Pages in topic:   < [1 2 3 4] >
Does constant availability affect your life?
Thread poster: Robgo

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
+1 Jan 26, 2017

For once I agree with Tom.

I have never been permanently available. Not even when I started. So it is not a question of being established or not.

Why would you need to be available evenings and weekends? Your clients aren't working then either. And even if they were, they could just email you earlier during working hours. Any client who doesn't show that much respect is a client you don't want.

As for the freelancer lifestyle, it's not about working 24/7. I
... See more
For once I agree with Tom.

I have never been permanently available. Not even when I started. So it is not a question of being established or not.

Why would you need to be available evenings and weekends? Your clients aren't working then either. And even if they were, they could just email you earlier during working hours. Any client who doesn't show that much respect is a client you don't want.

As for the freelancer lifestyle, it's not about working 24/7. It's about being in control. I take time off when I want to, and if I miss some work so be it.

Those of you who make yourselves available 24/7 are doing yourselves and other translators a disservice by encouraging unrealistic expectations. But that's fine by me. If I'm out, I'm out. So it makes no difference to me.
Collapse


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 21:28
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
No, it doesn't. Jan 26, 2017

It doesn't, because I am not constantly available.

I am available to the point where it is comfortable for me and my personal time.

Normally my response time range is 24-48 hrs (because I don't have/can't afford my own staff or PAs), and when I'm on vacation, I set out-of the-office email reply so the clients can be informed when I'm back so we can resume discussing projects.

Clients who use intimidation techniques ("we will find someone else"), or who will
... See more
It doesn't, because I am not constantly available.

I am available to the point where it is comfortable for me and my personal time.

Normally my response time range is 24-48 hrs (because I don't have/can't afford my own staff or PAs), and when I'm on vacation, I set out-of the-office email reply so the clients can be informed when I'm back so we can resume discussing projects.

Clients who use intimidation techniques ("we will find someone else"), or who will replace me after we have established a relationship with the first freelancer who is 2 cents cheaper, or who is 30 minutes quicker with their response, will most likely stop being my clients.

Another important point: the higher your rate, the less you will have to work (simple science). So your life will be less affected.
Collapse


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:28
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Everybody has different priorities Jan 26, 2017

Chris S wrote:
Why would you need to be available evenings and weekends?

Some sensible points have been made. However, making yourself available at evenings and weekends may be a sensible strategy if allows you to use time in more valuable ways.

For example, I have two young children. That means I prioritise time with them between about 3 PM and 8 PM every day after they come back from school. That slot includes a fair chunk of time that would typically be considered normal working hours. I therefore often work late between 8 PM and 10 PM to compensate for this "lost time" earlier in the day.

Or, on a sunny weekday in the spring or summer, I may well take the morning off to do some gardening, or to go for an extended walk, or spend a few hours enjoying one of my hobbies. But one has to pay the piper, at least if one has a family to support and if one is the sole breadwinner. So that means that sometimes I may have to work weekends, or late into the evening, to catch up.

I don't resent these irregular working hours at all. On the contrary, I am grateful that I have that latitude, that leeway to decide how I spend my time. A simple 9-to-5 schedule from Monday to Friday no doubt works very well for some freelancers. For others, including myself, it would (perhaps counterintuitively) be restrictive at certain points in their lives. Fifth

Each to his own.

Dan




[Edited at 2017-01-26 18:32 GMT]


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:28
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Make clients respect you Jan 26, 2017

It has definitely been part of my marketing to hint to clients that when I take time off, I am recharging my batteries to serve them better when I get back. I take a couple of days to go on a training course now and then - and of course, let my clients know.

I send mails round that I am away for a month in the summer: 'I need a break and am looking forward to hearing real English round the clock, checking the bookshops and catching up on ... '
Then I send a picture of where I
... See more
It has definitely been part of my marketing to hint to clients that when I take time off, I am recharging my batteries to serve them better when I get back. I take a couple of days to go on a training course now and then - and of course, let my clients know.

