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How do you organise your business day in order to optimise your earnings?
Thread poster: Astrid Elke Witte

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:50
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Feb 3, 2010

Assuming that you have a particular target income that you wish to earn, and that, in order to achieve it, you have to translate a particular number of words per day - and also assuming that it will take you at least 8 hours, or maybe even 9 or 10, to translate that number of words - how do you organise your business day to fit it in?

What I mean is this: if you really manage to get the work to cover those 8 to 10 hours every single day, then that requires a lot of e-mail correspondence to negotiate the work. Maybe it consists of many small projects, for example, and involves a lot of e-mail correspondence, with different PMs, at different times of day. Or, in the case of a larger project, maybe you are sent a .pdf document consisting of 100 pages, and you have to OCR it all and obtain an approximate word count in order to provide a quote After this, you are involved in quite a lot of correspondence to make the arrangements to do the job. How, then, do you manage to fit in the target number of hours of translating as well? Or does it even get to the stage where you have to spend most of the day corresponding and negotiating projects, and can only do the translation work in the evenings and at weekends? It would be interesting if you could share your experience.


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david young  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:50
Member (2009)
French to English
well, I have read Feb 3, 2010

a scientific article claiming that the phone, e-mails and other interruptions are more disruptive than smoking marihuana, so I just have a spliff and ignore the rest.
Seriously though, when I'm busy translating, I just can't handle the paperwork, client care, etc. as well, cos it breaks my concentration. The best way is to hire secretarial services, which, if your rates are high enough, can pay for themselves.
Anyone in the Paris area interested in sharing a PA?


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:50
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
How much of it could a secretary do? Feb 3, 2010

Hi David,

I guess a secretary could do all the paperwork, which would no doubt be a help. However, I doubt if I would want a secretary to do my negotiating for me, arrange the price for the job, etc. It seems to me that there is no way anyone else can take over the e-mail correspondence.

And as for the OCR work: if you can train a secretary to do it, you will still have to buy an extra computer for that purpose.

High(er) rates would also assume lots of local companies as clients. Are you planning to hire a sales representative as well?

Best regards,

Astrid


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French Foodie  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:50
French to English
+ ...
Thank you Feb 3, 2010

david young wrote:

a scientific article claiming that the phone, e-mails and other interruptions are more disruptive than smoking marihuana, so I just have a spliff and ignore the rest.


Thank you David for the laugh I needed!


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Hildegard Klein-Bodenheimer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:50
English to German
+ ...
Stay organized and keep distractions to a minimum Feb 3, 2010

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:
Or does it even get to the stage where you have to spend most of the day corresponding and negotiating projects, and can only do the translation work in the evenings and at weekends? It would be interesting if you could share your experience.


Hi Astrid,

I think when you are at that point something isn't working right. Your main work during the day should be translating.

In the morning, before I start my coffeemaker I start the computer. While the coffee is running through I check my e-mails. Answer what is necessary and set myself up for the day. When I have new job offers I agree and send a quote and the client sends me the project.

For years now, my computer is always on mute. That means, I don't have to react to every "pling" that announces an incoming e-mail. Usually, I check my e-mails once every hour, more often when I expect a certain answer. I do most of my business via e-mail. That way, the telephone doesn't often interrupt my concentration. I am working consistently with a few agencies and clients and we know what we need from each other. I have quotes and invoices set up in templates and it takes only a couple minutes to fill them out and send them. I send my bills monthly. Every time, I finish a job I include it into the bill for that client. At the end of the month, it takes only a few minutes to finalize the invoices and send them out.

When I have a large project over many days or weeks, I try to keep track on my daily work. I take the word.doc or pdf.file and save them a second time as "word count". At the end of each day, I delete the doc to the point where I stopped. That way I keep exact track of my day's work. There are times when I work very long hours and there are months without a weekend. During those 'hard' times, I have a husband who cooks for me:-)


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:50
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A husband who cooks for you must be really handy Feb 4, 2010

How did you train him, Hildegard?

