There is something about the Energizer Bunny that captures the imagination of people everywhere. Its message of endurance is inspiring at best, but can spell trouble if you just keep going and going when it is actually time to stop. This is one of my biggest weaknesses: I keep looking, reviewing, verifying, correcting, changing and hopefully improving even a text that at first seemed pretty straightforward to translate. You may think this is what professionals should do; after all, the intention is to provide the client with the best possible product. However, too much of a good thing can easily become, well…a sin.

Not knowing when to stop reviewing has consequences:

Financial. Quite often, work is quoted by estimating the time it will take to complete. So, once the project is approved, it is pretty hard to simply add a few hundred dollars (or more!) just because it took you longer to find a particular term, or you changed your mind about the first option and kept looking for a better match. When this happens, you can end up doing the work for free, even if the invoice is paid in full and on time. Do the math and you’ll see what I mean.

Lack of confidence. When serious doubts take over, they spread like wildfire. You could find yourself checking sources to verify the spelling of mundane words that you normally know in your sleep. Second guessing yourself isn’t helpful, to you or to your text.

Inconsistencies. Maybe the text is related to a previous section or even a different translation, and you begin to doubt certain terms or approaches that were used before. Flipping back and forth can help you to confirm past choices, but there may come a point when you get confused, or begin to doubt what you did before (see above!), and just generally “waste” time (see above!). This can definitely happen if you change your mind about a word or an approach at the last minute. Most often, inconsistencies are introduced when you change your mind without having the time or the space to confirm that the new choice is truly more appropriate.

Now, it’s not that I’m advocating for sloppy work. I am talking about extreme dedication that backfires, as described above.

Not to worry, though, there are some strategies that can help avoid the problem in the first place:

Stick to your schedule. Work carefully and consciously to complete the task to the best of your abilities within the estimated time, as much as you possibly can.

Verify with the client. They may already have preferred terminology or approaches, so simply check with them. If it’s something that hasn’t been encountered before, ask their opinion. They may have reasons for choosing one thing over another that you aren’t aware of, and involving them can put your own doubts to rest.

Take a break. When you feel the pull towards the never-ending vortex of revisions, stop the Energizer Bunny right there! Take a break, do something else or, if possible, sleep on it. Pillows are excellent advisors. The following morning, you can go back and read the text again only to realize that it is correct, and ready to go.

Trust yourself. You are a professional, you took time to consider your choices in the first place. Change your mind if new information comes to light, or you think of something truly better, but don’t second guess yourself for no reason at all.

Have you ever found yourself in the labyrinth of reviewing, reconsidering, revising and revising again, researching other options? We’d love to hear how you escaped from it!

Pilar Bolanos is a certified translator, former journalist and communications professional. Whether working in international news, international relations, as a translator and editor, the axis of her entire career has always been words. As Account Manager with Intralingo, she helps English-language authors find their voice in her native Spanish.