I send mails round that I am away for a month in the summer: 'I need a break and am looking forward to hearing real English round the clock, checking the bookshops and catching up on ... '
Then I send a picture of where I have been to let them know when I am back. The one from the top of Snowdon drew a lot of compliments!

Of course clients find someone else while you're away, if they are not on holiday themselves. On the other hand, it is the freelancer's privilege - if you can - to take holidays outside the peak season. I have on several occasions been the person they go to when their regulars are on holiday. I have captured a few good clients that way, but many of them go back to their regular translators.

Clients are human. Like Thomas, I'm a night owl, and I don't answer mails before 9 or 10 am. That's Danish time - my UK clients are an hour behind anyway, so they probably don't notice.

In the winter I often go for walks in the early afternoon. In December it is dark here by 4.30 pm, and if you blink at the wrong moment, you miss the sun that day... And I don't take my phone with me. So I work in the evenings when it is dark anyway. I love to be out in the northern summer evenings, and my office gets too hot when the sun shines in directly, so in summer I work earlier in the day.

OK, I am the generation that remembers when there was no such thing as the Internet, but back then I was working all hours in another job. If we worked nights and weekends, we had days off mid-week instead. You can be flexible, but it is important NOT to be on call 24/7.

Decide when you are at work, and work fully for those hours. Then remember to get a life when you have earned your living!
Collapse


 

Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Come on, what an awful life Jan 26, 2017

(with all due respect)!

Robgo wrote:

I worry if I cannot do a job my client will go elsewhere and since I only work for a rather small number of clients, that would be bad. Planning a holiday always involves checking if there is cell phone coverage. While I don't think that it affects my health yet, I can imagine that it can become a problem later on.



How could you permit that your customers expect you to be always available and answer within minutes ad even to be there for them when you are on holiday? I have never been in such a situation, not even when I started (but then times were different, I must admit...).
It's time to drastically change your behaviour, set your own priorities and make them quite clear to your customers.

Otherwise you really risk a serious health problem!


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:28
Member
English to French
living longer Jan 26, 2017

Translation (or any other stressful assignment) can kill you, and you must set limits to your availability.
I've never let work invade my life, and an auto-reply or a mobile phone with e-mail are enough to let people know you're not available if so you wish.
I'm available when I want to be because like everyone else I have a life, and a 9-7 schedule is enough for me to enjoy for my retirement later.

And don't call a holiday a holiday if you keep working!

Christine Andersen wrote:
...Then I send a picture of where I have been to let them know when I am back...

This is a very cool idea. Thank you Christine for sharing.

Philippe


 

Dénis Wettmann  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 21:28
Member (2016)
German to English
+ ...
Mindfulness Jan 26, 2017

Robgo wrote:

Hello!

I am new here.

Besides my job I am finishing my degree in translation sciences and am currently doing a seminar on the topic of how technology affects a translator's work/life.

My question is how does the (more or less required) constant availability affect your life? Do you feel the constant pressure to be able to respond immediately? Can you enjoy your weekends or do you often have to cancel plans at the last minute? Have smartphones changed your life for the better or worse? Is planning your vacation now more difficult than 10 years ago because you don't want to be gone and not reachable?

Obviously these questions serve for my class, but they also interest me personally. I for one do absolutely feel this pressure. I worry if I cannot do a job my client will go elsewhere and since I only work for a rather small number of clients, that would be bad. Planning a holiday always involves checking if there is cell phone coverage. While I don't think that it affects my health yet, I can imagine that it can become a problem later on.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Regards

Robert


Having had the opportunity to grow up in a world without internet I can attest living in an ever-connected world poses a challenge. I had this conversation with my spouse over the past two years and realized it is a lifestyle choice.

We drastically changed our life once we had earned our first degree, sold everything we had and moved from Ireland to Mainland Europe. We decided that we don’t want to live where work is but bring work with us.

