Zen and working methods

A very interesting article in the Law Society Gazette last week about flexible working patterns grabbed my attention. Here is a taster: “The term ‘work/life balance’ has such negative connotations in private practice that some firms have banned it from their vocabulary.” The article deals particularly with the problems female lawyers have, but not only – it also talks about flexibility enabling men to pursue parallel careers as well, “such as writing a book or singing in a choir”.

Translators, on the other hand, rather than having the problem of getting out of the office, sometimes have a problem with staying at home too much. A great post over at Patenttranslator’s Blog – “Translator’s Dementia (TD) – What it is and How to recognize the Signs” includes a lovely description of the typical “home office” :). Jill Sommer, on the other hand, gave some really good advice for those who work at home in her 2009 post “Establishing a work-life balance and overcoming loneliness“.

So, following in the estimable footsteps above, here’s my seven-point guide.

Sustenance

Two situations can arise here – lawyers or interpreters may suffer from too many “restaurant lunches”, but those working from home may either eat too much or forget to eat (depending on their disposition). Rush jobs may also mean that you often eat the first or the fastest thing available. Stable sugar levels equals Zen!

Seating

It’s very easy to work on the sofa / kitchen table. However, if you’re spending 12 hours in front of a screen (on a good day 😉 ) make sure that you are positioned correctly. There’s even software that can remind you not to slouch. Apart from proper office chairs, some people go for exercise balls or kneeling stools (I tried and was in agony, but my architect friend swears by his).

Sleep

I already posted about this at New Year (must be an obsession!) – but sleep can really make a difference. If you work at home, take a leaf out of the Italians’ books and try a siesta (before they became known as ‘power naps’, grrrr!). And when you do have to wake up, try this iPhone app to be woken gently…

Sport

It’s been said over and over again, but sport really does clear the mind and give you more energy. I’m definitely not sporty (think the last one to get picked for teams at school, always!) but a regular swim is the only way for me to stay sane. Plus it works off those pounds gained sitting at the computer.

Socialise

Social networks and the Internet are a way to keep or get in touch with people all over the world, which is amazing. But don’t forget to cultivate those real-world experiences too! In terms of networking for business purposes, it seems to me that face-to-face still can’t really be beaten.

 Study

Life-long learning is so much easier than it used to be. Distance learning is also a great option for working professionals. I find that studying and doing research in parallel to my work actually relaxes me, rather than adding an extra burden. Keeps the brain sharp too. And of course the subject of your study doesn’t have to be work-related.

Schedule

Your friends may imagine that working from home is easy and relaxing. So what about clients calling you or emailing at 7 am / 9 pm (and expecting you to be there)? We know that managing time well decreases stress levels (& frees up more time for doing leisure activities). My tip is list what you have to do and relist at least twice a day.

I look forward to hearing how you stay Zen!
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3 thoughts on “Zen and working methods

  1. Pingback: Weekly favorites (May 7-13) | Adventures in Freelance Translation

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