Thanks very much for so openly explaining and sharing your way of working. It sounds like your projects mostly come in in the morning, though. I seem to get them coming in at various times of day. If you have mainly the same regular customers, I expect it must help with the organisation. I do not have so many regular ones, but quite a few new ones recently.

On the whole, I like agencies to be a bit communicative and friendly. However, I found I was (unexpectedly) quite pleased with an agency that I started working for only about a month ago. They have an online system, the system sends out a project, and you click on a button to accept it. This generates an automatic PO, and then you do the translation and upload the file afterwards. Even this last step is much quicker and easier than composing an e-mail with which to send the translation, especially if the deadline is at that point tight. Somehow I can't help appreciating this system, although I would not like it if all agencies worked that way, since there would then not be any communication in a day. However, it is the communication which uses up the time!

[Edited at 2010-02-04 00:16 GMT]


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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:50
German to Spanish
+ ...
How do you organise your business day in order to optimise your earnings? Feb 4, 2010

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

Assuming that you have a particular target income that you wish to earn, and that, in order to achieve it, you have to translate a particular number of words per day - and also assuming that it will take you at least 8 hours, or maybe even 9 or 10, to translate that number of words - how do you organise your business day to fit it in?

What I mean is this: if you really manage to get the work to cover those 8 to 10 hours every single day, then that requires a lot of e-mail correspondence to negotiate the work. Maybe it consists of many small projects, for example, and involves a lot of e-mail correspondence, with different PMs, at different times of day. Or, in the case of a larger project, maybe you are sent a .pdf document consisting of 100 pages, and you have to OCR it all and obtain an approximate word count in order to provide a quote After this, you are involved in quite a lot of correspondence to make the arrangements to do the job. How, then, do you manage to fit in the target number of hours of translating as well? Or does it even get to the stage where you have to spend most of the day corresponding and negotiating projects, and can only do the translation work in the evenings and at weekends? It would be interesting if you could share your experience.



Hi, Astrid: I am not going to explain here how I organize my business, neither how to organize yours. But, the basic rule of any business is to do more with less. And I agree with David that all time-eaters sould be supressed during working time.

Some suggestions here you can benefit from (or may be not), because it depends of the idiosyncrasy of each person, residence countries, etc.

Stop and dedicate a full weekend ( and only one ) to think how do you want to organize your life and your work. I am sorry to say this, but both go together. However, may be to stop a short time to think about what we really want to get from our life is the best ROI we can have.

Avoid incoming calls during work time. They are automatic answerers to do this. In the message indicate that if it is urgent, they should call you to the handy. It will be more expensive, but if the job really presses a little expense more will no matter them...

Avoid incoming mail advisers. Check your incoming calls and incomings mails only once in the morning, at midday and at evening. Jobs hardly are so urgent as they try to make to believe us.

Use a scanner with a sheet-feeder. This will allow you to do other things in the meantime. Use a dictation system like Dragon Naturally Speaking. It will save you a lot of time.

Create standarized Word-templates for the paperwork (like invoices, quotes, etc.) in wich you only need to fill a minimum of fields. Or use a manager like TO3000, but you will need the time to set it up correctly. Both will save you time and avoid you make mistakes.

Good luck!

[Editado a las 2010-02-04 00:24 GMT]


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Tina Colquhoun  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:50
Danish to English
+ ...
Ridiculous... Feb 4, 2010

>Avoid incoming calls during work time. They are automatic answerers to do this. In the message indicate that if it is urgent, they should call you to the handy. It will be more expensive, but if the job really presses a little expense more will no matter them...

Avoid incoming mail advisers. Check your incoming calls and incomings mails only once in the morning, at midday and at evening. Jobs hardly are so urgent as they try to make to believe us.<

So basically you advise being too precious to pick up your phone or answer your e-mails during what are essentially working hours? If I were the client, I know where I'd put a translator like that in my pile of preferred translators...


