You won’t find any fun stories here. A translator’s work is repetitive, like in any other occupation. This can cause a lot of physical and mental tension and lead to various symptoms. If you haven’t experienced any of these symptoms, you’re probably very good at taking care of yourself. But, I think most translators have experienced them as I have. Over the next few posts, I will list some of these symptoms and suggest some ways to deal with them. In this post, I would like to talk about mental stress.
There are many kinds of stress that mental laborers face. Translators don’t experience the stress of dealing with people or the stress of having to commute, so they’re better off than other mental laborers, but translation work comes with unavoidable stress of its own. When a lot of projects come your way all at once, you’ll find yourself stressing over which project to work on first. You may even have to extend your working hours to the point that your life becomes a mess. Try using the following methods to decrease this stress (it will be difficult to get rid of it altogether)
1. Reduce the amount of translation work.
You may not like this method, but this is the most fundamental one. If you have more work than you can handle in one day, reject projects firmly. Accept an amount that you can handle. When you receive a project proposal, don’t just look at that, but refer to your project log as well. If there’s already too much on your log, you should reject new projects without hesitation. A translator’s career is a marathon, and you are the most important factor to successfully and enjoyably complete it. I’ve spoken about this before, but deciding what not to do is more difficult than deciding what to do. That’s why experienced translators are better than beginners at this. You must make these decisions for yourself. Think of it this way: be grateful that you can make these decisions, and no one else.
You may worry and think: “What if this client doesn’t come back to me if I reject this project?” But if you keep accepting projects whenever they come out of this fear, even translation projects that you could’ve enjoyed will become a difficult chore. If you want to work happily as a translator, you must know how to say no to new projects.
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There’s no need to justify your decision or feel apologetic to your client. Just briefly say: “I am currently working on a lot of other projects, so I cannot accept the project you’ve proposed. I’m sorry, but I hope you can find another translator.”
Agencies will regard translators who reject their projects this way as trustworthy. It gives the impression that this translator does not over-accept projects and produce low-quality work and that this translator has her own set standard and produces high-quality translation. Your clients will come to you again as long as you produce high-quality translations and work with your standards; in fact, agencies will compete one another for you. So don’t worry and feel free to reject projects. Of course, you should be polite and firm when you do.
Another possibility is to extend the deadline. I’ve mentioned this before in another post, but in most cases, agencies have at least some room for deadline extension. There’s a high chance they will ask you if you can take the project if the deadline is extended.
2. Write up a project log.
If you keep a project log, you’ll be able to see the volume of projects and deadlines all at the same time. This will allow you to manage all your projects at once and find out easily if you can take a new project. (Side note: if you cross a project off the list, you’ll gain a sense of satisfaction and visual clarity. Try it! It’s a great feeling.) This is a small method that may help you resolve stress.