Focus on the part, not the whole.

Keep Your Focus: Part Instead of the Whole

I’m a big fan of the Oblique Strategies by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. For those not familiar with these strategies, they are suggestions or aphorisms that these guys wrote down to help them approach various problems they encountered.

I’ve often found that these strategies are often insightful on how to run my language business.

Well the other day I ran across one of their suggestions:

Only a part; not the whole.

As I read this, I immediately thought of how easy it is sometimes for translators to get caught up in trying to improve every aspect of their business all at once and not really focusing on perfecting one thing at a time.

Anyone that has ever tried to run a translation business knows how much is actually required to not only get the business off the ground but to continue to keep it growing.

Translators who are just starting out soon realize that translation is only a small portion of a freelance translation business. Everything from building your client base to keeping track of the accounting to keeping up with what’s new in the translation industry constantly requires a translator’s attention.

It’s easy to see how a translator could be easily overwhelmed with everything that is supposed to be done.

So how can you as a translator overcome this avalanche of things you need to do to keep your business running? Well, back to the saying above: “Only a part; not the whole”

The key is to focus on one thing at a time.

The way I do this is by taking one aspect of my business and focusing on ways to improve the processes I am currently using for that particular part of the business.

I usually start out by choosing an aspect, such as marketing. I then figure out what I’m currently doing in that realm.

Maybe I’ve got my website up and running and am getting a steady stream of visitors. Well, then I decide what I can do to build on what I’ve already done. For instance, I might realize that I’ve haven’t directly contacted any translation agencies lately. I then find the best way to go about accomplishing that goal.

Then I just repeat the whole process for each of the areas I want to improve.

If you’re struggling with where you’re at right now in terms of your language business, think about picking up a set of Oblique Strategies and see how you they can help you change the way you’re currently thinking about your own strategy.


P.S. If you’re interested in more tips on how to become a successful freelance translator, be sure to pick up my book.

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