Every translator will suffer a bad translation day.
You might even have a bad week or a terrible month.
The trick is to get back up, dust yourself off, and keep going.
Here are 20 ways that I deal with bad days as a translator.
Maybe they all won’t help you. Maybe one of them will.
How to Deal with a Bad Translation Day
1. Take a walk
And not on a treadmill. Get outside. Even if you think it’s too hot or too cold. Getting outside does three things specifically. Gives you some fresh air. Gets the blood circulating. Provides a new perspective. Any of those three things can change your mood and get you out of the funk. All three of those things can really make a change.
2. Work on marketing
Or a different part of your business. Owning and operating a freelance translation business is more than just translating. If one aspect of your business is giving you headaches, close up that part for a bit and do something else. Build your website, for example.
3. Read a book
It doesn’t matter what kind of book you read. Could be a how-to book, a reference book, or a book to take your mind into fantasy land. Reading will open your mind to new possibilities, new ways of thinking, and recharge your mental batteries.
4. Do something physical
I make it a point to lift weights four days a week. It’s part of my routine. It’s probably the most important “meeting” I have because putting my body through a workout not only gives me confidence in the other areas of my life, but also clears my mind, helps me work through my problems, and gives me energy to tackle any issues I come across. Make it a part of your daily routine.
5. Go on a drive in the country
Driving has a power over us that is difficult to explain. When you sit behind the wheel of a car and can cruise along at a decent clip, you feel yourself moving forward, not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. Take a drive where there are few other cars. Roll your windows down and feel the air rejuvenate your body and mind.
6. Reach out to a colleague
The life of a freelance translator can be isolating. For most of us, that’s OK. It’s the life we’ve chosen because it’s the life we want. Even then, it’s important to remember that humans are social creatures. We need colleagues to encourage us. At the same time, we need to reach out to our friends that need our encouragement.
7. Create something
And make sure it’s something not related to translation. Make a new dessert. Go build something. Tackle that project you’ve been putting off “because of work.” The act of creating opens your mind to new possibilities and new ways of approaching your problems.
8. Take your kids to the park
Freelance translating takes up a lot of time. It can be difficult on our families as we try to build our business and make it profitable. Because of that, sometimes we forget about what really matters to us. Take some time to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing.
9. Spend some time at a charity
If you don’t have kids, or even if you do, spending time thinking of others and serving them can do wonders to reframe our perspective. There are a million different charities you can choose from. Volunteer. Give of yourself.
10. Send a thank you note to a former client
A thank you note will not only do good things for the person receiving the note, but will help you change your attitude from one of scarcity to one of abundance. And your customer/client will be surprised. In a good way.
11. Spend some time on a hobby
Your work should not be your life. You need to have activities in your life that expand your mind in different ways than your main business pursuits. Make time for those things that make you excited and which provide joy in your life.
12. Write down your thoughts
If you haven’t started keeping a journal, I’d highly recommend it. It doesn’t have to be a formal journal or a “dear diary” type of thing. Instead, it can be a couple of minutes each day recording your thoughts about anything. Do it on your phone, on your computer, or grab a pen and a notebook and do it old-school style. As you do, you’ll begin to have new insights, not only in life but with regards to your freelance translation business as well.
13. Listen to some music
I like to listen to all kinds of music. When we’re in a certain mood, we like to listen to certain kinds of music. Different kinds of music can create different moods within us. If you want to feel a certain way, put on music that will take you there. With YouTube, Spotify, and a million other streaming music options, there is no reason you can’t find something.
14. Watch a movie
If you really want to take your mind off of everything, including your work, take two hours of your day, go to the movie theater, grab some popcorn, and watch a movie. I don’t do this very often, but I will say I have done it. Especially when things get really crazy at work. I like sitting in the dark watching a movie. But most of all I like the popcorn.
15. Take a nap
Are you overworked? Are you waking up at 5:00 AM and going to bed at 12:00 midnight every single night? If so, you might need some rest. A good nap can really recharge your batteries. Now one nap isn’t going to solve your lack of sleep problem. But it will provide a chance to reset.
16. Change your work schedule
Every professional will tell you that their work schedule is the best and that everyone should follow it for maximum productivity. Everyone is different, though. You might do well to wake up early and work on your translation business first thing in the morning. But you might hate that actually. Maybe you do much better working into the late hours of the night and sleeping in late. Figure it out and do what works best for you.
17. Visit a senior citizen home
I love visiting with senior citizens. Their perspective and take on life is a lesson we could all learn from. Their understanding on what is important in life is something that is easy for us to forget. Not only will visiting with them help you have a more complete outlook on life, it will certainly brighten their day.
18. Eat some fruit
Are you eating like crap? Your eating habits seriously affect your mood, your attitude, and your energy levels. Eat healthy. Make sure you’re eating like an adult. Stay away from candy and soda and eat more fruits and vegetables. And make sure you’re drinking enough water.
19. Get out and be social
Talking to colleagues on the phone can help you deal with a bad day translating. But social interaction on a person-to-person level can help you immensely. And the interaction doesn’t have to be professional. Even talking to people at the local coffee shop will do wonders.
20. Recognize your blessings
Finally, recognize that you’ve been blessed more than you think. The fact that you even have a choice to be a freelance translator is a blessing not afforded to many, many people.
P.S. Looking to be more successful so you have less bad translation days? Try reading my books.