burnout freelancer

How to avoid burnout as a freelance translator

Or as a freelance business owner.

This post title should come with a question mark at the end. Burnout has so many forms and can affect you in so many ways that you are never really ready to deal with it even if you have in the past.

The reasons that cause burnout for freelance translators, and small business owners in general, are diverse.

The term “work fatique” is also used to describe the situation when we feel we have given our job too much space in our life and mindset.

Some of the symptoms of burnout for freelancers include among others:

High level of anxiety and a constant flow of adrenaline * Lack of motivation *  Feelings of helplessness and futility * Self-criticism  and the feeling of always being on the run for something and that time is never enough – an overwhelming sense of urgency.

Does that sound like your daily mantra?

burnout freelancers

How to avoid it – or, if it’s too late, deal with it?

First of all, acknowledge the possibility that you might be suffering from, or are at the verge of a burnout.

Take a deep breath and try to identify what stresses you out the most in order to take the relevant action which will really help you feel better.

Is your work load too much? Partner up with a fellow translator, outsource more, hire a part-time translator for some of your projects, plan forward so that you won’t leave everything until the day before the deadline.

Are your clients giving you a hard time? Fire the worst of them. There are plenty of articles out there about “How to fire your clients” and why it is a healthy thing to do. Don’t be afraid to interrupt working relationships that are simply not working for you.

Are you exhausted of your business being an one-person-show? Try delegating more. Find a good financial advisor, hire a Virtual Assistant or a temp. This will leave you time to do what you love more in this world: translating (or procrastinating while pretending to be translating).

Are you giving yourself a hard time? Get some rest. Take some time for yourself. Read my article about why it really pays off to go on holiday if you are not convinced. Trust me, when they say “You can’t pour from an empty bottle” they do have a point. Even if you cannot go on holiday (for any reason) take some time to recharge throughout the day or once a week. Have a “you” day in the week or a “free” hour in your day when you will be able to do whatever you feel like doing – no errands or “must-dos”. Just fun and relaxing things.

Are you always out of time? Set longer deadlines. You are afraid your clients won’t want to work with you if you can’t deliver in 2 days time? Well, delivering mediocre work because of your total fatigue and lack of motivation, is definitely worse, don’t you think?

And don’t forget, we translators (and freelancers) may love our jobs but there are more things in life! Take care of yourself first!

How do you experience burnout as freelancers, as translators or as small business owners?

Let me know your stories and your tips in the comments.

Freelancers' burnout



13 thoughts on “How to avoid burnout as a freelance translator

  1. Renata Fernandes says:

    Hi. Thanks for talking about this sensitive issue. I have suffered burnout before (not as a translator, though) and what I think would have helped me avoid it was to notice the first signs: fatigue, insomnia, restlessness etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Foteini says:

      Thank you for your comment Renata. I think you are 100% right. Realising you are about to burnout is the most important thing so that you can take proper measures. How did you manage to get over it?


  2. Anonymous says:

    I feel that!
    I have already suffered from bournout, including there was a time I wasn’t able to move my arms due to the amount of working I was doing, without having time to myself, to exercise, to live!
    It was important for me to realize that I needed to stop working so much, though…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Foteini says:

      Hello Anonymous. THank you for sharing your thoughts! How did you manage go balance work and personal life without feeling that you are losing out in one or the other?
      Any tips?


  3. Gabriela says:

    Regular mindfulness-based practices (yoga, walks in nature, Yoga Nidra, etc.) and a few small adjustments to your diet will also make you more resilient. It may also help you reassess your priorities and eventually realise that good health is more important than the chase for the next achievement…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Foteini says:

      @estonian translator I wish I could do the same! I am planning a short trip (1week) next month so I hope I will return as refreshed and inspired as you did after your trip! Did you not do any work during your trip?How did your business survive? Any tips? 🙂


  4. Christalie says:

    Hi. it’s not easy to work as a translator and on top of it as a freelancer. As of me the work load comes along too much at one time and sometimes nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

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