Summertime: Let’s give ourselves a break

Vacation time has begun in my part of Germany and things are slowly winding down.  The perfect opportunity to take a look back at the last half year. Magda Phili’s timely and thoughtful blog post struck a chord with me. Follow the link to read her thoughts on taking a step back from the many chores and obligations tugging at you.

Don’t wear yourself thin

Translators can spend a lot of time and energy pursuing ever more training and education, being hyper-aware of the many things we know we ought to know more about. The requirements for freelance professionals are so varied that there is always something you want or need to improve. There’s that new client, that MOOC, your marketing efforts, new copy for your website, finally cleaning up that TM, tax stuff, and the list goes on.  Pretty exhausting!

My last half year has been jam packed, full of work, learning and goals that I’ve set. And now that summer is here and the kids are home, I am realizing how out of breath I have been. I’ve been spreading myself a bit too thin and it’s catching up with me. Yet, it still feels like I can’t let go already, because there is so much more to do.

If you want to stay a happy and healthy freelancer,  you HAVE to take the time to breathe deeply, enjoy the sunshine and smell the flowers (or whatever you would do in your happy place). Put your to-do list to bed early and read a good book, or watch that movie you’ve been waiting to see, or go for a run. Go build something, or just have a really long nap. Recharge your batteries! There should always be time for that.

Take stock from a good place

And then when you’re feeling good about yourself, have a friendly look at what you have achieved so far. I’ll bet that it’s more than you initially thought!

Or if you are a worrier like me, maybe Julia Graham’s tip can help. At the beginning of the year, she shared the following idea as part of her Freelance Friday series on her Facebook page: Write down your achievements and store them in a jar. It’s a visual reminder of your successes and you can empty it out and take stock of the positives instead of focusing on the negatives. So simple! I went out and got a pretty jar (it might as well be nice to look at) and have been filling it up with little notes ever since. I may have a long to-do list, but that jar is filling up nicely as well!

My achivement jar
My achievement jar

No matter how confident you are in your skills and your productivity, that pile of cards representing my work this year is a gratifying sight. A reality check can be a good thing.

My summer resolution

This summer, I am resolved to take my own advice. I’ll be working, but I will also give my teetering stack of non-work related books some loving bookworm attention. I will go eat ice cream and simply allow more time for the fun things in life, which have no direct relation to my work. And I will try and do that without constant nagging thoughts about the work I could be doing instead. The one lesson I have to keep in mind is that I spend my actual work-time much more productively if I let myself have enough downtime.

Come fall, I’ll hit the ground running and (I hope) happily shrug off those autumn showers! But first I’ll head to Berlin for the FIT Congress. Who else is going there?

And what are your plans for the summer? How do you recharge your batteries?


Else Gellinek is a German-American, bilingual linguist and translator specializing in PR, marketing and corporate communications as well as non-native editing. She blogs about the translation industry, freelancing, language and anything else that might tickle her fancy.

There are 9 comments on this post

  1. Emeline Jamoul

    Thanks for this very nice post, Else! It really needed to be written. I know we all love our job so much that sometimes it’s hard to stop. Or maybe it’s our freelancer status which makes us feel such a strong responsibility.

    I’m guilty of those nagging thoughts too and this is what I really need to work on! Whenever work is slow or now that the summer holiday is here, I can’t stop and do something else that’s not related to work. It might not be work-work but it is still CPD, learning a new language, cleaning my laptop and my inbox! I am currently in the process of booking my first holiday away since I became a freelancer and even then I’ll have wifi to check my inbox! Hopefully though, I will try to stick to a twice a day rule. Hopefully :)…

    1. Else Gellinek

      Hi Emeline,

      I hear you! I hope I’ll be able follow through on this myself. Sometimes it’s hard to just let yourself have some free time …

      What kind of vacation are you planning?

  2. Sarah Pybus

    You make some very good points. I’ve realised just how much I need a proper holiday. I had a family break in April but spent most of it revising for an exam, and took another week off in June which was spent attending a local film festival and sitting said exam. In the next couple of months I’m going on 3 holidays (including Berlin for FIT) and I don’t intend to look at my emails at all. I find that having internet access stops me from truly relaxing – and if we don’t relax, the quality of our work will suffer and we will eventually burn out!

    1. Else Gellinek

      That’s right, Sarah! You’ll be in Berlin as well 🙂 I look forward to seeing you there.

      And you’re right about the internet access. Smartphones are very useful, but they make it so difficult to truly leave your work behind.

      1. Sarah Pybus

        I’m just going to unsync my emails when I’m away – that should remove the temptation to look!

        1. Else Gellinek

          Smart! Cold turkey might be the best way to go 🙂

  3. Lucy

    I really enjoyed this article, particularly the idea of the achievement jar. I think I might start doing that!

    1. Else Gellinek

      Hi Lucy,

      You should give it a try! Being able to drop a new little note in the jar is strangely rewarding 🙂


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