Time Management
Thread poster: Trevor Chichester

Trevor Chichester  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:09
Member (2012)
German to English
+ ...
Apr 16, 2012

Hey fellow linguists,

I hope everyone had a great Monday!

So, I've been mulling over a few aspects of our profession and wanted to know how each of you manages your time.

For instance, I often find myself working at least 12hr days when the projects are really flowing and when the projects are few and far between I use that time to market myself.

I'm finding it very difficult lately to balance my time. It seems as though I get tied to projects and refuse to rest until they're done, even if the deadline is more than reasonable. At times it seems like an obsession.

Has anyone else had this problem?



Cheers,

Trevor


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
What problem? Apr 16, 2012

Sounds like you're managing your time quite well.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 06:09
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes... Apr 17, 2012

Trevor Chichester wrote:
I'm finding it very difficult lately to balance my time. It seems as though I get tied to projects and refuse to rest until they're done, even if the deadline is more than reasonable. At times it seems like an obsession.

Indeed this has happened to me as well. I can't tell about your case, but in my case it is probably the result of a defective education since I find pleasure in serving my customers. This, which is good from one point of view, is bad if the schedule gets really busy.

The only solution I see is to raise the rates to throttle the amount of work received. And if the flow of work does not go down, you make some more money.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:09
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Welcome to the club! Apr 17, 2012

Trevor Chichester wrote:
For instance, I often find myself working at least 12hr days when the projects are really flowing and when the projects are few and far between I use that time to market myself.


I don't know if there's an official definition of a workaholic, but a lot of people who run their own businesses like to put it first in their priorities and everything else second. There's no chance of "leaving work at the office, closing the door and coming home to a family life". Work is there with you at home and it's tempting not to push it to the side.

I work part-time because my husband's retired, but even if I'm not actually working (i.e. earning money), there are always work-related things to do - admin, marketing, training...

I don't know that this type of lifestyle is necessarily a bad thing, but if you have a partner and/or kids who are suffering, then it's a problem.

Do you think you're a workaholic, Trevor?

Sheila


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:09
Chinese to English
I wish I had your problem Apr 17, 2012

I'm the world's biggest procrastinator, and I need deadlines to force me to get on with work...
I do put in very long hours, though. With me, the only thing that drags me away from my desk is the kids - I won't sacrifice their play time to Mammon! When things are busy, my social life tends to go down the spout, though.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:09
English to German
Another feature Apr 17, 2012

I'd like to add another feature to this discussion. Beside the obsession, which is well-known to me, too, I have a more serious problem with time management to which I would like to hear your opinions.

After so many years of working, it still happens to me from time to time that I underestimate a project. I doesn't happen too often, but it really is a problem for me.

Therefore, I would like to know, how you assess the time needed for certain projects, particularly for larger ones. Does it happen to you that you make a wrong estimate?

Annett


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Sigrid Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:09
Member (2011)
Danish to German
+ ...
Im there too.. Apr 17, 2012

yes I get obessed too, can´t rest until the projects are done, but for me it´s ok, because I feel I can rest up in more quiet times.
Annett for me it´s the total opposite, i sometimes turn orders down cause I think there is no way of making it, where I actually could have taken the order.
I manage my time by calculating, how many words a day i can handle. Until now I counted with 3500, although I know that in really hectic times I can handle up to 8000 (and yes I know at this point I really have to be careful with the quality, but I feel I still can deliver a very good translation). So - I guess to solve our problems Annett, guess we have to adjust our "daily turnaround rate". I guess I have to go up to 4000, and whatever you have estimated for yourself Annett, lower that by 500 and it will help you keeping the deadlines.

Trevor I think as translators we have to be careful to not get "burned out" (and yes I know what I´m talking about I had a burnout about 6 years ago). Working days over 12 hours once in a while are ok, but not all the time. We need to try and be strict with ourselves, if there is a reasonable deadline, set a time, when u stop working every day.
Most important though is, that you can relax then and don´t constantly think about your work, especially for those working form home this is a challance - cutting out thoughts about work in their free time.
We can only work on that, and try to constantly get better "relaxing", remind yourself that it´s just as important to relax to be able to d your translation work gladly again the next day.

Hope that helps a bit!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Richard Foulkes  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:09
German to English
+ ...
Managing time or income? Apr 17, 2012

@Trevor: I'm sure we've all been there! I decided to get a bit more organised a while back and set a few targets re. income and time. Keeping track of actual income compared to target allows me to know when I can afford to turn work away, rather than just working incessantly like a hamster in a wheel! Aiming for a set number of hours per day allows me to know when I'm putting in 'over-time' and how much 'leave' I've taken. I'm sure that may seem excessive to some but I find it helps to work with some kind of structure and to compare my working conditions with previous jobs.

