Value Your Time as a Freelance Translator

How to Value Your Time as a Freelance Translator

Do you waste time?

The answer is probably yes.

Especially if you’re like every other person on the planet.

We all waste some time. And for the most part, that’s ok. We need time to relax, to recharge, and to sometimes just take a break.

I would say that this in and of itself isn’t time wasting because it’s time we need to later perform better.

However, there are instances when you know that you are definitely wasting time. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Spending an hour or more scrolling through your Facebook or Instagram feed
  • Watching uninspired TV for any length of time
  • Coming home from work or finishing your work for the day and drowning your stresses in alcohol and media
  • Napping for hours every day
  • Scrolling through Pinterest or Amazon and thinking about all the things you want to buy

We as translators are not exempt from having these feelings. I don’t waste time on Facebook. But I do spend more time on Twitter than I should and I am working to overcome that.

In order to not waste time, though, there are some principles you should understand. These will help you first recognize the time that you are wasting and then help you to change those time-wasting periods to times of production.

No sense of urgency

You can’t be a frantic stress case running around like a crazy person every day. We all know those types of people and they will die before they turn 40 from all the stress.

However, having a healthy sense of urgency in the things that you do for your benefit is essential to making sure that you spend time on things that need be done.

You can manufacture this feeling of urgency by giving yourself a deadline. If you have a hard time getting motivated to get things done, then it makes sense to set deadlines for even the smallest tasks.

I had a written the first draft of my book, Translator Rules, in a few months. But then I let it sit. For months. I would always tell myself that I needed to finish it. But just telling myself that didn’t produce any results. Finally, on February 1st, I set a deadline. The book had to be edited, a Kindle cover had to be created, and the book had to be uploaded and for sale on Amazon by the last day of the month. And guess what? I made the deadline. The book was uploaded on February 26 and is now available for sale.

So set deadlines.

Fooling yourself into thinking you
want something (when you really don’t)

Do you really want to be a translator?

Or do you think you want to be one because you’re in love with the idea of being your own boss and working for yourself?

There are lots of way to make money online or by working for yourself. Being a professional translator is just one of the ways.

There’s an easy way to tell. If you find any excuse to not work on your translation business then maybe it’s not for you.

And that’s OK. If you really don’t want to be one, don’t. Don’t live the life someone else has dreamed up for you. Do what you want to do.

You have one life. Don’t waste time doing something that you ultimately don’t want.

Not finding what works for yourself

It can take a while to find success.

But just because it takes time does not mean that you’re wasting it.

However, it is wasting time if you fail to learn along the road to success.

Ultimately, the way we become successful is by continuing to experiment, try new things, see what works and what doesn’t, and then do more of what does.

But what works for me won’t necessarily work for you.

What worked for your friend could be a terrible path for you.

Don’t follow someone else’s path thinking that you will mirror their steps exactly.

You have to find out what works for you.

Taking advice without implementing action

I’ve been guilty of this my whole life and I still struggle with it.

Other people call it the

ready -> aim… ready -> aim… ready -> aim…


Always reading books, looking for advice, trying to understand the “why” without ever actually doing anything.

The reason this is a time waster is because you never really get anything done. You’re thinking about getting stuff done. You’re planning on getting stuff done. You even make lists and charts about how you’re going to get stuff done.

But that’s as far as you get.

Seeking out advice and learning new things to help your translation business grow is not bad. But never implementing that advice does nothing to help you, and in the end will waste more time than you imagine.

Failing to set up a process

A person with a plan will tend to have more success than a person without one.

That’s because a person with a plan has a map of where he’s been, where he’s at, and where he wants to go.

The man without a plan knows none of that.

After you set up a plan, you need a process for implementing that plan.

It’ doesn’t have to be complicated, you don’t need special software, and you don’t need to read 27 books on how to do it (see the point above).

All you need is 1 hour every week. I prefer Sunday.

Sit down during that hour with a pen and paper. Plan your week. Define a process for implementing that plan.

My activities during the week are constantly changing so I modify my processes weekly. Sometimes, those processes will include waking up early to accomplish some aspect of my business. Sometimes it will call for staying up late.

Define your plan for the week, then figure out how to accomplish that plan. Your time wasted will be cut in half at least.

Failure to make success a goal/focus

Finally, decide what you want.

If it’s a hobby, then fine. You can waste time.

But if you want real success in your freelance translation work, make that success your focus.

I can’t tell you how to do that. We all prioritize things differently in our lives.

But I can say that our priorities are what we spend the most time and energy doing.

If you’re spending two hours a night watching The Walking Dead reruns, then I know where your priorities are.

And if that’s a priority, fine. I’m not one to judge that. But don’t expect to have the same level of success as someone who puts in the work, makes sacrifices, and has that success as a goal and prioritized focus.

P.S. If you want success as a freelance translator but don’t know where to focus your energy, read my book.

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