Work/life balance

Set your alarm clock to go to sleep…

As a child I learned that an alarm clock was used to wake you up. But it took me a lot longer to realise that an alarm clock was a tool to send you to sleep and sleep more.

By sleeping more, I don’t mean hammering the snooze button every nine minutes to have half an hour longer in bed. With a blurring of home and office (and working from home for the last year and a half), I have found that my “down time” from work has become less, particularly where I have taken time out to pick up children from kindergarten, do some shopping, cook etc. And so this was where the alarm clock came in.

I set alarms for 21:30 and 22:00, which were the soft and hard cut-off points, past which I could not work. And then thirty minutes later (ie 22:30) to indicate time to sleep. Between the soft/hard alarms I would only finish a task I was working on, but not start new tasks.

In addition, I have also set social media apps to be blocked past 22:30, and my phones to go into do not disturb mode. All of these steps have helped me to sleep better, making the being woken up at 05:00 – 06:00 by the twins a little more manageable, even if their alarm to do so is daily, rather than just limited to the working week.

Talks, Lectures and Presentations

Talk given to students at the University of Graz

I turned 44 on 24 June 2021. The momentous realisation was that I was halfway between graduating (23) and retirement (65), and fortunately I had an excellent opportunity to take stock of things, giving a talk to a class of MA course Translation students at the Department of Translation Studies at the University of Graz at the invitation of Hendrik Bower.

Hopefully I provided some insight into all aspects of a career as a translator. The format worked well – the students submitted questions in advance, which I then wove into a presentation.

I talked about a broad range of topics, starting with what my own personal educational pedigree was, and how a language degree from the UK was quite different to one in Austria.

I also explained about language services in various governmental and near-governmental settings, the challenge of starting up language services, how language services work with freelancers, the kinds of profiles looked for, and how Europeanisation in public administration contributes to the need for language services.

I covered issues about training, project management, the use of technology (CAT and MT) and trying to illustrate how technology can be used well also in QA of translations, as well as also giving a brief overview about the state of the industry, and how (N)MT affects the market for translation, and the profile of translators.

I found the exercise rewarding – hopefully I structured it in a way that showed the transition from the theoretical side (as part of a degree course) to the practical side of being a translator, with a particular focus on Austria as a market for translators.

If anyone teaching in higher education in Austria is interested in me giving a similar talk – feel free to get in touch. My employer supports this kind of outreach exercise, and is usually very forthcoming in approving such speaking engagements.


Back to the “normal” Office

After having worked from home for sixteen weeks, last week I was back in my “normal” office, in the room that I have worked in since 2014, since I joined my employer. The difference this time around is that I am only in alternate weeks for the time being, and only sharing the office with one other colleague rather than upto three.

The return to the office, with a maximum 50% occupancy nevertheless helped in terms of “Gesichtsw√§sche” – I felt on occasions during lockdown that it was easy once the situation “normalised” that the prominence I enjoyed sitting with banking supervisors had eroded somewhat, and felt the return to the office was a useful fillip in terms of gently nudging colleagues that I was not out of sight and out of mind.

“While I locked the office door behind me, I still had the office with me as I embarked on my commute.”

The new reality of being back in-house.

There is also a different discipline involved now compared to working in-house before lockdown. For starters, meetings are widely still virtual and I am expected to take my laptop home with me each evening to be able to react accordingly for the eventuality of there being a suddenly enforced lockdown. So while I locked the office door behind me, I still had the office with me as I embarked on my commute.

One important organisational task that becomes a part of the in-house/remote flip is to ensure that when I really leave the office at the end of an “in-house” week, that I have any physical documents that I need – for example, if I am finishing up a publication that I feel the need to actively correct following a read through of a physical copy. Of course this only works for documents that are intended for public consumption, anything with a restricted nature remains exclusively electronic.

Given experiences of substantial downloads in combination with the VPN tunnel, I also make sure that while in the office that I perform any software updates required to avoid issues about VPN tunnel connection speed for downloads. This also allowed me to have a declutter – in March I ended up “leaving in a hurry” so took the opportunity during a software download requiring several restarts to file and shred as appropriate a stack of paper that had been on my desk since prior to lockdown.

Currently I am not carrying reference books between my offices – I have a recent law codex at home, and fortunately the Rechtinformationsservice des Bundes‘ offering keeps me up-to-speed, and during the flurry of Covid-19-Gesetze was essential for downloading or bookmarking applicable primary and secondary legislation. The other staple of my research has been the EUR-LEX as well as the European Union Terminology database IATE.

This week as I celebrate 20 years since arriving in Austria, I also doff my hat to IATE’s predecessor, Eurodictautom, which I used in the early days – before it was sent into a well-earned retirement in 2007.


Copying the in-office setup at home

When I turned off the light in my office on the evening of 13 March 2020, I hadn’t anticipated that three months later I would be still working from home. Fortunately, we had always kept a home office “just in case” although it was planning to be repurposed to become a room for our twins. Then COVID-19 became an issue in Austria.



This year I have decided to try and take one term each week in German and the following week one in English for each letter of the alphabet to illustrate the diverse nature of my work as a Financial Markets Supervision Translator. I’m using the hashtag #AtoZFMST to do so.

The intention behind it is to introduce some of the key concepts of the job of an embedded translator in the supervisory setting. One reason behind this was because from talking to other people at recent conferences a number asked about the kinds of documents that are handled within the job, as it can be a somewhat arcane field of specialisation that seems impenetrable to an outsider.

Abstracts Talks, Lectures and Presentations

Abstract of Presentation on “The market for legal translation in Austria: the financial markets supervision perspective” presented at EULITA Conference, in Sofia, March 2018

Two primary reasons exist for the burgeoning demand for translation in financial market supervision. Firstly, increasing Europeanisation of financial market supervision, following the advent of the Single Supervisory Mechanism in banking supervision, the establishment of European Supervisory Authorities in banking, insurance and occupational pensions, and securities and markets supervision, and bank resolution within the Single Resolution Mechanism, and their language regimes have created increased demand in the national language to English combination. Secondly, the cross-border nature of activities of supervised entities, particularly those whose cross-border activities are not restricted only to other EU Member States, also presents particular challenges with regard to legal translation in relation to ongoing supervisory activities. In addition, the constantly evolving language services market also presents considerable challenges for both translators and consumers of legal translation services. Finally, while technology increases productivity, its use also affects charging models, which can in turn complicate the procurement of legal translation.

Keywords: Europeanisation, cross-border supervision, Austria, language services, procurement, productivity