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Poll: What was the longest period you ever went without sleep to meet a deadline?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 17:59
SITE STAFF
Apr 11, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What was the longest period you ever went without sleep to meet a deadline?".

This poll was originally submitted by Nicole Schnell

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:59
German to English
+ ...
How do you do it? Apr 11, 2006

Wow, half a dozen people (so far) admit to spending 48 hours without sleep to meet a deadline. How do you manage it, even with strong coffee?
Confession: I'm one of the "lesser mortals" who have never gone over 24 hours at a stretch. There have been several occasions when I have stayed at the keyboard way past midnight, and sometimes then gone to bed for 3-4 hours before getting an early start. So some jobs have decimated my sleep for 2-3 days at a time. But I have never gone completely sleepless, and I don't think I could (and have no plans to try!).


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:59
English to German
+ ...
I am not alone! Apr 11, 2006

Victor Dewsbery wrote:

Wow, half a dozen people (so far) admit to spending 48 hours without sleep to meet a deadline.


Hi Victor and colleagues!

The reason why I initiated this poll is based on a classic beginner's mistake (long time ago, whew!!): I accepted a project for a few thousand words, not realizing that this wasn't about translation, but looking at more than a thousand pictures of objects with fantasy names and figuring out search words that Germans might use. I broke my personal record of 52 hours. Afterwards, I was sick for 52 hours.


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Sandra C.
France
Local time: 02:59
English to French
+ ...
no sleep=no focus Apr 11, 2006

How can anyone do a good job withour any sleep?? Translation is brain work; without sleep, even after a few strong coffees or whatever else you do to keep yourself awake, your brain's abilities are much lessened!
I'd rather miss a deadline by a few hours or even a whole day than lose sleep over it and send in a job that wasn't done to the best of my abilities...
That's my two cents


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 20:59
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
You have to find a balance between effort and profit/benefit Apr 11, 2006

When I started out translating, I took as many jobs as possible. Now I work for only a few agencies who do not send me more than 5,000-6,000 words at a time. Though it is tempting to sometimes take on more work, losing out on sleep and other family activities is just not worth the extra money.

There comes a time that the freelance translator has to regulate his or her workload.

Mis dos pesitos...

Reed


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:59
Member
English to Turkish
Ha, that was when young! Apr 11, 2006

I was about 25-26, I guess, and was working inhouse, in a localization project. My record should be something over 48 hours. How could we do it? Well, we were young, as I said (damn! it makes a huge difference), then there was great office friendship, we were having a lot of fun out there (had we not gone that far and organized a Tetris championship, possibly there would be no need to work overtime:P ), and then there was the pizza guy paying us frequent visits, coffee, vitamins and the world had not gone crazy about creating smoke-free office areas, yet. Anyway, I remember that I had to go on a vacation, thus finish my work before I could leave. So, stayed awake that long, and then next morning friends picked me from the office, I said hello, got into the car (and to give Victor and others a real panic now, imagine me saying: and I got behind the wheel! hahha, no way!), and just fell asleep. When I opened my eyes, Mediterranean sun was already winking at me, I had slept throughout the 800-kilometer road trip, with all long stops at gas stations and restaurants

Now, I wouldn't do it, it's crazy, and after 1 sleepless night you need a whole week to recover completely... or, well, at least I do


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Mathieu Masselot
Germany
Local time: 02:59
German to French
+ ...
It's no life Apr 11, 2006

Okay, here is my living situation: I am 27, have a girlfriend but we don't have any children. Nevertheless we have to do much home tasks to have a good and equilibrate household. Many other thing have to be done too.
I thus don't want to spend all my life working for agencies that don't pay me very good anyway. I do my work as good as I can, and as far as possible with much organization but I will never accept so much translation jobs that I would (other) spend 2 days in order to meet a deadline.
I think anybody should know if he can accept more jobs or if it isn't makeable. If you say : "Okay, I'll do it" then you must be trying to make much money. Otherwise, I can't explain it.

Moreover even with coffee, don't think that anybody could be able to concentrate that long without sleeping inbetween. When it happens with me that I'm short of time but I'm tired, I force myself to sleep 15-20 minutes (NOT MORE!!!) and then I'm really in form and I can translate even more and even better as I would have done without sleeping.


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 01:59
time = money?? Apr 11, 2006

48 hours????!!! that's not right at all...

I've done maybe 18, if not 20 hours, but that was in my first year or so as a freelancer doing jobs that I really should not have accepted or taken on too much...

It is so important for freelancers to develop good time management skills, otherwise you'll be spending all your money you earned by staying up late on under-eye and anti-wrinkle creams


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marie-christine périé  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:59
English to French
+ ...
sleep or else!!! Apr 11, 2006

that's me
I'm totally unable to work if I don't sleep. Maybe I could manage in an office, with people around me, etc, but all by myself in front of my computer, no way, whatever the deadline!
I try to turn down the work I can't do, or share it with colleagues I trust. What's the point in delivering bad quality, anyway?

