Five Feel-Good Tips to Beat Translation Procrastination

  • 1) Don’t fight it. Treat yourself.

Most of us belong to a select group of people that get to work from home in our pyjamas. Enjoy it. Make the most of it! Live a little!
Have a beer with your lunch from time to time, get up and make yourself a hot chocolate whenever you feel like it, eat pizza while you translate.
In short, do whatever you like as long as it helps make your document seem less dreary and gets you through the day.

  • 2) Do something useful (i.e. work-related) instead.

Read The Chicago Manual of Style. Blog. (Don’t blog about reading The Chicago Manual of Style, though – I do that here.)
Spend ten minutes replying to those non-urgent work emails gathering dust in your inbox. Or curl up in a chair and read the next novel you’d like to translate.

  • 3) Set yourself realistic targets and stick to them.

I begin most days with a figure in mind. I say to myself, “If I can get 2,000 words done today, I’ll be happy.” Some days it’s 1,500. But once I hit my figure, it might be 4 p.m., it might be lunchtime. And then I call it a job well done and go upstairs and see my family.

  • 4) Say to hell with it (from time to time).

You’re your own boss. Maybe not all the time, but if you’re a translator, chances are you freelance at least some of the time.
So set your own rules. If you find yourself nodding off in the afternoon, why not start work an hour earlier when you find it easier to concentrate?
If you’re constantly wondering what you might be missing on breakfast television, why not work your routine around it (or even have it on in the background, if it won’t destroy your concentration)?
And on the days when you’re just not getting it done, pack up early and go have lunch with a friend, take a walk – or just call it a day and promise yourself you’ll be more focused tomorrow.

  • 5) Ask yourself if this is really what you want to do with your life?

If you find yourself fighting like a baby who refuses to nap every time you sit down at the keyboard, maybe this isn’t the job (or, more likely, the client) for you.
Maybe you don’t feel challenged enough. Perhaps you’re in over your head and shouldn’t say yes to any more legal documents.
Maybe it’s time to find something less boring to do instead. We all need to pay the rent, but remember: you make the rules.