Lesson 100: Why translation downtime is a good thing and how to make the most of it?

Lesson 100: Why translation downtime is a good thing and how to make the most of it?

You’ll find this post interesting because unlike my usual ‘how to find more work’, I’m going to advocate for finding time off work. This year I worked flat out until the 15th of July and I planned a longer period of downtime right through until the end of September to concentrate on writing the book, developing a new course (stay tuned!) and finishing off my cloud computing research project (you’ll hear more about it, too). Not even two weeks in this downtime, I’m already experiencing the benefits, so I thought you’d like to hear how to make the most from a ‘break’.


I kid you not, take a few days off and just rest. I thought making sure you take weekends off regularly is enough to keep your brain rested, but I only realised how tired I was when I went to the mountains for a few days and I just switched off.

Learn, study, read

As translators, we are privileged already and we’re learning almost with every project. But when was the last time you learned something for yourself, something that sparked interest? I’m enjoying that a lot today, it feels almost like a study break.

Work on a personal project

I’m sure you have this idea, this project you wanted to work on since forever but you never had enough time to do it. I’ve just started working on a little personal project with my family that we’ve been putting off for years, and I can tell you it’s very rewarding.

Update CV, portfolio, marketing collateral

Downtime periods are great for all sorts of reflections and updates. In August, I’ll be going through my marketing materials and tweaking little bits. The best approach is to first carry out an audit (analyse your current situation) and then decide what and how to improve.

Archive and backup your work

If you don’t have enough time to do some archiving and backuping during the normal course of your work, take this time to build up an archive of your projects and go through the existing archives, too.


You probably have a set of processes and some sort of organisation strategy in place, but what happened to me is that the system I’ve envisaged to organise projects, files and folders was too small to manage the complexity of work that soon arose. And then, mid-way through a busy project, I didn’t have enough time to tweak my organisation. It’s going to change soon!


Without much time pressure, I find it much easier to go to networking events and enjoy conversations there. Plan to attend some of those.

Create or develop a marketing plan

Enjoying some clear mental space during downtime, work on your marketing plan. Think about the ideas you’ve always had to promote your business and start putting them into practice.

Research new or niche markets

Usually we’re too busy researching for translation projects and we never have enough time to do any market research for our own business. Now is the best time.

Get creative

I don’t know about you, but every now and then I feel I miss doing creative things. I enjoy drawing and painting (for my eyes only!), and I know it has a positive impact on my creativity at work, too.

What about you, what do you do in your downtime?

Oh, and have you noticed it’s lesson no. 100? Almost like my blog’s birthday!


  1. Jacek Iciek , on Jul 29, 2014 at 12:53 Reply

    Congratulations on your 100th! If you’re into drawing, try to sketch something and put it as a featured post picture. It will add a great personal touch to your blog and I bet people will love it. Have a great day.

  2. Tess , on Jul 30, 2014 at 07:05 Reply

    Congratulations on the 100th post Marta! Keep the good stuff going. The longer I have been freelancing, the more I start to value down time, and the ability to enjoy the down time (instead of stressing over when the next project will come, or what else I can do to develop my business). I am certainly enjoying a lot of down time during my summer here in Sweden, with trips to the beach, swimming, boating, seeing friends and more. In Park City I go hiking with the dog, read, watch movies and spend time with my family. I do miss drawing and painting too, and hope to take it up soon again.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Nov 6, 2014 at 18:59 Reply

      Thank you, Tess! It’s true the longer you work, the more you value your time off, it helps you stay focused throughout the year.

  3. tradurretranslateblog , on Jul 30, 2014 at 15:37 Reply

    Even though for a translator it’s true that it’s very difficult to completely go on holiday, without being at least partially available for any smaller client matters, I really do think that if you go on a real holiday, even if only a week or two, you should spend that time relaxing and doing fun stuff. And, after 10 years as a freelancer, I believe you should not use your holiday time, often limited, to research new clients, updating CVs etc. But rather to do things that takes your mind off your every day routine as a translator…

    This year my work load has been extremely high for 3-4 months now, and I am only going on oliday for hopefully 2 weeks after 6 August, and I fully will enjoy that time, well probably still following my social media status, but for the rest disconnecting. Or at least try to…

    To catch up on organizational stuff you normally do not have time to do…that I believe is better done on rainy Saturdays in November or so…than wasting your precious holiday with that.;-)

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Nov 6, 2014 at 19:06 Reply

      It’s good to completely switch off too, but I personally find I can rest better when I’m still active this way. It’s simply very rewarding. I hope you have fun on your holiday!

  4. Dmitri Gabinski , on Jul 31, 2014 at 07:50 Reply

    Congratulations on 100th posting! Thank you very much for good and interesting ideas! Keep up with your excellent work!

  5. Natalia Harreguy , on Jul 31, 2014 at 16:01 Reply

    Interesting article, Marta! And I do believe taking some time off is crucial to what we do.

    I generally use time off to update my CV, portfolio, and so on. (I’m about to set forth on that task again! )

    Some times I don’t wait to have some time off just because I’ve finished working on a project, but rather make my own time off, for the sake of resting.

    On other ocassions, I may take advantage of a day off to catch up with a looong training course I usually dedicate weekends to, that way I can enjoy the weekend getting together with firends who have 9-5-jobs, unlike me.

    Congrats on the 100 lesson 🙂

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Nov 6, 2014 at 19:07 Reply

      Thank you, Natalia, for good wishes and for the post as well!

  6. Marie Jackson , on Aug 1, 2014 at 08:22 Reply

    Great post, Marta! I’m a big fan of creative downtime too, and also do a lot of arts and crafts. I really do think that it helps us an awful lot to get away from our computer screens for just a while; our brains get so tired working at them all day, only to eventually clock off and start surfing the web for fun! I always schedule short breaks right throughout the year so that I get time to recover before heading back to work re-energised and more motivated than ever.

    • Marta Stelmaszak , on Nov 6, 2014 at 18:57 Reply

      Scheduling short breaks is a very good idea indeed, glad to hear it’s working for you, Marie.

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