With the festive season approaching, now is the time to think about how to make the best use of your summer and plan for your post-holiday return to work. Summer can mean a slowdown in business as clients take their holidays and offices are closed, so it’s a good time to catch up on tasks on your to do list and make sure you are ready for 2024. Here are some suggestions for a relaxing and productive summer:
- Buddy up and offload
It can be hard to take a break when you are a freelancer as you don’t want to be unavailable for your regular clients. One solution is to find another translator or interpreter in your language pair who can cover for you while you’re away. Maintain that relationship across the years as it’s handy to have a back-up person when you have too much work, are dealing with an unexpected life event or want a break.
- Set your out of office and manage your notifications
Make sure your clients know you are not available without needing to reply to their queries while you’re on holiday by setting an out of office message. You can also remind quieter clients that you exist by proactively sending them an email with your summer availability before you head off on holiday. And if you get work notifications on your phone or tablet, consider turning them off while you’re away so you can completely disconnect and unwind.
- Sort out your finances and evaluate your business
Summer is a good time to make sure your receipts are filed, your reconciliation is up to date, your home office expenses are recorded, your GST-returns are completed, and your budget for the next year is planned. This is also a good time to evaluate your business in terms of income, expenditure, budget and milestones to see how you are tracking for the current financial year.
- Expand your skillset
Keep on top of your professional development while your workload is lighter by taking a course to upskill, maintain your language skills, or specialise further. It is essential for freelancers in any profession to continue to expand their skills and be prepared to adapt. You could make the most of the fact that the northern hemisphere isn’t on holiday and do an online course in January. Or simply schedule some time to brush up your language skills by reading, watching TV and chatting with other native speakers.
- Work on your online presence
When did you last work on your website, blog, LinkedIn profile or even Facebook page? If it has been a while, summer may be the perfect time to catch up. Keeping your online presence updated and dynamic is a great way to show everybody that you’re still in business and don’t plan on going anywhere.
- Plan your marketing for the year
If you’ve noticed a drop in demand for your services or are getting bored with your current projects, now is the time to think about attracting new clients through marketing. You could take time to target specific potential clients or mass-market yourself to a larger number.
- Read up on industry developments
With machine translation, AI and chatbots a hot topic, invest some time to read up on new technology, how it’s affecting the T&I industry, and how to use it responsibly and to your full advantage. There are plenty of articles and webinars available so you can even engage with the topic while relaxing in the sun.
- Consider diversification
If work has been slow for you in the past year, one way forward may be for you to consider diversifying the services you offer. This may be related to your current profession or in a completely different industry. Taking the time over summer to reflect on this option means that you will be ready to implement your plan when you head back to work.
- Enjoy a break
Of course, you also need to make sure you take time for yourself and have a good break so you feel refreshed and ready to tackle a new year. Not having a lot of work to do can actually be a blessing in disguise. Take a break. Recharging your batteries is just as important as anything else so go enjoy some sunshine and relaxation.
- Give yourself back-to-work buffer days
The hardest part about going back to work is often the first day. There are always plenty of emails and voicemails to respond to, software updates to wait for, and other tasks to take care of before you’re back up to full speed. You probably also feel like you’re still in holiday mode! So consider starting to look at your work a day or so before the official date you have given your clients for your return. And if you can’t schedule in a buffer day, perhaps take it slow on the first day to ease yourself back in.
Author: Kathryn Malan
Photo credit: Pedro Lasta on Unsplash