Bad translation day

Being a Professional Translator: How to Deal with a Bad Day

Whether you work for a professional translation agency, or do most of your work as a freelancer, it’s bound to happen sooner or later.

Yep, the infamous “bad day.”

Bad days can be caused by a whole host of issues.

Maybe you went to bed on the bad side of the bad and couldn’t shake that feeling during the night and you wake up feeling the same way.

Maybe the day started out fine but then something happened and changed your mood.

Whatever causes it, it will eventually come if it hasn’t already.

As many of you know, I’ve worked both as an in-house translator and as a freelancer and I’ve had off days on both sides of the industry. It can be tough to deal with these types of days but there are some things than can help you overcome the bad feelings and make changes so that it doesn’t last for too long.

Focus on what you CAN do

A lot of times, stuff that is out of our control is what makes us feel less than stellar.

But the reality is that we can’t control the things we can’t control. So there’s no use in worrying about them.

Instead, we should focus on the things we do have control over. Not only will focusing on those things help us feel as if we are actually doing something about our situation, but it will also help us realize what we should in fact be paying attention to.

Take a break

Whether you work as an in-house translator or a freelancer translator, make sure you take breaks.

Oftentimes I get to working and forget to get up and stretch or walk around. I might not feel it right at the beginning, but I can tell at the end of the day that I haven’t taken a break and it when my body feels bad, my mood turns bad. (That’s why health is so important.)

I think that not taking breaks is one of worst things that we can do.

None of us is capable of working non-stop at peak performance. It’s especially important to do when we have important tasks we’re trying to accomplish.

If you’re interested in this idea of the power of knowing when to do things and when to take breaks, you should read When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect TimingIt’s a great book that will change the way you think about the power of timing.

Remember the why

A lot of people are forced into having a career or doing a job that they don’t want to do. Most translators love languages and love to translate. If you work in the translation industry, remember that you’ve got something not many others have, a love for what you do.

When we focus too much on the trivial day-to-day things and get bogged down with the minutiae in our personal or professional lives, it is easier to experience those bad days.

However, when we remember the “why” of our decisions, the reason why we’re on the pat we are, and we see that big picture, then it’s easier to overcome those bad days.

Eat some ice cream

…or something that makes you smile. Sometimes I just need to take my mind off what’s putting me in a bad mood and taking a walk just doesn’t cut it. That’s when I go and make myself a glass of chocolate milk. Nothing puts a smile on my face like chocolate milk does.

Figure out what little pleasure puts a smile on your face and use that when you’re feeling down, depressed, or not in a good mood.

It doesn’t have to be anything big as long as it can help to get your mind off your difficulties for the moment and put you back on track.


There are a ton of different things that can put us, as translators, in a bad mood. We’ve got clients that are late on payments, translations that are giving us problems, lack of work, distractions at home or in the office, etc. No matter what the reason, being in a bad mood is not very conducive to providing professional translation services. The faster we can get out of the funk, the faster we can get back to doing what we love…translating!

P.S. For more tips and insight on becoming a professional translator, read my book.

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