3 Lessons I Learned From Working as a Freelance Translator

“The only source of knowledge is experience.”
~ Albert Einstein


  1. There are some things that I know I don’t know. For example, I know there are plugins available for OmegaT, but, I don’t know how many, and I don’t know how to write one myself.
    There was also a time, where I only knew that CAT tools in general existed, and at that time I didn’t know that I didn’t know how many plugins were available for OmegaT, because I didn’t even know that OmegaT existed. I other words, I was completely blank on the subject.
    I have learned that it’s wise to go to a forum like for instance the forum on ProZ.com, and just listen to the people there who are experienced freelance translators, because they might be talking about changes to a plugin, for a CAT tool you didn’t know even existed. Then you know, that you don’t know something, which is actually better than not knowing what you don’t know.
  2. As much as we want to move along in our evolution as humans, we still carry a brain and a body with us, that haven’t changed as fast as technology has. You just sit in front of your computer as a freelance translator, and oh, sometimes you have to go eat, sleep, exercise, and nature, she’s just adorable, isn’t she?
    If someone needs a manual for a new blender, you really don’t need all these thing, they’re kind just in the way. You’re using your intellect for the job.
    I find it a bit weird, but for me it’s actually possible to satisfy some of the inherited needs by using a tool like Noisli.com. It’s like going for a virtual walk in nature, but I can work at the same time.
    Kinda cool – and kinda sick too.
  3. Interruptions seem harmless, perhaps even welcomed at times, but they are actually followed by a period of time where you’re trying to find out where you left off before you were interrupted. And, on top of that, if you know that there’s a risk of being interrupted, you spent much of your energy in alert mode, and not fully dedicated to the task at hand.
    It’s not always necessary to be interrupted by phone, email alerts, chats or people wanting to tell you something. If you work hard, you can allow yourself to play hard, but you’re not working hard when you’re constantly switching channels of incoming information without filters.
What have you learned, that could benefit others?

2 comments on “3 Lessons I Learned From Working as a Freelance Translator

  1. -

    Like the post Thomas,
    Must say I have never taken a ‘virtual walk’ in nature. I prefer the real thing once in a while. ha ha
    I totally understand the interruptions thing. I find I am interrupted by family A LOT in my home work space. I never realized how much time it took me to “get back into my work” after switching channels, until you got me thinking about it.’
    Us women are usually ‘multi-taskers’, but I am thinking I could probably use some more boundaries and focus.
    Thanks for making me think with this one 🙂

    • -

      Well, I go crazy in my kitchen garden once in a while. Plenty of nature for me there 😉
      Sometimes I dream about building a small cabin in the backyard, just to get away from interruptions. Of course it depends on how much space and equipment you need for work, but as a freelance translator it’s actually not much.

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