English translator and languages tutor.

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