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Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:50
German to Spanish
+ ...
How do you organise your business day in order to optimise your earnings? Feb 4, 2010

Tina Colquhoun wrote:

>Avoid incoming calls during work time. They are automatic answerers to do this. In the message indicate that if it is urgent, they should call you to the handy. It will be more expensive, but if the job really presses a little expense more will no matter them...

Avoid incoming mail advisers. Check your incoming calls and incomings mails only once in the morning, at midday and at evening. Jobs hardly are so urgent as they try to make to believe us.<

So basically you advise being too precious to pick up your phone or answer your e-mails during what are essentially working hours? If I were the client, I know where I'd put a translator like that in my pile of preferred translators...


Do not worry, you are not one of my clients...
So, you can take me on your pile were do you prefer. My clients knows me very well since many years ago and they know I do not allow to distract me when I am concentrating on my job.

And they know also, I usually give them a job in time without mistakes that maybe others do, as they are distracted with a pile of other disturbing things instead of concentrating in his/her job.

[Editado a las 2010-02-04 11:58 GMT]


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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 10:50
English to Spanish
During my working day, I: Feb 4, 2010

7:00 am: Wake-up, go to the bathroom, wash my face and hands.

7:30 am: Make coffee, do some exercise.

8:00 am: Drink coffee while reading my emails and the newspaper (once at a time). TV on as background sound. TV gets my attention when important information is worth it.

9:30 am: Take a bath, with my BlackBerry aside. (If there are emails coming through, I just answer "Yes! Send it!", or "Sorry, not available".)

10:00 am: Take my breakfast.

10:30 am: Work hard until 3:00 p.m.

3:00 pm: Have meal with my family.

4:30 pm: Take 1 and a 1/2 hours nap.

6:00 pm: Back to work and several visits to Proz.com and PayPal.

10:00 pm: PC off.

I do my own invoicing, which doesn't take me long, as I have it all well-organized on my PageMaker software. I even send invoices on PDF. PayPal sends payments direct to my bank account, and I just pick up the money with my debit card. I pay my bills through the Internet.

I work Saturday morning, but I spend the rest of the weekend with my family.

P.S.: My email replies are immediate, but short and concise: Yes, O'k, My rate is, Please send the job, etc. There's no need of much talking.

I think I'm well organized. Or, what do you think?


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david young  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:50
Member (2009)
French to English
Precious? Feb 4, 2010

Tina Colquhoun wrote:

So basically you advise being too precious to pick up your phone or answer your e-mails during what are essentially working hours? If I were the client, I know where I'd put a translator like that in my pile of preferred translators...


As Pablo says, it's a question of training your clientele to respect your need for peace and quiet. Translation is all about concentration. I get work from about 20 different direct clients a month, and zero phone calls.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:50
Flemish to English
+ ...
Find a good caterer. Feb 4, 2010

Here a caterer comes at noon 365 days a year and says "enjoy your meal" and "until tomorrow".
Meals cost 5.5. Euros VAT included.
For that you get soup, your main dish and a dessert.
If the lady is in a good mood, usually on Sundays, you get a meal for free or a more expensive meal another customer did not want for one reason or the other.
Total price: 171 euros per month, VAT included.
These meals are 1/6 tax-deductible.

It saves: gasoline to go to supermarkets, water/gas/electricity to cook and no water spilled for dishwashing either since the plates are disposable and recycable.
Furthermore, the caterer offers a range of other meals, but those cost a bit more.
-*--*-
To me, every translation is a race to get things done. When I am translating, I don't like to be interrupted by PMs asking about their translation. It may be "bad communication", but they will get an answering device.






[Edited at 2010-02-04 09:05 GMT]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:50
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
"now is best" vs. "later is best" Feb 4, 2010

In my case, my main goal is to keep my mind free from worries and to-do's to be able to concentrate on the translation at hand. To achieve that, I separate all incoming and outgoing communications in two categories: the "now is best" category and the "later is best" category. In the "now is best" case, I apply the principle of immediate action and stop the translation for a moment, do whatever is required, and let it completely disappear from my mind until further action is required; things in the "later is best" category are kept on hold until there is ample time to take care of them.

