Why do we work so much?

Well, roughly, because we don’t [know how to] plan our time and tasks. Consequently, we have no perspective of how much money we need to earn on a monthly basis and we have a hard time selecting projects to accept and/or to reject. The result: working for long hours, weekends and holidays, taking little time to rest and enjoy our loved ones when we don’t even know if this is really a MUST.




I had a poor idea of the concept of planning, but it all became clearer when I started having contact with more experienced translators and learning more about concepts that are valid for freelance professionals from different industries.

For sure there are many aspects we can’t control – as an empty-handed period that will impact our finances and some situations that prevent us from working (for instance, an illness). On the other hand, we can assume that such unanticipated, negative events won’t happen and that the work flow will remain solid. Staying positive is the key!


This post written by Adriana de Araújo Sobota for “ao principiante” – a blog about the translation industry and related subjects created by Lorena Leandro – sums it all. The blog is in Portuguese, so let me summarise in English some ideas she presents:


  1. Keep track of how many words you can translate per hour. Adriana actually talks about how much one hour of your work costs. Both metrics work just fine.
  2. Determine how much money you have to earn in order to pay your bills, make investments in your career (such as improving working conditions, attending to conferences, buying dictionaries, etc.) and live with some comfort.
  3. Based on that figure, determine how many hours you have to work per day so you can reach such income.


      Check more about income here.

This amount of hours will set the tone. If the result is 20 working hours per day, then you have a problem and you need to try to solve this. If your estimation does not take weekends and holidays into account, you might want to re-think and work a few more days per month, so you can work fewer hours per day.

Another option is to re-think the rates you are charging, but this is such an extensive subject that it requires its own post.

Try these steps and you will note the difference. It is even possible that you find out that you can take some days off, instead of working 30 days per month or very long shifts per day, but haven’t realized that yet.

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