Welcome to the next post in the Great Productivity Project series, part of the Looking-Glass Translations productivity programme! Contact me on today if you’d like to be featured in the series.

This week, I speak to Katharine Mears of Point2Point Translations! Let’s go!


1. How did you enter the industry and what do you remember most about your first year in business?

After working for six years as a fundraiser in the charity sector, I decided that I wanted pursue a career in translation. In 2010, I undertook an MA in Technical and Specialised Translation at the University of Westminster in London. I then went on to set myself up as a freelance translator part-time whilst continuing to work part-time in my previous fundraising role. What I remember most about that first year is it being one huge juggling act! It was extremely useful to have a regular income to fall back on while establishing my translation business, but looking back now I don’t know how I got through it!


2. Are you a morning lark or a night owl?

A morning lark. I find that I’m most productive in the morning between about 9 am and 12 pm. I rarely work past 7 pm.


3. On average, how many hours do you work a week?

Around 40 hours a week.


4. Do you stick to a set routine or do you prefer to go with the flow?

I try as hard as possible to my stick to my official working hours of 9 am to 6 pm. Having previously worked in an office, I was used to this routine and simply carried on. I also like the fact that this schedule coincides with that of my husband and most of my friends.


5. As freelancers, we are very lucky in that we have a lot more flexibility than other workers. How do you take advantage of this?

I probably don’t take advantage of this as much as I should! Having said that, now I no longer have to commute to work, I have a much more leisurely breakfast. I enjoy browsing through the paper or a magazine and then catching up with translation-related news on social media over a cup of coffee. I also find that I have more free time in the evenings (and am less tired), so that is when I aim to get out of the house and go to an exercise class or meet up with friends.


6. What does work-life balance mean to you? Do you think it’s important?

For me, it means getting the most out both my working and personal life and ensuring I stick as closely as possible to the working hours I have set for myself. I think it’s extremely important, because I don’t think I’d enjoy my work or my free time nearly as much without the right balance of both.


7. What’s the biggest productivity challenge you’ve faced running your own business?

For the first couple of years, I found it very difficult to translate as quickly as I would have liked. Given that the majority of my work is paid by the word, translating at a good pace is especially important, whilst maintaining quality of course.


8. How did you overcome it / what are you doing to make things better?

Practice and experience proved to be the key. However, using tools such as the Pomodoro technique to gauge how much I could achieve in 25-minute blocks, and seeking to improve on this gradually, also helped immensely.
(Marie: more on this soon on the blog!)


9. What’s the one productivity tip or tool you couldn’t live without?

The accounting software FreeAgent. Invoicing is so much quicker and easier now and the overviews and reports it offers have significantly reduced the time I spend on finance-related admin.


10. If you could go back in time, what’s the one thing you’d tell yourself when you were just starting out?

Don’t rush things. It’s impossible to achieve everything you aspire to in your business in the first couple of years and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself during this time. I’m now working towards my goals in a much more structured and realistic manner. I was far too impatient and unrealistic about this at the start!


JUST FOR FUN: Finally, we often only see each other professionally and I’d love to peek behind the business – can you name a hobby of yours that might surprise us? What do you do in your downtime?

Having previously worked as a fundraiser, I still enjoy taking on a fundraising challenge. I try to do something at least once a year if I can and I find it’s also a great motivator for keeping fit. The most recent challenge was the London to Brighton Cycle last June. The most adventurous was trekking 100km through the Maasai Mara in Tanzania amongst giraffe, lions and an erupting volcano (for larger photos, just click)!

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Thank you so much for taking part in the series!


Three heads are better than one

Feeling inspired by Katharine? Then you might like these articles:


Would you like to be involved in the Great Productivity Project? I’d love to hear from you! Contact me today at marie@lookingglasstranslations.com to be part of it.


  • Katharine Mears

  • Point2Point Translations

Katharine is a freelance translator based in St Albans, England. She translates from French and Spanish into English, specialising in international development, European Parliament and accounting and investment fund documents. She recently launched a new blog, The Deep End, a collaboration between a group of five translators and friends.

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