@Annett: I'm sure your problem is equally familiar to most of us! What I sometimes do for larger jobs, where I'm not sure how quickly I'll get though them, is to keep a note of how many words I'm translating every half hour, keep a running average of all of those figures and divide it into the total words remaining. This should tell you approximately how much time you have left to go. Sounds complicated but it's not difficult to set up on a spreadsheet and then just enter the figures every half hour (or hour I suppose). Then you'll know when you can take a break or stop working for the day.

HTH!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:09
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Some solutions for time management Apr 17, 2012

Annett Hieber wrote:
Therefore, I would like to know, how you assess the time needed for certain projects, particularly for larger ones. Does it happen to you that you make a wrong estimate?
Annett


Annett,

In my consultancy days, among countless other things, I developed and led one specific Time Management seminar 76 times. Now I'm not saying that I actually do everything I used to say there, however I have a pretty clear idea of the consequences of anything I neglect. For instance, right now I'm writing this post, while a very boring job is open in another window, however I know that I have plenty of time to finish it.

First, you must have a very clear idea on your production capacities, both rated and maximum. The rated capacity is how much you can deliver per day without compromising any other activities you may have. The maximum is your all-time record so far. My personal figures are respectively 3,000 and 10,000 words ( < 5% matches). As they say, your mileage may vary.

Then calculate your deadlines based on your rated capacity. For instance, if I get a 12K words job, I'll tell the client it will take me 4 days to do it. Of course I'll try to do it faster, however I know that I can do it in 4 days, and still have time left to take some smaller urgent job(s) in the meantime; if it's not small, it might justify an express service surcharge for some overtime. If that 12K client tells me it must be done in 24 hours, I know for sure that I can't do it (unless I see it's an opportunity to break my previous record for any reason).

My tenet is that I prefer delivering two days early than two hours late. So far, the latest I have delivered was 9 minutes before the deadline... in the past 38 years!

It is good to have "fillers", i.e. long-term jobs that will take up one's otherwise "idle" time. The typical case is books, where rates tend to be much lower. I can work on them between one project and another. My policy (based on my output figures) is to never commit more than 1/3 of my rated output to such projects. If I happen to deliver all my other projects two days before their deadlines, and have two days "free", I can push that "book" or whatever about one week forward.

Then there is the compensation part of it... money. It always puzzles me why so many translators accept abusively long payment terms. To ease my mind, I try to force the rationale that "translators are people of letters; they are not expected to be good with figures". No, I'm not an economist, my degree is in industrial engineering. However I decided to focus... my professional activity is translation, not financial services.

One of the key tools I taught in time management was setting priorities. But how can I set my priorities, if I all my translation projects come from outside, viz. from my clients? Well, the result from my translation work is my income. So the only variable left to set my priorities is cash.

I checked on the fixed variables. As a sworn translator in Brazil (an activity regulated by law - details on this page, I am forbidden to turn down jobs (though I have set parameters on deadlines, as well as legal surcharges if shorter turnaround is required), yet rates are statutory and payment is COD. However sworn translations are a variable - usually not large - part of my work.

Leaving these aside, I have calculated my standard rate, and determined my payment term. Just as I need time to do the translatin work, my clients may need time to check it and get the payment processed, often twice, if there is a translation agency in between. Two weeks is far more than reasonable for this.

So I devised a system - which I named managed availability - experimentally, and it worked, so I'm about to state its rules on my web site for everyone to see.

In a nutshell...
  • 'Normal' clients pay my standard rate within two weeks.
  • Rush jobs may require faster payment and/or an urgency surcharge, as long as I have the availability to do them.
  • Clients paying my standard rate between two weeks and 30 days shall be made aware that they may lose priority to any other jobs coming up in the meantime (i.e. no rush/urgent jobs for them).
  • No jobs paying beyond 30 days from delivery are accepted, ever!
  • Jobs paying rates below my standard shall not take more than 1/3 of my daily rated output.

This enables me to prioritize the jobs I accept, which is the basis for good time management.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: Empty post

Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:09
English to German
Good advice Apr 18, 2012

@Richard & José Henrique:

This really sounds very interesting and I have to do some thinking. I will surely try the spreadsheet for my purposes. My main problem is that my speed/daily output varies considerably depending on the text.

Annett


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Time Management

Advanced search







LSP.expert
You’re a freelance translator? LSP.expert helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure.

How about you start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes? You can also manage your clients and generate reports about your business activities. So you always keep a clear view on your planning, AND you get a free 30 day trial period!

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search