Turning downtime into uptime

Our series of guest posts continues with Caroline Alberoni’s contribution today. Caroline is a Brazilian freelance translator and writes a a blog Carol’s Adventures in Translation, and can also be found on a wide variety of social media.

Turning downtime into uptime

Around November last year I had the longest downtime of my entire career – a career which is not all that long, mind you (a bit more than five years). Until then all my downtime periods lasted only a couple of days at the most, but this time was different. It lasted about a month. I did have projects, but they were scarce.

You are probably aware of the current crisis Brazil is going through at the moment, so I could not help freaking out a bit. We always try to prepare ourselves for this kind of situation, but the ugly truth is that we are never totally prepared at all. We try to stay calm and positive, but as the days go by we start questioning ourselves.

But questioning is good.

People often say that it is in times of crisis that we innovate the most, and that is because we leave our comfort zone and try to find new ways of surviving the hard time – at least that is what wise people do, while others only whine. Downtime periods are not any different.

I always say that the more things we have to do, the more we want to do, and the same holds true for the opposite. So working should be our first reaction to no-project periods, because an empty mind can drive us crazy. Fine, after resting and relaxing a bit (being careful not to overdo it). Those periods are actually useful, because we can do things we do not usually have enough time to do on a daily basis, if we are busy with translation projects. So we catch up with things that were being postponed on our to-do list, but we can also advance other activities to help us speed up our working routine when it gets back on track.

Here’s what I did with the free time I had during my last downtime:

  1. Finally created my YouTube channel – something I had been postponing for a long time.
  2. Updated all my social media channels. Although I try to regularly post things, sometimes I get too busy and don’t have enough time.
  3. Drafted guest posts; some of my blog guests had already delivered so, when the publish date arrived, the only thing I would need to do would be to hit “Publish”. (This certainly helped a lot later on.)
  4. Drafted a couple of blog posts and had ideas for future topics.
  5. Started drafting new copy for my website.
  6. Organized my financial and accounting life (both personal and professional).
  7. Gave some thought to how I could differentiate my services.

 What else can be done?

  1.  Catch up with reading amazing blogs we do not usually have enough time to follow.
  2. Get back in touch with old clients who haven’t been sending projects for a while.
  3. Reach out to potential clients.
  4. Take the time to get in touch with colleagues. For those with whom we already have contact, check on them, see how they are doing, what they are up to, thank or congratulate them for something cool they have done/shared/written. For those we are not in touch with, but would like to be, check their online channels and start a conversation by saying how much we admire them.
  5. Work on our marketing/business plan.
  6. Update our CV.
  7. Check interesting eCPD opportunities to be taken now or in the future.

I’m sure you can find other productive and important things to do. The secret is to stick to your regular working hours and make yourself useful by keeping yourself busy with extra work activities that are as important as work itself. Besides helping you not to freak out (too much, at least), in the end, you end up being as productive as if you were translating – if not more. The secret is to always use the time you have wisely.


  1. Your last downtime sounded quite enjoyable. I normally end up doing things which suffer during extremely busy periods, such as administrative tasks, terminology updates, and “work” reading, but not before I have had some time away from the office, normally in the garden or enjoying a nice meal.

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