A Day In The Life Of… Sarah Appleby

We’ve just had the longest day of the year and I’m sure you’ll agree some of our working days can be really long! Here is a #ADayInTheLifeOf a translator based in beautiful Derbyshire, England, where sunset is a whole 15 minutes later than London. Sarah Appleby specializes in corporate and product communications from German into English. Within the world of translation and Twitter you might know her as one of the event organizers for @ITI_EM and @TweetUpN. Sarah’s new website is coming soon here.

Meet Sarah

Meet Sarah

Tips from Rainy London Branding put into action on social media following a workshop

Tips from Rainy London Branding put into action on social media following a workshop

Val and Sarah at #LdnTweetUp, October 2013 (photo: @rainylondon)

Val and Sarah at #LdnTweetUp, October 2013 (photo: @rainylondon)


My internal alarm clock goes off. This is thanks to my partner whose morning commute has somehow trained me to wake up five minutes before he does. If I’m feeling energetic I will get up straightaway, have a cup of rooibos tea, and use this quiet time to check translations prior to delivery. Breakfast is an opportunity to catch up on news and blogs.


Office hours officially begin. Most of my clients are based in Germany so I make a point of checking my e-mails by 8am UK time, Monday to Friday. I’ve done this ever since I began freelancing over seven years ago (even when I lived on a mountaintop in Spain and on a boat). I’m pretty sure this consistency is one of the key pillars of my business.

This is also when I tend to post on social media – I currently run Twitter feeds for the Institute of Translation and Interpreting’s East Midlands regional group, Tweet Up North, and my own. I always aim to share something of interest on each account and like this quick way of keeping up with developments in our own industry and beyond.


I break production tasks down into 1.5 hour work blocks. Getting through the words to avoid working at midnight takes discipline and this is what works for me. When I used to run a lot this time would be the equivalent of 10 miles. So a pretty decent stretch. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from my former boss at a translation company: “Your working life is a marathon, not a sprint, and so it’s best to pace yourself accordingly.”

Pre-run selfie

Pre-run selfie


Morning coffee or (more likely if I’ve been up since dawn) second breakfast. Then settle down to the next work block through to lunchtime. That might be translating a press release, editing a case study or proofreading a brochure. If the words aren’t flowing right away I’ll reply to non-urgent e-mails or do some event planning or admin (that includes checking up on payments and thanking anyone who has paid early). I’m pretty passionate about creating opportunities for fellow language professionals to get together and learn from each other. Organizing events therefore takes up quite a lot of my time and gives me a sense of connection to the wider translation community.

Coffee break at Sarah's office building (where the cups are Rainy London red!)

Coffee break at Sarah’s office building (where the cups are Rainy London red!)


Lunchtime and a chat with my partner if he’s around. No point being your own boss and not taking time to be with your loved ones. Now and again I’ll work from my sister’s house for the day, taking some extra breaks to spend with my little nephew. I also have a co-working desk in Derby which I use for creative and project management tasks rather than confidential work. Sometimes on this extended break I’ll see a friend or have a business meeting – I’ve been working with a couple of different advisors as there is lots of business support on offer in Derby.

What's for lunch? Something from the garden if possible

What’s for lunch? Something from the garden if possible


Usually I’ll fit in a couple more blocks of work with a break in between to do some stretching and check personal e-mails on a different account. I might also research useful training courses or action something from my marketing plan. Today I’m going through queries that have emerged while working in a translation team, solving some and getting back to the client where clarification is required.


If I’m not going out, I’ll take an evening walk or cook. Life’s been exceptionally hectic recently because we’ve been juggling busy workloads with supervising a renovation project on the house, so I really enjoy this time away from the computer.


Time to relax or, if need be, fit in another block of translation. This can be a good time to get into a new text without interruption. I try not to check work at this hour because texts (and me!) ideally need to rest overnight. If it’s Friday, then I’ll almost certainly be done with work and maybe have a homemade sloe gin and tonic! I like to laugh so love watching comedy shows. Even with catch-up TV, I still pay attention to the adverts to keep an eye on the trends that are forming people’s opinions.


The usual end of my day unless I’m working for a direct client on something super-critical at a surcharge. When I lived in London I rarely went to bed before midnight, but life in Derbyshire is mellower. Plus those early starts really do not come naturally!

Thanks Sarah, looking forward to the #LinguistsUnite tweeting session online during #LdnTweetUp, #TweetOutWest and #TweetUpNorth on July 5th!

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