My First Experience as a Digital Nomad

This is a guest post I wrote for Travelling Jezebel, a blog about travel, tourism, books, human rights, and women’s issues, among other things. Its author, Dani Leigh, is a fellow University of Salford alumna and she has travelled extensively during the past few years. Having read about her experiences, I was inspired to embrace my love of travel and also to share my experience of combining travel and work.

Travelling when you want and still being able to earn a living? That’s a dream for many, and it’s become increasingly more popular in recent years with the improvement of internet accessibility and communications. I personally wouldn’t call myself a digital nomad because I don’t think I qualify really, considering I don’t travel very frequently, although I travel more than your average nine-to-five employee. In the two and half years that I’ve been self-employed I’ve combined work and travel a lot, but never really specifically for the purpose of travelling and seeing the world. I worked while travelling when I did a four-month study period in Paris as part of my master’s degree. I travelled to Brescia in the north of Italy last year for a conference, and I’ve worked while travelling to visit family in the UK. Having coped well while travelling for these purposes, I wanted to try working remotely while travelling for touristic purposes.

In March of this year, I visited Budapest in Hungary, Skopje in Macedonia, Bratislava in Slovakia and Sofia in Bulgaria during a two-week period, working from cafés, hostels, and airports. I’m not going to discuss what I liked about each place, as the focus of this post is my experience with the more practical considerations.

To continue reading, click here to see the original post.

Healthy habits for the home worker

Healthy habits for the home worker

I’m often told that working from home is the dream. Being able to choose when you have lunch, to organise your work to suit your personal and professional goals, and generally having much more freedom than you would in an in-house position seems ideal to many people. I’m not here to burst that bubble, it is ideal and has allowed me the opportunity to travel more often, taking my work with me as I go. There are, however, some side effects of working from home which, if not remedied with some healthy habits, could become troublesome even for the best of us. Below I list some habits I’ve developed to better manage my time and wellbeing as a freelancer working (mainly!) from home.

  1. Make time for yourself
    This is good advice for anyone, but especially for those of us who work from home. Having your work environment in your home can make it very difficult to switch off and relax. I struggle with this sometimes but it’s important to set aside time to relax and disconnect from work, not only to improve your quality of life but to improve the quality of your work. When I am stressed I struggle to focus, so disconnecting from work and relaxing when I need to, helps me to be fully motivated and engaged with my work when in “work mode”. The designated relaxation time for me is making time for exercise. I have set days that I go and, unless there is emergency or urgent matter to be dealt with, I follow that routine without fail. It doesn’t have to be exercise, of course. It can be something you enjoy. That brings me to my next point…
  2. Get some exercise
    Being sat all day is bad for us in many ways. It’s bad for our posture, metabolism, energy levels, and sleep routine. For those of us who work from home, it’s even worse because unlike most people, we don’t even have to move very much to get to work. I recently read that spending several hours per day sat down is as bad for our health as smoking. This was very shocking to me as I’m very health conscious and always considered myself as someone with healthy habits. I’d been looking into exercise machines for home use when I met a fellow translator at a conference who told me she walks on a treadmill the entire day while she works. I haven’t yet made this investment as I’ll be moving to a new house soon, but I definitely intend to try it. You don’t necessarily need to walk on a treadmill all day to be more active, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine. Even just going for a walk after lunch could make a difference.
  3. Plan your meals
    You don’t need to be meticulous but planning meals is a good way to ensure that you’re eating healthily and often also helps to save money. I find working from home makes me more prone to snacking and the days that I fall off the wagon tend to be those when I haven’t managed to plan what I’m going to eat. Knowing what I’m going to eat later and knowing it’s something I like because I planned it helps me to avoid snacking because I think, “I won’t eat a biscuit now because I have vegan enchiladas for lunch!”. If you’re really organised, you can even plan ahead and cook in bulk. This way you don’t even need to cook every day to eat healthy and delicious foods. This is what I often do with the aforementioned enchiladas, as the recipe I use makes 4-6 servings so that’s 2-3 meals for my household. Just pop it in the freezer in portions and take it out whenever you want it.
  4. There’s a great big world out there!
    When I first started working from home I found that I only ever left the house to go food shopping. Needless to say, this was a very unhealthy habit and I soon became agitated. Fortunately, I realised early on that I was forgetting to engage with the outside world (not including emails, of course!) so I gave myself a rule that I will leave the house every day for at least 1 hour. It reduces stress, improves my mood, and makes me more motivated when I do return to my work. With this in mind, I decided to try taking my work with me while I travel. In fact, I am writing this from a café in Skopje, Macedonia. This is my first working holiday and so far, I’ve noticed some real benefits from the change of scenery, but I will write a separate post to cover that. Everyone is different, and a working holiday might not be best suited to your way of working, but a change of scenery can certainly help. When I’m at home, I often take my laptop to a nearby café instead of using my perfectly comfortable and equipped home office. This suggestion is perhaps not useful for everyone but it’s definitely worth considering!

