What I do

Account of a typical working week for me:

Monday

The week is off to a good start with the review of an Informed Consent Form (ICF) for an experimental cancer treatment. As a reviewer, it is my job to check whether the translator has reproduced everything correctly: how the study drug works, what subjects can expect at each visit during the study, which risks and side effects may occur, and how data protection is ensured in line with the European GDPR.

I also check if the wording is optimised for the target audience. This is particularly important when addressing young people. For the study drug I’m dealing with today, a multimedia package will be available to the youngest patients, including a cartoon and an animated clip. I’ve been asked to translate those at a later stage. Someone else will then do the review.

Tuesday

A day filled with small jobs. First, one last look at the proofs of a brochure about a new insulation system that I translated a while ago. Is everything in the right place, no words hyphenated in odd places, nothing accidentally left untranslated? Next, I process an update of the user interface of a medical software program I’ve been involved with for several years. As I know it well, all goes smoothly.

After lunch, I translate the communication protocol for medical visitors of a major supplier of medical devices and revise a Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) for a medicine that will soon be on the market.

Wednesday

In the morning, I have a Zoom meeting with a new agency – exciting! The meeting goes well, they’re impressed by my portfolio and expertise. We quickly agree on the scope of work, rates and payment terms. The project, a series of e-learning courses for an international tech company, is fairly large. We decide on staggered delivery so that I can implement feedback from the tech company experts along the way. When I indicate that I could start on the first files mid-next week, the agency is pleasantly surprised. Less than an hour later, the purchase order is in my mailbox, along with the brief, the files to work on, and the reference material.

After checking that I’ve got everything I asked for, I confirm receipt and put the files in a separate folder. In the meantime, I have also received the files for a project that I’ll be working on for the rest of the week: the maintenance manual for a ventilator machine.

Thursday

An hour or so into my work on the ventilator machine, a panicked e-mail arrives from one of my regular clients. Their translator fell ill – could I take over? It’s the terms and conditions and privacy statement of a British sustainability start-up looking to do business in the Netherlands. Fortunately, I always leave some slots empty when setting my deadlines. Nine times out of ten, these slots are filled with “rush jobs” – like now.

At the end of the day, the client is pleased, and so am I. Tomorrow might be a bit tight, though. I’ll have to set the alarm extra early.

Friday

On this day I often exchange weekend plans with clients and colleagues. Because no matter how busy we all are, there should always be time for a chat. I work from home, and sometimes only meet the four-legged members of our household at the proverbial water cooler for a mew 🐾🐾🐾🐾. (Their weekend plans? Eat, play, sleep).

Because of the early start, I finish my work much earlier than I thought. Great! This gives me time to catch up on paperwork and run the daily backup. I also sort out my digital filing system. After delivering a text, I’m always available for questions or problems, in which case I have to act quickly. So a cleverly arranged and consistently used digital filing system is tremendously useful.

Weekend

What, working on the weekend? No way! Don’t worry, I’ll be quick.

The tech company I’ll be working for next week has come up with all kinds of solutions for energy saving. It’s quite fun to read up on their work and bookmark interesting websites about the subject.

And now, let the weekend begin! This time I join our furry friends: eat, play, and sleep. After almost 25 years as a self-employed professional, I’m pretty good at setting boundaries. Complex tasks during the week, simple pleasures over the weekend. That’s how I clear my mind.