We each have a MacBook that weighs only 900 grams each so we can literally bring our work wherever we go. We also have a contract for our mobiles that permits us 4 GB of internet usage anywhere in Europe. This allows us to travel and work wherever we decide to be.

I do have a regular clientele and that is maybe why I don’t worry about always being reachable. I still do spend a fixed amount of time on ProZ actively ‘hunting’ for jobs, it does give me some sort of gratification.

The smartphone has improved my live dramatically since I can communicate anytime, anyplace. It also requires me to behave more adult than I am sometimes capable of and this results in me spending more time on Imgur and/or Reddit than I care to admit.

Yes, being constantly reachable does affect my life, more in a positive than negative way but I still need to be mindful and actively monitor my behaviour towards my electronic devices.

[Edited at 2017-01-26 20:21 GMT]


 

Robgo
Austria
Local time: 21:28
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Very interesting Jan 26, 2017

Thank you all for your comments! That's really very interesting.
Well, I may have exaggerated when I was saying I was planning my vacation based on cell phone coverage but there's still some truth in it- if you're not yet established, I guess you have to make some compromises. Once you have a larger customer base it becomes easier to make them play your game.

It seems to me that seniority plays an important role- translators who have been in the industry for 20 years are estab
... See more
Thank you all for your comments! That's really very interesting.
Well, I may have exaggerated when I was saying I was planning my vacation based on cell phone coverage but there's still some truth in it- if you're not yet established, I guess you have to make some compromises. Once you have a larger customer base it becomes easier to make them play your game.

It seems to me that seniority plays an important role- translators who have been in the industry for 20 years are established for one thing and they still remember the time before email and smartphones well. Some may even be adverse to the idea of always being able to answer quickly, even if they would depend on being so to a larger extent than they actually are.

I think it's an interesting topic and will do some more research into asynchronicity, chronodiversity and "terror of the temporal deficit". I suppose there are a lot of translators out there who do suffer from this, especially budding translators.

If others want to share their thoughts, please do. Especially people who are quite new in the job.
Collapse


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 21:28
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
On 9-5 schedule etc. Jan 26, 2017

I can't afford 9-5 schedule, I don't think it's possible in freelancing.

On the other hand, I am definitely not a translator available on smartphone 24/7. And definitely not someone who sees "taking work with me wherever I go" as something positive. Does it mean I will associate every place I go with work? Will there be any left that I don't? No, I will never do that.

So there's something in between these two extremes. Strict 9-5 schedule with all weekends off is not po
... See more
I can't afford 9-5 schedule, I don't think it's possible in freelancing.

On the other hand, I am definitely not a translator available on smartphone 24/7. And definitely not someone who sees "taking work with me wherever I go" as something positive. Does it mean I will associate every place I go with work? Will there be any left that I don't? No, I will never do that.

So there's something in between these two extremes. Strict 9-5 schedule with all weekends off is not possible for me at this point.

Also, with many years in freelancing I am sorry to report that I don't feel "established" in terms of reliable, constant and regular customer base. Not at all. A vast majority of my clients come with one project and I never see them again. I still have to look and hunt for projects like in the first year. Unfortunately my experience was that the clients are not really about establishing long-term relationships, they have reorganizations often, demand for my lang. pair is much lower than supply (no projects), many are small agencies that just run out of business, they are constantly looking for someone cheaper and will replace you in a second, etc.

[Edited at 2017-01-26 21:07 GMT]
Collapse


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:28
German to English
Flexible working hours and geography Jan 26, 2017

Although my normal working hours are from 8:00 to 19:00 (Eastern Standard Time – UTC-5), I have clients located in various times zones ranging from UTC +2:00 to UTC -8 (Pacific Standard time). If I know a file is coming from Europe, I get up/check my e-mail a little earlier that usual and start my working day accordingly. By the same token, I always check my e-mail after dinner, in case an inquiry comes from California. However, I wait until the following morning to start on any late-arriving ... See more
Although my normal working hours are from 8:00 to 19:00 (Eastern Standard Time – UTC-5), I have clients located in various times zones ranging from UTC +2:00 to UTC -8 (Pacific Standard time). If I know a file is coming from Europe, I get up/check my e-mail a little earlier that usual and start my working day accordingly. By the same token, I always check my e-mail after dinner, in case an inquiry comes from California. However, I wait until the following morning to start on any late-arriving projects.

