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♪♫ Everybody’s working on the weekends… ♪♫ February 26, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Translation.

After about a month of being underworked I have returned to the world of the overworked translator. I was lucky to earn enough to cover my rent and bills last month, while this month it looks like I am on track to exceed my monthly income target. I have turned down a lot of projects over the last few days (and suggested colleagues who may or may not be available). However, I have several clients to whom I simply can’t say no, so I am working this weekend – by choice. This seems to be a common habit in our industry. Everyone always complains about the clients who call at 4 PM on Friday with a job that absolutely must be done by Monday morning. And when you ask for a rush rate? Yeah, good luck trying to get one from the clients, because it seems there are a lot of our colleagues who are perfectly willing to consider Saturday and Sunday a normal work day. Perhaps because they work a full-time job and only translate on the weekends or simply have no life outside of translation…

I hope to be able to take a day off at the end of this coming week to balance my time spent translating this weekend. Both big projects are due March 1st and March 2nd respectively, plus a little mini-job for Monday that I really should have finished yesterday but chose to procrastinate on. If we work on the weekends the least we can do is take time off during the week instead. I have no intention of burning out after only 15 years in the industry.

I don’t intend to spend my entire weekend stuck behind my keyboard and monitor. I have plans with friends and family this weekend that I am not willing to cancel. Being a translator truly forces us to be masters of time management, because otherwise we simply wouldn’t get everything done. But I can guarantee you that there is one thing I WON’T be doing this weekend – housework!! LOL! I have a Living Social coupon for a cleaning service that I intend to cash in very soon…



1. Angela - February 26, 2011

I get e-mailed every time you post a new blog, and you wouldn’t believe the big old grin I had when I saw the title of your newest post as I looked up from the massive job I took on for this weekend. LOL!

2. Melissa - February 26, 2011

Fairly often, I work during the weekend by choice. They are like my buffer time to make up for any days during the week that just did not turn out as productively as I would have liked. My husband is home to help with any kid-related activities that would otherwise interrupt my concentration and workflow. Plus, no interruptions from e-mails and phone calls.

I agree with you about trading in a weekend day for a mid-week day off for running errands, visiting the kids’ schools, get my hair cut, whatever. Shoot, just last week when a project was delayed, I decided to dash out for a pedicure. That is the flexibility that I love about this job. 🙂

3. Alexis W - February 26, 2011

The balance issues you touch on (your/work time, low/high workflow) are truly tough to master, not to mention that constant companion, procrastination…

In terms of weekends, my current time zone (GMT+10) means that most of my clients’ (and colleagues’ and family’s) weekends are one day behind. My Saturday is still their Friday, but my Monday is still their Sunday. You have no idea how much I get done on Monday! E-mail is quiet and I just churn out words. So I happily “work weekends”; I just tend to leave out the fact that it’s often not really a weekend for me… 🙂

Good luck on finding your comp day!

4. Zachary Overline - February 28, 2011

You can’t possibly mean to imply that freelance translators have anything better to do than wait around for last-minute projects with ridiculous deadlines from LSPs like us, can ya’?


::runs for his life::

5. Matt Baird - March 1, 2011

Hi Jill, after working the past two weeks straight, including weekends, the title of your post drew me right in. 🙂 It’s always good to be reminded that we’re all in the same boat. I really value the flexibility of working from home, so I don’t mind when I have to work a weekend every now and then, or even three straight during the busy times, such as this time of year when I’m working on nothing else but annual reports. But I really appreciate being able to run an errand or go for a run during the day, something that is virtually impossible at a “normal job.” Just last week I was running along the Rhine at noon on a beautiful sunny day – getting out in the sun during a dreary German winter is priceless.

That said I won’t work weekends unless the price is right and I encourage everyone to press for “overtime pay” for working evenings and weekends. Jill’s right that too many of us accept the client’s terms out of fear of either not getting more work from that client or because things have been slow and the work is needed. You can bet your bottom dollar that your client is charging their customer a rush rate for the weekend!

Finding a work-life balance is a struggle whether you work from home or not, and I certainly have moments when I wish I could “leave work at work” again, but I think it’s easier to balance the two when you are your own boss. I don’t think I’ll want to give up that freedom again if I don’t have to.

6. shadabsonia - March 2, 2011

its human tendency to get more money, but its up to us behalf of that what we are loosing. It important to share your valuable time with your family and its only weekend for which they are awaiting for you. I decide to share my weekend with my family any how even i switch off my mobile for the same

7. Tess - March 2, 2011

You hit the nail on the head there Jill. My goal is to not work weekends, but this is not always the case. This is sometimes (often) due to the fact that I have done other things during work days too, like volunteer work in school, meetings etc. so most of the time it is voluntary weekend work, and then only a few hours each day. However, sometimes I also feel obliged to take on a job over the weekend, and the clients offering a rush fee for that are few and far between.

8. Charlotte - March 10, 2011

In London translation days can go so quickly: going for a walk then popping in to a museum that is just to overcrowded on the weekends and then finally collecting this packet that has been waiting in the post office for so long. A flexible schedule allows you to get out and do things during the week. So you can hardly complain when in exchange you get some work to do on the weekends! And even if you’re not too fond of working fulltime on a Saturday or Sunday, just check your emails in case one of your clients might have an emergency.

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