Working from home can be challenging but I have found these to be useful in overcoming those obstacles. Do you have any habits or rules for healthy home working? Let me know!

Conferences – why go?

Now that I’ve been a freelance translator for almost two years, one question I’m frequently asked by aspiring freelancers is how I managed to make it sustainable. This is a really good question as freelancers are unfortunately often plagued by instability and periods of uncertainty. Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means a veteran translator (yet!) and I do still have what we might call ‘low seasons’ but I have managed to be relatively successful as a self-employed translator and this I owe not only to extensive research and hard work but also to advice given to me by fellow, more experienced translators.

When I first started, I was reluctant to reach out to fellow translators nor did I really participate in discussions about the industry itself in the various translation-related forums and groups online. I was afraid this would reflect badly on me due to my lack of experience or that nobody would want to help. However, over time and having spoken with fellow translators at co-working days I’ve attended or in online groups, I’ve found that they are more than happy to give advice to the younger, less experienced translators. One of the best pieces of advice that I have been given time and time again is this: whenever possible, attend relevant conferences. 

These conferences don’t necessarily have to concern translation. You can attend conferences in a number of areas, depending on your specialisation: cardiology, dentistry, medicine, literature, tourism, climate change, the list goes on and on. Having tried and tested this advice (albeit not as frequently as I would have liked), I wanted to share with you, my fellow and aspiring translators, why this has been beneficial in my case.

  1. Meeting other translators

As I’ve already mentioned, I owe a lot to the more experienced translators who gave me advice during my first few months as a freelance translator (and even as recently as this year) on how to improve my services, find clients and keep progressing along this career path. Conferences are an excellent way to meet other translators and to share and discuss advice or concerns relating to your work. (Translators are often a great laugh, too!)

  1. Continued Professional Development

CPD is fundamental, not only to translators but to all career paths. Technology improves, theories develop, language skills and subject knowledge wane with time, so we must keep working on them if we are to provide a professional translation service which keeps our clients happy. This is another way in which conferences can be extremely beneficial since CPD sessions are held for attendees and these sessions are often recognised by various professional associations. In addition, there are often educational companies present at these conferences which may provide discounts on their courses for attendees and happily provide information about their courses. Even just the conversations that you have with fellow translators, agencies, prospective clients and companies can be incredibly educational and help you develop a new skill, be it negotiation skills, business etiquette or keeping up with the latest trends in your subject area.

  1. Meeting clients

Of course, this is the Holy Grail for all freelancers: the opportunity to meet new clients. At all kinds of conferences, you can meet potential clients. Although most of your client interaction will more than likely be via email, being able to meet them in person is certainly beneficial. It puts a face to the name and your presence at the conference also communicates to the potential client that you invest time and money into expanding your business and learning more to improve the professional translation services you provide. It’s also an opportunity to touch base with existing clients – if they are there. Last year at the Language Show in London, I met a project manager with whom I had been working regularly for a few months and it was great to meet her in person. Such meetings improve the professional relationship you have with your clients, which is important if you are to keep working with them.

Some of the above are the reasons for which I’ll be attending the Mediterranean Editors and Translators Meeting 2017 this October, and I look forward to posting about my experience there.