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Barbara Jungwirth of reliable translations llc writes about language and the business of translation.

Working Away From Home – Lessons Learned

My grandsonSpending three weeks in Philadelphia recently to help my daughter with her new baby taught me a few things about working away from the office for an extended period.

Forwarding your business phone may cost more: Before leaving New York, I forwarded my business landline to my cell phone, so existing and potential clients could still reach me directly. With unlimited voice minutes in my current cell phone plan, the unsolicited sales calls and wrong numbers that were also forwarded didn’t cost anything extra – but they might have under a more limited plan.

Using your phone to handle e-mail may cost more: While voice minutes may be unlimited, data often is not. In New York, my phone connects to the WiFi network at home, so checking and responding to e-mail doesn’t use up cell phone data. In Philadelphia, I was often checking my e-mail and negotiating projects from my phone while at my daughter’s, without connecting to WiFi. As a result, I exceeded my data limit and had to buy a block of additional data services. The lesson for the next time: make sure to connect to WiFi whenever possible.

Tracking your projects may be harder: In New York, I print out the purchase order or confirmation e-mail for each project, and use the printout to keep track of the time Spent on the project, note special terminology, etc. While my apartment in Philadelphia came with WiFi, there was no printer access. I improvised with a small notepad, one page per project, accidentally assigning the same number to two different projects, which complicated my tracking efforts. Everyone did get their projects on time, but life could have been easier. The lesson for the future (maybe not yet next time): ditch the printouts (better for the environment, too) and establish a digital-only workflow system (with backups!).

Juggling grandmother duties and projects may impair your productivity: Since my daughter doesn’t have extra space, I stayed in a furnished apartment a few trolley stops from her. This setup did provide a nice separation between being a grandmother and being a translator. However, while I could handle e-mails when I was at my daughter’s place, I couldn’t actually work on projects, even if mother and baby were both asleep. The lesson for next time: babysit my grandson where I am staying to take advantage of his nap times.

Later this month, I will be back in Philadelphia for a week while my daughter returns to work before her summer break. Time to implement these lessons!