Coworking – the experience so far

Eighteen months ago, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and went to a shared office for the first time, as I wrote here.

Since then, I’ve been going to the Capsule on pretty much a weekly basis (except over this summer when it was too hot to contemplate going there). And I haven’t looked back!

capsule

The Reims coworking is a lovely relaxed place. Most of the other coworkers are also in fairly creative fields – graphic design, marketing and communications – and in terms of local networking, it’s really been great. I’ve gained several clients and made contact with people who could help offer a ‘full’ range of services to my existing clients. The rules for the Capsule are fairly straight-forward, and boil down to common sense and courtesy – we leave the shared space to make phone calls or chat, and people volunteer to keep a record of who is there each day.

In terms of practicalities, I take my laptop and work through a little piece of software called TeamViewer, which allows me to access everything on my desktop computer – no need to transfer documents to the cloud, or buy two different licences for the CAT tools I use. It works really well 99% of the time – although does rely on a fairly fast, reliable internet connection.

I have found that there are certain things I can’t do at the Capsule. Very creative translations are complicated, as I like to read sentences aloud to see how they flow, and proofreading is much easier on my two large screens than my little laptop. But on the other hand, very repetitive translations seem to go much more quickly when I can’t distract myself with other things! So now I organise my projects to make it work.

For me, coworking has become essential – it allows me to get out of the house and interact with like-minded people without losing out on valuable working time. Spending one day a week there is the perfect compromise between working from home and renting my own office space, and I’m interested to see how the space develops in the future.

Review: How the Brain Works Workshop

In September, I was lucky enough to attend the ITIMedNet workshop that took place at Royal Holloway College near London. This location had a very special meaning for me on a personal level, as my grandmother read biochemistry at Royal Holloway at a time when very few women had access to higher education.

Royal Holloway College

The workshop took place over two days, with presentations by leading scientists in the field of neuroscience, practical workshops and plenty of time for networking.

This was the first ITIMedNet workshop that I attended, and I was particularly impressed by the calibre of the speakers. Despite neuroscience not being one of my areas of expertise, I was able to follow all three presentations and learnt a great deal. Subjects covered included how we comprehend speech, what happens when areas in the brain dedicated the speech understanding and production are damaged, and the effect external influences have on our ability to produce speech (ever lose your train of thought because someone else started speaking?). Sandra has a more detailed discussion of the presentation on The Deep End blog.

I also felt that the practical translations sessions were very beneficial. As someone who is still relatively new to the world of translation, I found it very interesting to listen to more experienced colleagues discussing the finer points of the texts that we were given to work on. The texts themselves were carefully selected, with plenty of technical terminology and interesting phrases for us to unpack.

The areas of the brain we focused on

Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area are key for producing and understanding speech

The organisers also put together a rich social programme, which allowed us to make the most of the weekend with colleagues. The visit to Holloway Sanatorium, now converted into luxury housing, led by former nurse who had worked there, was a particular highlight. The gala dinner, held in the Royal Holloway picture gallery, was also very enjoyable and a great opportunity to network with colleagues.

ITIMedNet

There are very few translation events geared towards medical translation specifically, and one of the major benefits of the ITIMedNet workshops, in addition to the excellent CPD, is the opportunity to meet other medical translators at different stages of their career. I am already looking forward to the next one!

Catching up – what’s new?

I didn’t really mean to stop blogging back last October, it just kind of happened. And then the longer I left it, the harder it became to start again. But, inspired by Sarah Dillon’s sort your social campaign on Facebook and Twitter, I decided it was time to get back into the swing of things.

So, what’s been happening over the last year?

Change

Firstly, business is booming! I really have no complaints there. I’m gradually working my way up to higher paying clients, and getting increasingly interesting projects to work on. Despite a bit of a quiet time in August, after came back from holiday, demand has been good and I’m feeling very positive.

I’ve also got better at managing my time – I now have “office hours” and switch off the computer when I’m done for the day, rather than leaving it on and “just doing this little thing” after dinner. That’s not to say that I’m not flexible – the hours I work adapt to the projects I’ve got going on – it just means that my clients know when they can reach me and when I’m unlikely to reply to emails.

In terms of technology, I’ve updated to Trados 2015 and Windows 10. They both took a bit of getting used to, but I haven’t found any major bugs (I guess I’m a lucky one) and seem to be getting on quite nicely with both of them. I also recently downloaded Dragon NaturallySpeaking, although I’m not very used to it yet so you’ll have to wait for an update on that later.

Taking a look back at the goals I set way back at the start of 2014, I think I’m doing pretty well on them. I certainly feel a lot more confident, and that’s reflected in some of the things I’m currently taking on (more on those soon). I’ve gained some more direct clients, particularly thanks to the co- working I go to once a week, and I really enjoy the work I do for them. I now go to a weekly yoga class which not only helps get me out of the house, but is also doing wonders for my posture.

Well that’s it really – now you know what I’ve been up to over the last few months! It’s been a very busy, but also positive time and now I’m ready to move onwards and upwards!

MedTranslate Conference 2014

Just over a week ago, I was lucky enough to attend the MedTranslate Conference organised by The Alexandria Library and GxP Language Services in Germany. The conference was specifically designed for medical and pharmaceutical translators, making it one of the very few specialised translation events.

