Many translators are natural introverts. They are not saddened by long days spent alone with a text they are working on. Quite the contrary. Many translators are revived and recharged by spending time by themselves. Many translators, however, are the opposite. They are gregarious, sociable people who prefer spending time in the company of others. They excel at networking and customer interaction. If given the choice, they would choose being among many over being by themselves.
For the latter group, freelancing can pose a challenge, particularly at the beginning. Most freelance translators probably started off doing something else, likely in an office setting or at least in an environment with more than just one person. When they start to freelance, they often miss the camaraderie they once had with their colleagues. So, how can translators stave off loneliness and remain happy and productive? Below are five ideas for getting out of your office and connecting with others, both locally and farther afield.
- Coworking spaces
Most urban (and even urban-adjacent) areas have some sort of coworking space available. A coworking space is like an office where you can rent a spot by the day, week, month, or even year and get the opportunity to work in the same place as other freelancers like yourself. Coworking spaces are not just rows of cubicles, either: many have perks like free conference rooms, teleconferencing equipment, networking events, free coffee, kitchenettes for you to reheat your bag lunch, and comfortable lounge areas. Consider finding one in your area and going to check it out.
- Your local or regional professional translation organization
The American Translators Association has 14 chapters and 10 affiliated groups, so if you are in the United States, it is likely that there is one not too far from you. The ITI in the UK has many regional groups and chances are there is a professional translation organization reasonably close to you, no matter where you live. They provide great opportunities to meet other language professionals, network, enjoy continuing education opportunities, and advocate for the profession. If there isn’t one near you, consider starting one! If you’re looking for one, someone else probably is, too.
Meetup is a social networking site that allows people to “meet up” with others who share a common interest. It could be language related (maybe you want to practice your source language with others or learn a new language) or something completely different. Popular Meetups include groups for hiking, knitting, entrepreneurship, wine tasting, you name it. They are a great way to meet new people locally with a common passion. Don’t see one that interests you? Consider starting one of these, too!
- Join a gym
Most translators spend an inordinate amount of time sitting behind a desk, and sitting has been shown to increase the risk of a host of ailments from heart disease to diabetes. A great way to cope with constant sitting (and to get your you-know-what moving) is to join a gym. Though not necessarily the chattiest places, gyms are usually full of people and the low-pressure interaction can sometimes be just what you need. Plus, getting those endorphins flowing can improve your mood, reduce your risk of getting a variety of diseases, and strengthen your bones, among other benefits. Don’t want to join a gym? Prioritize moving some other way, whether by taking an afternoon walk, doing yoga, or converting to a standing desk.
- Take a class
Have you always wanted to learn to make bowls on a pottery wheel? Take voice lessons? Perfect your pie crust? Make a dining table? Look up classes that are available in your area. They are usually held in the evening, so they won’t affect your work schedule, and can be a great way to meet new people and try your hand at something new. If you live in a university town, your local cooperative extension likely offers an array of great classes to the general public. Keeping those synapses firing in new ways is also important for staying sharp.
Translation is a job that requires a healthy mind. A lonely, tired, or stressed mind is not a healthy one. We must be sure to take care of ourselves first so that we can produce our best work for our clients. For the introverts and extroverts alike, it is important to get out of the office more than just once in a while.
What do you do to motivate yourself to get out of the office? Please leave a comment or join the conversation on Twitter (@Bentranslates).