Four Productivity Tips for Translators and Interpreters

Many of us fall into the trap of trying to follow what works for others, and not what we need as translators, interpreters, or other language services professionals.

Although language professionals and other business owners have many things in common, still our work involves a lot of mental activity. Freelance translators and interpreters execute tasks of different types to ensure success in their career as they carry out translation, interpretation, marketing, administration, and customer service tasks almost every day.

I read and listen to many productivity tips and hacks, and found that some of them worked for me though some did not. This does not mean they were wrong.

Some of these hacks may work when I have less translation work to be done, while they may not work when I am involved in a busy month full of translation assignments. However, there are some productivity tips that worked for me no matter what the situation is.

I’m sharing those tips with you in this article.

Let’s dive in.

Tip #1: Know what you will do tomorrow (Take this one only please!)

If you walk away with one tip from this article, this is the one.

Planning the next day will help you save a huge amount of time and energy when you start the actual work. Instead of setting for an hour to plan what you will do in the morning, you will wake up knowing exactly what to do.

Start with your tasks as much as you can. Once you are done with one task, the feeling of accomplishment will push you to do the next one.

For example, if you have a running translation assignment, plan how many words you will do the next day and at what time. If do not have one, you may want to plan your marketing activities, such as how many clients you will contact tomorrow, or plan how you will update your website LinkedIn profile.

Even when your day may not go as planned (things happen), you need to be persistent and try to apply this as much as you can. This will give you great results in time.

Tip #2: Remove Work Distractions

Translators and interpreters are surrounded by many distractions; smartphone notifications, email notifications, online meetings with clients, searching Google for terminology of a new translation task, etc…

As long as you work online, you are facing a huge wave of distractions.

If we do not control these distractions, many of our working hours will be lost.

The first step to remove distractions is to track how you use your computer.

Personally, I like to use the Rescuetime web app. The app records what I do on my computer and categorizes these activities into business, entertainment, social, etc… Each week I receive a report in my inbox about my weekly activities. I know exactly which applications I used most and how many hours I worked on my business.

This helps me to focus on my real tasks and not the distracting ones.

Tip #3: Allocate time for similar tasks

As freelancer translators and interpreters, we need to wear many hats. We have to do translation or interpretation tasks, marketing tasks, administrative tasks, customer service tasks, and more.

If you can not hire someone to help you with some of these tasks, then you need to know the best way to do them effectively.

I like the group-batching principle. This simply means doing similar tasks together at the same time.

For example, do all your invoicing tasks at one time, the same goes for your similar online marketing activities. I used to do all my invoices on the 29th of each month, and my marketing activities at night. This helped me become more creative in these tasks and I could complete them quickly and effectively.

Tip #4: Know your peak hours

This does not mean only knowing if you are an early morning person or a night owl.

Maybe you are a mother who needs to take care of her children in the morning and their homework at night! What would be her peak hours then?

Knowing your peak hours mean the time you can be more productive. Usually this is a time with fewer distractions when you feel more energetic.

Your peak hours also may depend on the time of the year or your social calendar.

Personally, I like to wake up early before the kids go to school and do some creative work, but today, I felt I needed some energy so I worked out for one hour and said goodbye to the kids when their mother was taking them to school.

Know your peak hours and be prepared to change them according to your situation.


There are many systems and advice about how to become more productive. Not all advice may apply to your case. You will have to try some of these advices until you figure out what really works for you.

Always be ready to adapt. There is no one successful productivity system, but there are common rules to follow.

Comment below and let us know how productive you are and which tip you liked the most.

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  1. Hello Sherif,
    Thank you very much for these spot-on tips.
    With regards to work distractions, I would also suggest adding an extension to block certain websites which are not work-related. I personally saved some precious time blocking my private email, favourite news website, and so on.
    Hope this helps 🙂

    1. Sherif Abuzid says:

      Hi Rita,

      Sure, this one will definitely help. I think there is a chrome extension you can use to block these sites. I will try to get you the extension name once I am back to the office early next week.


      1. Hi Sherif,
        Thank you for your reply!
        I use Block Site which is available with both Chrome and Firefox.
        Have a great week

        1. Sherif Abuzid says:

          Hi Rita,

          Will check the Block Sie extension for sure.



  2. Hello Sherif,
    These are all excellent suggestions; thank you! I am guilty of not following your first suggestion all the time, so I will start with that one today.
    Thank you,
    Roxane Dow

    1. Sherif Abuzid says:

      Hi Roxane,

      The first tip is the most important one, just start with watch the productivity magic happens 🙂

      Let us know in a couple of weeks how this affects you.


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