I’m by no means a conference pro, I’ve not been to many of them, but I do follow a lot of the events on twitter, and what struck me about MedTranslate was the level of professionalism shown by all of the attendees. There was very little complaining about rates, agencies or other issues that seem to be frequently discussed on various fora and blogs, but rather a clear feeling of being there to learn more about different aspects of medical translation.

Image via https://www.facebook.com/medical.translation.conference

Image via facebook

One thing that really stood out for me was the calibre of the speakers and the topics they chose to present. For each of the presentations I attended, the presenter was clearly an expert in the topic, and had a lot to teach us.

Of course, there was also a great deal of networking to be done, and it was lovely to meet some of the people I know through twitter or email in real life, and to meet a huge number of very interesting colleagues who share a similar vision for the translation profession in the future. I think it speaks very highly of the conference that many of us travelled quite a long way to get there (some even crossing the Atlantic for the weekend!), which definitely suggests that there is a gap in the market for more specialised translation conferences.

In amongst all of the information I picked up over the weekend (and wow, was it intense), I think there is one key area which we all felt needs further work – increasing the visibility of truly professional translators for clients. Siegfried Armbruster’s new idea of a faculty for medical translators was discussed at length, and it’s going to be really interesting to see whether it can fulfill his vision. Only time will tell!

Overall, I came back from MedTranslate feeling incredibly positive and inspired, full of ideas for the future. Hopefully this will mark the start of more specialised translation conferences, as it makes a nice change from the more general ones I’ve been to previously.

Other reviews of the conference (I’ll add more as I find them!):

Signs and Symptoms of Translation 

Mastermind Translations

The Confidence Plan – an update

I was really interested to read some of the feedback on my recent post about trying to be more confident, and promised to let you know how it goes, so here we are!

In the time since I set myself this challenge, I’ve been quite successful in keeping to the plan and doing something ‘scary’ most Mondays. Some examples of things I did:

  • contacted a client with whom I’d lost touch – they sent me some work the very same week!
  • rang the social security office and sorted a problem with my health insurance card (I think everything is eventually sorted with this!)
  • went to the optician (I had put this off as it involved calling and making an appointment – that’s the extent of my phone avoidance)
  • discussed a new project I’ll hopefully be able to tell you about soon
  • followed up a late payment straight away, rather than hoping for it to arrive later.

The Monday morning slot works well for me, as does preparing phone numbers etc. on Friday. I know a couple of people asked if that wouldn’t mean the action to be taken would be ‘hanging over me’ all weekend, but I haven’t really found that to be an issue. I’m quite good at separating work and non-work time in my head, so can avoid thinking about work when I’m not in my office. I think another important point is that these are all things I’ve been putting off for weeks and weeks, so they’ve been hanging over me for quite a while anyway! There’s something almost reassuring about knowing that there are only a few more days of worry left!calendar

I’ve found the whole process very rewarding so far – my little challenges are getting easier as I complete more of them, and the boost for the rest of the week is great motivation.

I’ve still got quite a way to go to be where I want to be in terms of confidence – I would like to be able to do this things without having to plan them in such detail first, but I can definitely see progress. I’m also feeling considerably less nervous than I usually would about meeting new people at the MedTranslate conference this weekend – in fact I’m looking forward to it!

 

How to stay positive on quiet days

After a very busy, productive July with several new clients and some really interesting projects, August has not been so positive (at least not so far, there’s still time!). In freelancing, we all know about the infamous feast and famine, and I’ve already posted some ideas on how to fill the time in famine periods, but today I want to talk about how to avoid the feeling that actually, the security of a full-time office job would really be quite nice…

 The big picture

When you’ve returned all those big projects and you suddenly find yourself at inbox (almost) empty, it can be easy to dwell on the negative aspects of being a freelancer – insecurity, unstable work and income, the infinite wait for that new project – and lose sight of the bigger picture. If your not-so-great period hasn’t been going on that long, try to take a step back and see the big picture – you NEED these calmer periods, for admin, for sleep and for your sanity! And remember that it’s only temporary (if you’re getting really worried, post on social media about how happy you are to have a day off – a sure-fire way to go from zero to crazy busy in no time ;-)).

 Be proactive

One of the most effective ways of stopping the clouds of negativity gathering overhead is to outrun them! Both literally and figuratively. Exercise is one of my favourite ways to avoid negative thoughts, so get your blood pumping, those endorphins flowing and a smile back on your face!

And once you get back to the office, get on with your to-do list. There are always things we’re putting off until the right time – it’s now! If you’ve really done everything (really? I don’t believe you!), check out my post here for some more ideas.

 Count your blessings

As freelancers, we are responsible for our own successes. But when things aren’t going so well, it can be easy to forget those successes and all the wonderful things we’ve already achieved – I mean, you’re running your own company, how amazing is that?! A while ago, I came across the idea of a ‘positivity jar’ and I think it’s really great. Basically, every time you are proud of something you’ve done, you write it down and put the piece of paper in a jar on your desk. And when you’re feeling down, you take out the papers and read back through all of your achievements until you start feeling better about your business and yourself.

My positivity jar (well, plant pot). It's a work in progress!

My positivity jar (well, plant pot). It’s a work in progress!

As always, I would love to hear any other ideas you have! How do you avoid the negative thoughts sneaking their way in when things are quiet?