Maintaining Work-Life Balance as a Freelance Translator

Pollion Team

Freelancing has dramatically increased in recent years, especially in the translation industry. Working from home is the dream of many freelance translator however, is working remotely really the “holy grail” it’s made out to be? 

As a freelance translator, you can work almost anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection. You can work from home, your local coffee shop, a coworking space, and more. In addition, you can choose the hours you want to work and which clients to work with. So, what’s not to like as a freelance translator? 

As with any “holy grail,” there are issues that must be considered before choosing to work as a freelance translator. One of the main issues is coping with the blurred lines between your work and personal life. That can be a considerable challenge for many freelancers. 

The Challenges of Freelance Translators

Being a freelance translator can be an excellent opportunity; however, it also comes with many challenges. The following sections discuss some of the most common challenges a freelancer may face. 

Unpredictable Work Hours

As a freelance translator, you will face times when there’s too much work and other times when there’s too little work. The problem is that you need to make money. To make money, you have to work. If there’s not enough work, you may be tempted to take on every project that comes your way when things are busy. 

Being overwhelmed with work can significantly affect your time, productivity, work quality, and mental and physical health. You may be able to keep up with the huge workload for a time, but eventually, you’ll become tired, sick, and burned out. You could also lose a client (or two) due to burnout and not managing your time effectively. 

Freelancers must determine the amount of work they’re able to handle. Without the structure of a company and the support provided by an employer, it can be challenging. 

The “Always On” Mentality

Another issue a freelance translator must deal with is the “always on” mentality. Working in a traditional office usually means working a regular 9-5 workday (or similar hours). It’s easier to leave work behind at the office and go home at the end of the day. However, working from home may make a freelance translator stay in “always-on” mode. 

“Always-on” means staying available to clients at all hours of the day. You may also work untraditional hours that are longer than a traditional workday. This may be the case, primarily if you work with clients across numerous time zones. Being “always-on” can make it difficult to disconnect from work, especially when you work in your living space. 

The problem can grow over time until you eventually face burnout and find it challenging to get any work done at all. 

Unpredictable Income

One of the most challenging problems for freelance translators is unpredictable income. Freelancing usually means you go through times when there’s plenty of work and money. However, you’ll also have to deal with times when there isn’t as much work (if at all) and little to no income.

When you have no work, there are no earnings. Paying the monthly bills can become extremely challenging. A freelance translator in this situation may also become stressed and nervous during long “dry spells” without pay as the bills add up. 

Lack of Clear Boundaries

Many freelancers working from home may also find a lack of clear boundaries with clients and their work-life balance. There’s a temptation to mix work tasks with personal chores. For instance, a freelance translator may use their break time to clean the bathroom or fold laundry. Taking care of client work and household chores continuously means never having downtime. 

In addition, working from home can mean dealing with potential distractions. As a freelance translator, you may have a family, pets, and more at home. What happens if the baby needs a diaper change and starts crying when you’re in the middle of a complex translation project? There are also pets to deal with, such as barking dogs, phones ringing, and so much more. 

All of these distractions can make it almost impossible to get work done. Here, again, as a freelance translator who doesn’t take breaks or have downtime, you face burnout and ill health. 

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Strategies to Achieve Balance

While being a freelance translator does come with some challenges, there are some things you can do to create a healthy balance between your work and personal life. Use these tips to create balance and maintain your physical and mental well-being. 

Set clear work hours: Start by determining the work hours best for you and your situation. Setting and sticking to a routine is imperative to your work and well-being. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different work hours to see what works best. Use tools and apps to track your work hours and use the data to see which hours are best for you. Once you’ve found suitable hours, stick with them and make this a routine. Once work is done for the day, close your computer and commit to doing no more work for the day. 

Designate a specific workspace: Having a dedicated workspace is the next priority on your list as a freelance translator. A dedicated workspace helps you mentally prepare for work and disconnect at the end of your workday. 

Learn to say no: Understand your limits and learn to say “no.” Turning down projects may seem counterintuitive for a freelancer; however, it’s best to turn it down if you’re already at capacity or the project is beyond your abilities. Turning down clients who expect you to work after business hours and on weekends is also good. The main message here is that saying “no” is OK, and doing so preserves your overall well-being. 

Quality over quantity: Here’s another version of overworking yourself. As a freelance translator, it’s incredibly tempting to take on every project that’s offered. As we said earlier, this may work for a time, but eventually, burnout sets in, and the quality of your work suffers. Instead, focus on quality over quantity. Your clients will be happier with higher-quality work, and you’ll feel better, too. 

Take regular breaks: to keep yourself fresh and avoid exhaustion. Freelance work can be as demanding as any other job. Regular breaks are necessary to give your mind and body a break. If you have trouble taking breaks during work hours, consider using the Pomodoro technique or other time management methods. With the Pomodoro method, you work for 25 minutes at a time and then take a break. You must set a timer for 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, you must take a break. Using this or another time management method ensures you take short breaks. Following this tip can give a big boost to your productivity and help you avoid burnout. 

Stay connected with other freelancers: Consider joining a freelance translator group or forum when working from home. These groups are excellent places to build a support network, share concerns, and get advice from other freelancers. These groups can also help you find work when things are slow. And you may even pick up new clients through new opportunities shared with the group. To find the right group, do a Google search for “Freelance translator groups.” You may find several on LinkedIn, Facebook, and in specific forums for freelance translators. 

Prioritize self-care: Finally, remember to take care of yourself. Self-care includes adding regular exercise to your days, enjoying hobbies, and having fun with friends and family. Self-care promotes better physical and mental health. It can also boost your energy, productivity, and mental well-being! 


As a freelance translator, it’s essential to establish a work-life balance for long-term success and well-being. Remember, you’re the boss! As the head of your freelance business, you must continuously evaluate and adjust your work-life routines for a healthier balance. 

Ensuring your work and life are in balance can lead to a more successful freelance translator career and a happier, healthier you! 

Tags: Freelance Translator