The pandemic has definitely made an impact on the language industry, changing the content of what’s being localized and the way business is done. Translators, voice-over artists, and other language professionals that worked in an office setting or recorded at a local studio have had to move their work to home. However, for many freelance language professionals, working from home was a way of life even before the pandemic.
What has changed is that now everyone is home: children that normally were at school, partners who used to work in an office, etc…are now at home, which affects the working environment. With all the changes happening in the world (like the U.S. election yesterday) and at home, it might be hard for language professionals to stay focused and positive during these times.
In this blog, we will offer some tips for how language professionals can stay productive while also maintaining their physical and mental health during these uncertain times.
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photo by CDC
With more people in the household, it can be a challenge for professionals working from home to stay focused. It’s important to let your loved ones and housemates know to avoid disturbing you during working hours. Door signs that say “On a conference call,” “Working,” etc can be helpful in communicating that you’re busy. If recording at a home studio, a “Recording in Progress” sign can let others know to be quiet.
For parents with children, having a schedule is a good way to help structure the day. Times specifically blocked off for the kids to do certain activities–remote learning, snacks/meals, play time–can help working parents also schedule their time effectively to complete work tasks while the kids are busy and know when they need to be fully attentive to their children.
Even if you’re not a parent, having a daily routine and schedule can be a great way to get yourself into the working mindset. Waking up at the same time every morning reminds your body it’s time to get ready to meet the work day. Another reminder is getting dressed in your work clothes. One might be tempted to stay in their sweatpants all day–if that works for you, great!–however, putting on a separate set of clothes designated for work makes it more clear when it’s time to be focused and when it’s time for recreation.
Blocking out times when not to use social media or your phone can be a huge time saver. It might be helpful to set up timers–for example 45 minutes to an hour–that you dedicate solely for focused work and then give yourself a short break afterwards for checking your phone, getting a snack, stretching, etc…
Having designated areas for work and rest is also a good habit. Working from one’s bed may confuse your brain, which generally associates that space with rest and sleep. This might lead to sleeping issues when one’s body begins to associate that space with work. Voice actors with home recording studios may have the advantage here: they have a designated, sound-proof space dedicated for doing their voice-work.
For translators and other language professionals, it’s good to have a designated work office in the home. However, if you don’t happen to have this luxury and do most of your work on a relatively mobile device like a laptop, try working in different areas in your home on different days or at different times throughout the day. This can help you stay energized as your mind stays alert in the slightly different environments.
photo by Lindsay Henwood
It’s important for professionals to make sure that the items they frequently use are ergonomic and–in the time of coronavirus– that common use items (e.g. shared computers, door handles, etc…) are frequently sanitized and one washes their hands often.
Translators and language professionals spend a great deal of time typing and using their mouse. It might be helpful to have an ergonomic wrist pad/cushion that helps raise one’s wrists to maintain a natural arc in their hands to reduce the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Sitting in a chair for long periods of time has been said to be just as bad for one’s health as smoking. A few ways some professionals have combatted this is using a large exercise ball instead of a chair, having a standing desk, or having a chair that maintains the natural curve of one’s spine. One great tip that anyone can do is taking breaks throughout the day. Maybe blocking out 10 minutes each work hour for getting up and stretching or taking a quick walk around the room. These are great ways to get your blood flowing and keep your mind refreshed.
As mentioned above, waking up every morning at the same time is great, but also keeping a regular before-work routine can really help keep you motivated throughout the day. Some do meditation, a short run, or cleaning the room, whatever it is that helps set the mind for the work day.
On a work day, if one is working with a remote team, it’s important to be available during business hours or communicate clear changes in schedules in case you need to confer with team members and in case they have questions for you. But once the business hours have passed, setting boundaries for when you’re not available and when it’s your time off is just as important. It’s really important also to take care of oneself especially during these times. Burning out can happen at home just as well as in the office. If no boundaries are set, working over 12 hours a day may become routine and that can burn any professional out fairly quickly.
photo by Sebastian Staines
It’s great to be productive at home but it’s important to stay healthy as well. Having a schedule and routine for work, exercise, and rest is helpful in keeping your body and mind productive and happy in the long run.
Having designated spaces and sets of clothes for work and leisure are great psychological tricks to get yourself into work mode or relaxation mode.
If you’re feeling cabin fever or anxious at times, just remind yourself you’re not alone! Stay healthy and hopeful, we’re going to get through this together.
Have any tips of your own? Be sure to leave a comment below.
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