For translators with clients located in the same or adjacent time zone, this isn't much of an issue.
Collapse


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Au contraire Jan 26, 2017

Lingua 5B wrote:

I can't afford 9-5 schedule, I don't think it's possible in freelancing.



Trust me, it is.

But maybe not if you are constantly chasing one-off clients. I wouldn't want to be in that position.

I would recommend working in-house for a big agency for a while before turning freelance. They'll then give you work, and when their staff move on you'll pick up new regular clients. That worked for me.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
@Dan Jan 26, 2017

Dan Lucas wrote:

I don't resent these irregular working hours at all. On the contrary, I am grateful that I have that latitude, that leeway to decide how I spend my time. A simple 9-to-5 schedule from Monday to Friday no doubt works very well for some freelancers. For others, including myself, it would (perhaps counterintuitively) be restrictive at certain points in their lives.

Each to his own.


Sure, *work* when you want, but the point is you don't need to *be available* 24/7.

That said, you need to be available most office hours or you'll end up losing clients.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 21:28
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
I worked in-house. Jan 26, 2017

Chris S wrote:

Lingua 5B wrote:

I can't afford 9-5 schedule, I don't think it's possible in freelancing.



Trust me, it is.

But maybe not if you are constantly chasing one-off clients. I wouldn't want to be in that position.

I would recommend working in-house for a big agency for a while before turning freelance. They'll then give you work, and when their staff move on you'll pick up new regular clients. That worked for me.


I worked in-house for years before turning freelance. I was at UN and some other organizations but they don't really use freelancers much and I couldn't really draw freelance projects out of that later on.

In my language pair if I want to get constant work I would have to charge something like $0.01 per word because there are 30 other translators per project who charge $0.03 (qualified ones). I know this because an outsourcer once confronted me with this statistic. While on ProZ "average rate" list you will see how an average rate charged in my language pair is $0.12 (oh, really?).

I didn't do statistics, and there are definitely clients with repeated projects (I also have direct clients), but I'm not sure they are a majority. I just wanted to challenge the belief how translators who are in the industry for a long time have this golden and reliable pool of clients and they don't have to do anything else (still may be possible in some language pairs where demand equals or exceeds supply).


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:28
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Aha Jan 26, 2017

Chris S wrote:
That said, you need to be available most office hours or you'll end up losing clients.

Actually, with different time zones that isn't always the case! But yes you're right a certain amount of availability at times when communication can be, for want of a better word, interactive is important.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 21:28
Member (2009)
German to Serbian
+ ...
Japan and USA. Jan 26, 2017

Dan Lucas wrote:

Chris S wrote:
That said, you need to be available most office hours or you'll end up losing clients.

Actually, with different time zones that isn't always the case! But yes you're right a certain amount of availability at times when communication can be, for want of a better word, interactive is important.


With my US clients (especially with 9 hrs difference), I often have to communicate at midnight when a project is ongoing - but this is not an issue because I'm not working then, just communicating and arranging things, or sending a portion of files for the deadline or something like that. The active translation work is usually done during the business hours (CET).

I suppose you work with people from Japan so the time difference comes into picture.


 
Pages in topic:   < [1 2 3 4] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Does constant availability affect your life?

Advanced search







SDL Trados Business Manager Lite
Create customer quotes and invoices from within SDL Trados Studio

SDL Trados Business Manager Lite helps to simplify and speed up some of the daily tasks, such as invoicing and reporting, associated with running your freelance translation business.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search