On cabin fever and the joys of freelancer friends

Cafe - Sized

When I tell people that I work from home, the general reaction is “lucky you! I wish I could!” After all, what’s not to like? No horrible commute at the crack of dawn, no awkward water-cooler chat with acquaintances about how everyone’s weekend was, and you can make important business decisions without anyone but you knowing that you are, secretly, still in your pyjamas.

The downside of it, of course, is that it can be pretty lonely. When your commute doesn’t involve leaving the house, it can be harder to establish a working routine. In fact, I’ve heard of some people trying various methods to get into a ‘going to work’ state of mind, including taking a ‘commute’ around the block first thing in the morning to make it feel like a walk to work – and I even know one man who still wears a full suit and tie, even when he’s working from home all day and no-one else sees it!

At my previous job, I really enjoyed working in an office environment. I liked having someone to sit next to and chat with, bounce ideas off of, comment on funny/ridiculous e-mails that we had received, and having multiple people around whom you could ask for advice if you needed it. I think that this is equally important when you are a freelancer, and although it’s easy to do so when we get caught up in a translating/working frenzy, we should try not to isolate ourselves.

Thanks to the joys of Facebook, Twitter, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, and my local Chamber of Commerce, I have come to know a great network of translators, who live both near me and in far-flung places, and it’s comforting to know that not only are there people out there who share your passions, but those who have encountered the same problems and obstacles as you throughout the course of their career, and are happy to offer solutions or advice.

I’m really glad that if I have a dilemma or even a translation-related question that I’m stuck with, I can post in Proz or Standing Out and someone will almost always have the answer. Or, if I have a question or something on my mind that I feel is a bit too stupid to post publicly (and I’m happy to admit, I do have them!), I also have some closer colleagues I can message who I know won’t judge me, and we’ll help each other out.

And above all, when I feel like I’m developing cabin fever and I realise I’ve actually been talking to myself for the past two hours, there are translators in the same city as me who I can meet for coffee, so we can get away from our desks and talk about…well, anything, but probably mostly work! I can also pop along to a networking event, and get an insight into other people’s work and industries, learn something new, and maybe make a few new contacts.

It really helps to have another person’s perspective, and I think this in turn helps us to work better, problem-solve better, and ultimately provide a better service to our clients.

So, I guess I wrote this to give a shout-out to all the translators (and non-translator-fellow-business-owners!) out there, who help make their fellow colleagues feel a bit less alone in the big wide world of translation and business-owning. Thank you for being a great motivator, and, even if I’m on a roll with my latest project, reminding me to go outside once in a while.

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