Work Overload: Managing Work and Stress as Translators

In every line of work, there are periods of time when there is too much work to do and little time to do it in. Stress levels tend to soar at such times, and they become much higher than those of everyday work-related stress. Here are a few tips that will help you avoid such situations if possible and, in case such situations come up anyway, manage stress levels to keep yourself from burning out.

Preventing Work Overload

  • Time Management

In many cases, work overload does not come up due to inability to get the work done, but due to inability to organize the work in a way that it can be done efficiently. This is why it is important to make a schedule. If you are a freelance translator, evaluate the approximate time you believe will be necessary to complete a project, enter this project into a time slot of your schedule and then accept it. It is important to plan your work, otherwise it will make plans for you.

If you do not determine deadlines for yourself, you will most likely unnecessarily stretch out the task at hand to the deadline determined by the client, even though you could have completed the task sooner. Maybe you’ll work slower, double check terminology you had already researched, proofread several times, etc. All of this is fine if you have time, but it usually yields very little results.

The first terminology check was sufficient, the first proofreading removed all the errors and you just lost an additional hour or two correcting your own style. Make your own deadline, complete the translation and move on.

work overload-deadline

  • Say No

Translators tend to accept all the work they can get, mostly due to fear of not finding work in the upcoming period. This can make translators work from dawn ‘till dusk, and from dusk ‘till dawn again. It may have financial benefits, but it can be detrimental to your health in the long run. A good method for handling this is determining a maximum daily word count that will be your daily limit. Most translators set a number of 2000 to 3000 words a day, but you can decide on whatever you’re most comfortable with.

Stress Management

  • Unplug

Modern technology is a double-edged sword. Having a small device that allows you to always keep in touch with other people is both a curse and a blessing. It makes you available at all times, and this is usually not a good thing, especially if you’re a freelancer.

Getting emails on new tasks can cause stress even though it’s obvious there’s more than enough time to meet your deadline. That’s why it’s good to complete your work and unplug. Plan your deadlines and arrange other activities later on; that way you’ll work efficiently, finish your work within the deadline you’ve set for yourself and engage in other activities you enjoy later on.

  • Have Faith in the Quality of Your Work

I’ve briefly touched on this already, however it seems important to emphasize it. Rechecking and checking your translation again often yields very little or no benefits. It is also a very strenuous activity that requires high levels of concentration and can occasionally be time consuming. If you’ve got a decent amount of experience, check as you translate, proofread your text once and move on. That being said, you’re bound to make mistakes at some point; decide to be humble at such times, apologize and fix the issue.

Although the work of a translator is stressful at times, it’s also quite rewarding. It encourages you to read, learn and adapt, enriches your vocabulary and expands your general knowledge. It teaches you to read between the lines and get at the heart of any matter.

When it comes to managing your workload, we recommend that you make your own schedule, work efficiently and refuse job offers when you are overwhelmed. When it comes to managing stress it’s best to work effectively, stop constantly doubting yourself and unplug after you complete your work.

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