I even take a nap in the afternoon sometimes. 15 mn sleep, and everything's much better!



[Edited at 2006-04-11 14:44]


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Satto (Roberto)  Identity Verified
Colombia
Local time: 19:59
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Right on! Apr 11, 2006

Reed D. James wrote:

When I started out translating, I took as many jobs as possible. Now I work for only a few agencies who do not send me more than 5,000-6,000 words at a time. Though it is tempting to sometimes take on more work, losing out on sleep and other family activities is just not worth the extra money.

There comes a time that the freelance translator has to regulate his or her workload.

Mis dos pesitos...

Reed


Yup..nothing is more valuable that your own self and that of your family...who in his right mind has wished to have spent more hours working in his death bed?

I for one cannot work more than 12 hours..call me lazy or what ever you want, but after so many hours of hard concentration translation work my mind needs a rest...or else the quality of my work just drops.. just to meet a deadline. So think about what is more valuable telling your client an honest deadline with good quality or a deadline your know you can't keep unless you deprive yourself of sleep.


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David Brown  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:59
Spanish to English
Nothing is that important Apr 11, 2006

I worked most of my life in a hospital and for many, many years, especially in the 1960-1970s, I worked for more than 24 hours without any sleep at least twice a week. That was different as the hospital system in the UK was starting to be overwhelmed and there were more emergency demands by patients and doctors.
Translation, by comparison, is a job which needs to be done and it's only importance (apart from earning my living) is to do a good job, in a reasonable time, for a resonable rate. Urgent jobs, to me at least, are few and far between. I have translated small (up to 1000 words) urgent documents (medical discharge reports to English for tourists who have to return home with the translation, to claim on their holiday insurance, and once or twice for Spanish patients who were going to England or the USA for specialist treatment), but have never accepted so much that I couldn't have my siesta during the day and my 6-7 hours sleep at night.
Work to live, not live to work and certainly not die or ruin your health for work.


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Francisco Bolaños  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
aha... Apr 11, 2006

Yes, David, I agree, its not worth risking health...

Luckily (or not) I like working at night, and sometimes overnight, so when I have tight dealines or lots of work I don't hesitate in sleeping a little less.
On the other hand, a little siesta after meal is always a good idea.


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Tsogt Gombosuren  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:59
Member (2004)
English to Mongolian
+ ...
I was sleepless for about 60 hours to meet my deadline Apr 11, 2006

I got 300 pages of operator's manuals (tractor, bulldozer etc.) from a Japanese company dozen years ago when I started my career as a translator.
I had to complete the translation within 3 days.
I managed to complete it without sleep using eye drops and ointments for 3 days, but afterwards my eyes couldn't see clearly for a week.
Since then, I have never got jobs with such tight deadlines.


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:59
German to English
+ ...
We are all different Apr 11, 2006

From time spent as an outsourcer, I knew there were people out there I could call on to meet wild and indeed silly deadlines.

When I became an 'insourcer', I vowed I would not follow that path. Whilst I have never worked so hard in my life, I find that I start to mentally meander after about 12 hrs.

Hence my maxim of requesting to see the job first, without fail. Who else is going to know what I can do depending on the subject matter, allowing time for answering the phone, mails etc. and a certain reserve to be on the safe side? If I don't get a job because of that, then too bad: there'll be another one hot on its heels.

I remember being very impressed at a Powwow when Kim Metzger told me he'd done a 30+ stint. Going on to see Nicole's best knocked me sideways...

I'm sure that differences in mindset enable us to concentrate to different degrees. Some have shorter attention spans. Others actually can do this total immersion thing. Some are probably somewhere in the middle.

One of the odd things is translating in your sleep. Anyone done that? Or translation nightmares. "I've got to deliver this and that by tomorrow - but have I finished it?" Then you wake up and it's all cool.

(Then the phone rings.)

I could not imagine life outside this profession. Yet I shall firmly refuse to seek death because of it

Chris


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Cecilia Civetta  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:59
Member (2003)
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
When I was young.... Apr 11, 2006

When I was young(er), about 25-28, it was just normal to skip sleeping 1 or 2 days a week, even 2 nights in a row... Not any more though. Now I just can't do it, I collapse! And besides, as Reed said, it's not really worth it!!



Reed D. James wrote:

When I started out translating, I took as many jobs as possible. Now I work for only a few agencies who do not send me more than 5,000-6,000 words at a time. Though it is tempting to sometimes take on more work, losing out on sleep and other family activities is just not worth the extra money.

There comes a time that the freelance translator has to regulate his or her workload.

Mis dos pesitos...

Reed


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