Delivering on time

Delivering on time is essential to any translator. A good professional is aware of their skills and conducts their business professionally. Meeting deadlines is part of the job and translators must understand these deadlines are a fundamental part of building their reputation in the market and gaining credibility among clients. However, meeting deadlines means carrying out our job in a timely fashion, that allows us to complete the task professionally and deliver it on time, it does not mean we need to stop living to meet unrealistic deadlines.

More work, more money

A lot of translators overwork themselves until they collapse on the floor. Being a translator, especially if you work with low demand languages can be extremely hard and we all do the best we can to get clients and keep our businesses afloat. It is called survival. However, a lot of translators commit themselves to extremely unrealistic deadlines and work night and day to meet them. More work, more money they may think. Well, they are right at some point, but in business, we always need to look at the bigger picture. So my question is, would that rhythm be healthy and sustainable in the long run? Ask yourself that question.

I think the answer is, no, it is not healthy or sustainable. You may enjoy the cash flow it brings you, and it may indeed be a very prosperous time for you. But, with time you will find that may have caused a lot of damage, not only in your career but also in your health and personal life, if you still have one at that point. You can’t be as productive when you are tired as when you are well-rested, which may cause you to make mistakes and affect the quality of your work. Your clients will see that, and they may start going elsewhere. So more work, may in fact mean less money in the future. Apart from that, is the effect that this all has on you personally, your family and your life. Translators are highly qualified professionals who deserve to be treated with respect, but if we demand that respect from other people, including our clients, we must demand it from ourselves first. Working 24/7 shows a total disrespect for ourselves and our work.

Be truthful, be realistic, be balanced

One of the clauses of the AUSIT Code of Ethics is to comply with deadlines. But AUSIT also says we have to carry out our work with professionalism and to the best of our capabilities. If you have been translating for 17 hours non-stop and you still need to do a few more to meet that deadline, you won’t be doing your best job, you are simply doing the best you can to beat the time. You are overworked and chances are you will be also underpaid for that job too. My advice is don’t do it. You may not see it that way now, but it will ruin your life and eventually end your career.

Have a balanced approach to things. Set realistic deadlines, that don’t compromise the quality of your work and your mental health. I know it is a balancing act, and we all need to put food on the table, but we also need to see our children grow and be there for them when they need us. If we end up with a serious health problem, money can’t bring our health back. If the deadline is too tight, negotiate it with the client and explain that unrealistic deadlines compromise the quality of the final product. If you have no time to research if you need to, translate the text professionally and review it before delivery, you may end up with a sub-standard translation, that not only damage your reputation as a translator but is in breach of our Code of Ethics.

Professional solidarity

Another clause in the AUSIT Code of Ethics is that we must practise professional solidarity and support each and the profession. That means that we should always look at the benefit of the profession and all translators as a whole. That means we should encourage understanding and respect for our profession. When we accept working for unrealistic and exploitative deadlines or accept ridiculously low rates for those jobs, we are in breach of this clause too. We devalue ourselves and our work, but we are also devaluing the whole profession. Clients will think these practices are acceptable, so they will never change because someone will agree with them. That way, you are pushing down the whole industry. I’ve heard the argument about bottom feeders, well, we can’t put all the blame on agencies and bottom feeders, we have to blame ourselves too. If we do not accept such working conditions, they won’t be able to operate in that model. Over more than 10 years of my career, I have never failed a deadline, but I’ve never accepted unrealistic and exploitative jobs. It’s not just for me and my mental health is for my family and for all my colleagues who work as hard as I do and deserve the same respect I want for myself.

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