Geoffrey Samuelsson-Brown, author of the book A Practical Guide for Translators, describes a typical day and how as a freelance translator he might divide up his time over the month:
Each day is different since a translator, particularly a freelance, needs to deal with a number of tasks and there is no typical day. I usually get up at around 7 in the morning, shower, have breakfast and get to my desk at around 8 just as my wife is leaving to drive to her office. Like most freelances I have my office at home.
I work in spells of 50 minutes and take a break even if it is just to walk around the house. I try and take at least half an hour for lunch and try to finish at around 5 unless there is urgent work and then I will perhaps work in the evening for an hour or so. But I do the latter only if a premium payment is offered and I wish to accept the work. If I were to analyse an average working month of 22 possible working days, I would get the following:
Task or item to which time is accounted Time spent on the task Translation including project management, research, draft translation, proofreading and editing, resolving queries and administration Fifteen and a half days Office administration including invoicing, purchasing and correspondence (tax issues and bookkeeping are dealt with by my accountant) Two days External activities such as networking and marketing One day Continuous personal development including – and this is not a joke – watching relevant TV programmes or reading articles on subjects in which you have or wish to improve your expertise. One day Public or other holidays (say 21 days leave and 7 days public holidays) Two and a half days
My average monthly output for these fifteen and a half effective days is around 28,000 words. If this is spread out over effective working days of six working hours (8 x 50 minutes in reality), my effective hourly production rate is 300 words an hour. This may not seem a lot but it may be worth considering that to expect to work undisturbed on translation eight hours a day, five days a week, is unrealistic. There may also be times when you are physically or mentally unable to work – how do you take account of such eventualities as a freelance?