This is a guest blog written by our Canadian colleague David Beckett.
David provides German to English Translation Services and started his own translation agency in Vancouver, Canada. Over the past few years, he has been able to acquire comprehensive experience in the e-commerce space, social media marketing and financial space. He now runs a translation blog on his website talking about international matters.
The community of freelance translators and interpreters are well versed to working from home.
But during COVID-19 this is a now a legal requirement in the UK.
What is different?
First of all, you now are supposed to be at home all day.
You are not allowed to go to the gym, cafes, or other public places anymore. Even with regulations lifted, we are still not able to see our friends and family outside of our homes either.
So, the question becomes, what do you do to maintain high productivity levels and also your physical and mental well-being in tune?
I am of the opinion that a crisis like this comes with tremendous opportunities.
I will now outline a set of habits that I have been trying to develop and implement for myself to make the most of this challenging time and come out of it stronger.
Those habits do not only help my productivity as a translator, but also improve my overall happiness, as well as my physical and mental health.
Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”
Habit No. 1: Exercise and Sun Exposure
Exercise is essential in regards to productivity and health.
There has been a vast number of studies that have proven to show over and over again that exercise leads to a huge energy and productivity boost.
The form of exercise is not as important.
Fortunately, there is a lot of exercises you can choose to do without a gym.
Walking is great because you get sun exposure.
Sun exposure in the morning helps your productivity and happiness, as it increases Vitamin D.
The benefits of walking are that it is easy to get started.
A 10-20-minute walk twice a day (or longer if you have the time) will change your mood.
I usually do the first one in the morning (before I eat) to get some early morning sun exposure. This will help me wake up and get on with my day.
I like to plan and make my schedule for the day during my walk.
Walking also has a meditative effect.
I usually do my second walk around lunchtime, but you can choose anytime that works with your schedule, as translators can have tight deadlines at times.
Yoga is an amazing way to start your day and stay in shape during this difficult time.
If you are lucky and have a yard or garden and live somewhere sunny, you could even do your yoga practice outside.
As translators and interpreters, we sit a for large part of our day. One of the ways to counter that problem is to include a yoga practice specifically for your posture in your daily routine.
If you want to do yoga, YouTube is a great place to start. There is an abundance of highly skilled yoga instructors.
Start with a 10-20 minute video and work your way up.
- Lifting weights / bodyweight training
If you want to build muscle or stay lean / burn fat during this period, a bodyweight routine is your best bet.
My routine typically includes push-ups, core workouts and leg training.
One round usually takes 20-40 minutes, and I try to do this 2-3 times a week.
Jogging is amazing during this difficult time because it combines a hard workout and being outside.
30-40 minutes out is more than sufficient.
Also, it is very important to choose a physical activity that fits your personal circumstances, schedule and goals.
If you do not want to build muscle or tone up, you do not need to do bodyweight exercises.
I would suggest to find a mix that works for you.
My weekly physical activity usually looks like this:
Monday: 20-minute walk in the morning sun (I live in Vancouver), 20-40 minute bodyweight training before lunch
Tuesday: 20-minute yoga in the morning sun. 15-20 minute walk before lunch
Wednesday: 20-minute walk before breakfast – 20-30 minute jog at lunch
Thursday: 10-minute yoga practice in the morning – 40 minute bodyweight training
Friday: 20 minute walk before brekakfast – longer walk / yoga in the sun in the afternoon
This is what I do during the week to stay in good physical health.
But I adjust daily depending on my schedule and what I feel like.
The crucial part is to do something, not everything.
Habit 2: Connecting with others
I make an effort now every day to connect with friends and family who.
We are not supposed to be together physically, but we can still connect and be social via the phone, internet, etc.
During my morning walks, I schedule 10-30 minutes to call someone that I care about.
This can be my parents or friends I have not talked to for a while.
However, if you do not feel social that particular day, don’t worry about it.
Everyone is different and not everyone needs and wants to (virtually) socialise every day.
When I contact my friends and family, I use either Skype, WhatsApp or Social Media.
Some of my relationships with my friends and family have significantly improved because of this crisis.
Effort matters regardless of what medium and time you use to connect.
Habit 3: Self-Education
Work might be slow during this difficult time.
I had two quiet weeks.
I anticipated it and embraced that opportunity to learn something new.
I started to learn more about the stock market and social media marketing, but you can choose whatever you interests you.
This might be a new new hobby like the piano or guitar etc.
Or this could include a marketing program or a class in SEO.
Maybe you have been thinking of picking up another language.
This is an excellent opportunity to developing the habit of language learning!
Bonus Habit 4: Meditation and Gratitude
It might seem hard to stay optimistic and be grateful for what we have right now.
However, I am trying to implement a meditation and / or gratitude practice in the morning.
Fortunately, there are a plenty of helpful, free apps for meditation, such as Calm or Headspace.
Those help to learn about meditation and shift focus on all the good aspects that we all certainly still have in our lives.
When it comes to gratitude, I make a small list of 3-5 things I am grateful for each day.
Those might and should include simple commodities, such as water, foods that I like, or people in my life who I love.
I then go and write 3-5 sentences explaining in more detail why and how I am grateful for that one particular thing.
By doing so, this helps me to actually experience gratitude for that particular person, food, or whatever it might be I am grateful for in that very moment.
Behaviour changes are hard.
It is essential to understand that implementing new habits is a difficult and long process.
My recommendation would be: Start small.
Consistency is more important than in intensity.
Small beginnings, such as a 10-minute walk is a lot more convenient than a 40-minute workout.
Meditating for 10 minutes is a smaller commitment than 20 minutes.
One method that has worked well for me is to create space in the morning before I start my translation work.
I make sure that I have time to take care of myself first and prioritise to start my day with a healthy morning routine.
My current routine includes a 10-20 minute walk/yoga session followed by learning / reading something new (books about the stock market / social media marketing etc.).
Afterwards, I go and meditate and write down what I am grateful for.
Finally, I connect with someone I care about and ask them how they are feeling.
I do this every day before I turn on any device / look at screens.
It makes me a lot happier and more productive at the same time.