#ADayInTheLifeOf… Megan Onions

March’s installment of #ADayInTheLifeOf features lovely colleague Megan Onions, French and German into English translator and editor, of  Speech Marks Translation. Megan runs her business from rural Herefordshire. She has been translating French and German into British English since 2007, specialising in promotional, marketing, sports and tourism material. Find her on Twitter or on her new proofreading dedicated site, Speech Marks Proofreading.


My alarm goes off. Unless I have a project to finish before lunchtime, I don’t tend to get up early. My brain doesn’t work to its full potential right away! I generally do my best work in the afternoons and evenings, which means that I have to be strict when it comes to switching off. Before I do anything, I check my emails and social media accounts for anything requiring an urgent reply.

Just before 9am

After a quick shower and a simple breakfast, I start up my computer and go through my paper to-do list. I have started to make a list at the end of each day ready for the next morning, which really helps me to focus, structure my week and reflect on what I have achieved during each day. I try to do the least appealing task first, if possible. For example, if I have some receipts to file or some files to align and add to one of my translation memories, I’ll try to get that over with and get on with more satisfying activities.


The translations I do on aren’t usually long-term projects, so I’m usually starting a new job or finishing a current one. This means that I spend a fair bit of time on enquiries, quoting or invoicing. It also means that I often work on more than one project in a day, which helps me to stay creative and certainly keeps me sharp!As well as translation, I also proofread and edit English material under the name Speech Marks Proofreading, and I have been offering copywriting as an additional service since mid-2013. Providing these different services can mean that a week is extremely varied – just the way I like it.


It’s not always at the same time, but I try to take one extended break in the morning and one in the afternoon. This break might involve going for a walk, doing a few exercises or popping out to the Post Office, but I try to get outside and breathe some fresh air if possible. Today, I went out to post a card to a lovely colleague, who has kindly referred me to a new client.


Back to work for about an hour until my stomach starts to rumble! I sometimes find that this sliver of time is actually really productive, whether a great idea for a blog post occurs to me or I find that perfect turn ofphrase for some website copy I’m translating. Sooner or later, though, I feel the pull of the kitchen.


It’s time for lunch. Lately, I’ve been enjoying homemade soup, as it’s something that I can prepare at the weekend and eat quickly and easily.At the moment, I have three Coursera courses on the go (Content Strategy for Professionals, The Science of Communication and Sports and Society), so I might try to catch up on the videos and quizzes over lunch. It’s quite easy to fall behind if I have a busy few weeks.


Right, back to work! If an enquiry comes in over lunch, I take a look at the file and the client’s requirements and either send a quote and my terms and conditions (if it’s a direct client) or refer them to a colleague with different specialisms or language pairs. One of my goals for this year is to work with more direct clients, so I’ve updated my terms and conditions andhad promotional postcards designed, along with a looong list of other things! Otherwise, I get on with my translation/proofreading/copywriting work, email potential clients, keep in touch with colleagues or update my Twitter or Facebook accounts (often all of the above).


It’s time for my afternoon break. One of my to-do list items for this week is updating my LinkedIn profile, after listening to Tess Whitty’s podcast interview with Anne Diamantidis. I spend some time looking at colleagues’ profiles and rewriting my descriptions over a drink and a snack, then get back to work for the final stretch.


Time to wind down and get something nice to eat. I generally try to shut down my computer by 6pm, depending on when I started work and whether I have an urgent project to work on or complete. At the end of the day, I make my to-do list for the next morning, and it all starts over again!

Thank you, Megan 🙂

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