Interpreting is an incredibly fast-paced career where every minute counts. As an interpreter, you need to juggle research, networking, traveling, skill-building, and actual interpreting. With so much on your plate and such little time, managing your time and workload becomes imperative. 

You must not overlook the importance of time management for interpreters. While interpreting itself happens in real-time and does not require much planning in terms of time, all the other job-related tasks must be planned well ahead. 

Let us look at some tips to manage time and workload effectively as an interpreter. 

Make a list

The first step to getting your tasks in order is making a list. 

ASL interpreters work in highly varied settings that require them to dedicate different amounts of time and effort. One client might request your services early in the morning, while another might need your services for the entire day. With such varying demands, you must plan your day effectively to keep track of what needs to be done. 

Create a to-do list for each day and add tasks that need to be completed on that particular day. This will give you a sense of how many tasks you need to get done in a day and how you can time them effectively. 

You can do this activity at the start of each day or week. To make your list more effective, try breaking down major projects into smaller tasks. You can use a calendar app to do the same. 

Time yourself

Here is a tip for days when your tasks are piling on and you cannot stop procrastinating- set a timer. Use this time to finish a task from your list, or if you are feeling extra-motivated, as many tasks as you can. 

Timing yourself gives you a sense of urgency while also making work seem limited and easier to accomplish. Further, it makes you extra focused on your work, thus, increasing your productivity. 

When the timer goes off and you see what you have accomplished in a short amount of time, you might just feel motivated to dedicate more time to work. You can set multiple timers throughout the day. 

This exercise also helps you see how long it takes for you to complete a specific task, which can help you plan your work effectively for the next time. 

Set milestones

When you have a lot to accomplish in a day, it is advisable to break your larger tasks into smaller, actionable goals. For instance, if you need to research for a conference, instead of seeing the entire process as a whole, you can break it down into smaller tasks. You can categorize the research into different subjects like Speakers, Presentation material, Terminologies, etc. Then, you can focus on accomplishing each of these milestones separately. 

Setting milestones helps you track your progress and makes the workload seem more manageable.

Be mindful

Every person has different productivity levels during different hours of the day. Some people work most efficiently during the day, while others excel at night. A great way to manage your workload and time is to be mindful of your productivity patterns. 

Once you identify these patterns, you can schedule your tasks accordingly. Tasks that are easier and require less attention can be finished during hours when your productivity is low. Whereas, tasks that require more attention and are harder to complete can be done during peak productivity hours. 

Prioritize tasks

This step is crucial for making an effective schedule.

With such varying work, you must prioritize each task to determine which ones need to be given more/immediate attention and time. Tasks that are low-priority can be completed at a later time or when your productivity is low. Contrarily, high-priority tasks can be placed at the top of your to-do list.

Stay focused

When you are managing a heavy workload, getting distracted is highly likely. While many think of multitasking as an effective way to accomplish more in a short time, the reality of the matter proves otherwise. 

In fact, multitasking can increase the amount of time it takes to complete a single task, and also reduce the quality of your work. Focusing on one task at a time makes you more efficient in comparison to when you juggle multiple tasks at the same time. 

Be willing to pass on projects

When new work comes knocking on your door, it can be tempting to accept all of it. While you might have the time to complete the actual interpretation job, you must consider other aspects of interpreting that also take up time. 

To prepare for an interpretation job, you must do your research about the event, speaker, and subject. Further, you also need to travel to the location of the job. Apart from these time-consuming tasks, you must schedule time for upskilling, networking, and rejuvenating yourself. 

When you say yes to too many projects together, you make it harder for yourself to create and stick to a schedule. To ensure you don’t face this problem, you can limit the number of projects you work on at a time.


Time management can effectively help you manage your workload. Successful ASL interpreters can effectively manage their time and workload, which helps increase their productivity and helps them deliver higher-quality work. Unspoken Language Services is looking for such highly-skilled and determined professionals. We are a boutique agency owned and operated by ASL interpreters. We follow a humanistic approach to work and respect your skills and expertise. To know more, contact us

Thumbnail Photo Credit to: Photo by Jess Bailey Designs