From M.P.: I have problems with fatigue when I am translating something (as is almost always the case) that is boring or that is written in an ambiguous way that requires a lot of mental work to analyse. I find I cannot go more than 15 minutes without a break, and then the problem is ending the break and getting back to the miserable translation task. I find that I can get back to the translation task easier, and continue with it a few minutes longer, if I have spent my break time doing something stimulating, such as deciphering ancient manuscripts or papyri. What would be your advice?
The Translator’s Aunt: Dear M.P., from what you write it doesn’t seem like you’re enjoying your job too much at the moment, you even call it “miserable”. Fatigue can impact all of us, but it shouldn’t be a constant state of affairs. Everyone works at a different pace and rhythm, so whether you take a 5 min break every 15 mins or 15 mins every hour, the only thing that matters is that you do what feels right. At least once an hour, get up, stretch, have a cup of tea, play with the dog/cat/friendly spider, rather than staying bent over and eyes fixed on an ancient manuscript. And make sure you limit the length of your workday, that you take a couple of days off work each week and that you allow yourself holidays to rest and relax.
Beyond that, if you find the documents that you are translating too boring, then you should think about where you might find work that would be more interesting. Would that involve focusing more on a different language pair? Searching for direct clients with whom you can communicate better about ambiguities in the text? Or maybe delving into a new specialisation that will bring more joy and satisfaction to your daily work? Getting stuck in miserable routines is detrimental to our well-being and doesn’t help us advance our business. Think about what you’d like to change about your career, set yourself some new goals, and I’m sure you’ll discover a renewed motivation to work towards them.