Don’t pile it – file it
Record-keeping is boring, and most of us will find excuses to avoid it. But staying on top of it reduces stress and frees up time for the more creative aspects of translation.
How you keep your records is entirely up to you, but be systematic. Ideally update them after every job or payment, and at least once a week. Little and often really is less painful than infrequent but long sessions with piles of invoices or receipts. Knowing what to do when will help you to keep on top of payments and improve your cash flow. And you’ll have your ammunition ready when clients “haven’t received the invoice”, express wonder that payment is overdue, or claim they didn’t know what you charge.
Chances are you currently have a little more time on your hands to do administrative tasks then you usually would. So instead of focusing on the lack of paying work, perhaps this is the time to tackle that pile on your desk that has been waiting to be sorted for ages.
As I wrote in a previous post, I have a pre-sorting system, which gets properly filed every three months, so while there are some piles on my desk, none of them include any invoices, receipts or similar important things.
If you don’t have a system yet, or the system you are using doesn’t really work the way you want it to, find one that does. And make sure it is one that is sustainable in the long term, too, meaning that it is sound from a legal standpoint as well as something you will stick with and continue to do even when you don’t have as much time anymore.
And while you’re at it – clean up your computer as well. Clutter can happen not only in the real world, but digitally as well. And a well thought-out filing system on your computer is just as important as for your paperwork, if not more so. 😉
This is number 95 of the “101 things a translator needs to know” compiled by WLF Think Tank. If you haven’t heard of it, go to the web site and check it out. I got my copy from Chris Durban herself at a translator’s conference in Berlin a few years ago. It is full of useful, often funny, sometimes familiar, but always sound advice both for beginners and seasoned translators.