This past week, I said adios to full-time teaching and hola to full-time translating. The last three years I have been getting up before the sun to squeeze a few hundred words in before heading to school. On my lunch break, I became quite skilled at answering emails with one hand while scarfing down a sandwich using the other. Then, after dinner I’d curl up on the couch to finish any translation while insisting that I was definitely watching the Cav’s game (wait, who just made that shot? Thank God for replays). I worked every weekend, all weekend. All of this to the detriment of my back, my marriage, my energy level, and my social life.

I am so looking forward to a new rhythm of life, perhaps still chaotic and busy, but at least I can focus on being great at one job. I am also looking forward to creating a schedule and space that work for me and allow me to maximize productivity. Here’s what I need to create this:

  1. Reliable hardware with sufficient RAM

While I love my Macbook, and it is still pretty reliable considering its age, I needed something that could run translation software programs without sounding like it was ready for lift off. Based on reviews, friend recommendation, and the price, I purchased an Asus Zenbook. The jury is still out on how I feel about Windows 10. I’m also nervous about compatibility issues with some of my CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools, but that’s for another post. For now, I’m trying to become a PC person. Yikes!

  1. Ergonomic workspace

My back and neck are already thanking me for purchasing the Wobble Stool from Uncaged Ergonomics. It is a perfect addition to my adjustable sit/stand desk. I try to alternate standing and sitting every 30 to 40 minutes, which gives me an opportunity to move and get my steps (Hey, Fellow Fit Bit Buddies!). I also elevate my monitors to make sure that they are at eye level, so that my neck stays straight.


  1. Homey office space

A few months before making the official transition, I painted my home office. I needed a place that felt like my own. I organized my bookshelf so that all my dictionaries are within reach. My small mola collection and art from a local artist will be added to the walls very soon. Is this what they call nesting?

  1. ¡Música, Maestro!

My workspace is not complete without a little music. This article gives some interesting insight into what kind of music can be distracting and what can increase productivity. Here are my favorite albums to play while I work.

William Tyler – Impossible Truth -Indie-Folk-Rock-Pop guitar

Sigur Ros – Med Sud I Eyrum – Icelandic post-rock

Pride and Prejudice soundtrack

These three albums are either instrumental or a language I don’t speak (Icelandic!). If I listen to music with words in a language I understand, I inevitably starting singing along (which is why Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” will forever be banned from my work playlist) or paying attention to the lyrics instead of just allowing it to be background noise.

And last but not least…

  1. A human-sized dog bed for Timo.

When I didn’t have a place for him to lay down in the office, this ball of energy would just wander around and demand my full attention. Since he is a one-year-old puppy, I really don’t expect him to be a calm anytime soon, but this at least gives him a place to chill out while I work. I also have an arsenal of hooves, peanut butter Kongs, and rib bones to keep him distracted until we can get out for a walk.


With all of the above, I am ready to jump into the full-time freelancing world!

What do you need to be productive in your workspace?