Usual things in the "now is best" category:
- Customer emails and calls (customers can't wait for a reply or for you to call back)
- Planning/staging incoming work
- Assigning tasks to the other people in the team

Usual things in the "later is best" category:
- PO management (asking for pending POs)
- Invoicing/sending invoices/asking about late payments
- Communication with relatives and friends
- Procurement of hardware/software/reference books
- Dealing with other private matters

A "later is best" task very rarely interrupts translation work and "now is best" matters. The goal is to keep productive work moving, and taking care of non-productive matters when all work is delivered, all customers are served and happy, and there is ample time for them.

I admit that it is a very simplistic approach and in fact this is what every busy person does. I just thought I'd summarise the typical tasks in each category.


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xxxjacana54  Identity Verified
Uruguay
English to Spanish
+ ...
interruptions Feb 4, 2010

Hildegard Klein-Bodenheimer wrote:
my computer is always on mute. That means, I don't have to react to every "pling" that announces an incoming e-mail. Usually, I check my e-mails once every hour, more often when I expect a certain answer.


I hate interruptions and make a big effort NOT to pick up the phone when it rings... which has the additional advantage of allowing me to screen calls according to the message on the answering machine.

Most of all, I like having different email accounts:

Gmail: only work, and I give it out only to people with whom I am actually working (never to prospect clients, family or mailing lists). Gmail will show on the toolbar when I have a new message and then I can decide when to read it. I set my status in red when I don't want even those special contacts to interrupt. I always leave emails with texts to be translated in the inbox until I've finished; in each client's folder I keep their confirmation of having received my translation.

Hotmail: 2nd degree of importance... I check this fairly regularly, but not when I need to concentrate... Here I receive, for example, everything that comes via Proz, including Kudoz questions in law.

Montevideo.com: all the rest... I can spend many hours (or even days) without checking this.

Skype in the background, but with a sign that says "I prefer chat messages" and I refuse to find the headset except for listening to music, which is only at the end of the day.

Invoicing: 1st day of the month, but I have a spreadsheet for each client where I add the name of the file and the date as soon as I send it.



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Chandu  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 22:20
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Distribute your activities Feb 4, 2010

Tadzio Carvallo wrote:

7:00 am: Wake-up, go to the bathroom, wash my face and hands.

7:30 am: Make coffee, do some exercise.

8:00 am: Drink coffee while reading my emails and the newspaper (once at a time). TV on as background sound. TV gets my attention when important information is worth it.

9:30 am: Take a bath, with my BlackBerry aside. (If there are emails coming through, I just answer "Yes! Send it!", or "Sorry, not available".)

10:00 am: Take my breakfast.

10:30 am: Work hard until 3:00 p.m.

3:00 pm: Have meal with my family.

4:30 pm: Take 1 and a 1/2 hours nap.

6:00 pm: Back to work and several visits to Proz.com and PayPal.

10:00 pm: PC off.

I do my own invoicing, which doesn't take me long, as I have it all well-organized on my PageMaker software. I even send invoices on PDF. PayPal sends payments direct to my bank account, and I just pick up the money with my debit card. I pay my bills through the Internet.

I work Saturday morning, but I spend the rest of the weekend with my family.

P.S.: My email replies are immediate, but short and concise: Yes, O'k, My rate is, Please send the job, etc. There's no need of much talking.

I think I'm well organized. Or, what do you think?


That's more or less my routine, too.
I manage to look up today's mail on the iPhone during the potty/breakfast period, which follows the morning exercise.
I do attend most calls while working (except those offering car loans, investment expertise etc) because they do mean money. I usually reply to e-mails immediately, too. Clients do appreciate quick yes or no.
I teach in the morning and get to work around 10 am. Lunch at 1.30, coffee at 4.00 pm, go for a walk at 6 pm, followed by playing accordion for one hour. Work during the remaining time.
A drink on weekends. About 2 hours of work after dinner.
I usually make invoices right after finishing the job and send them along with the file, so nothing is left pending. Getting after non-paying clients is a separate item, which must be done during lunch and afternoon coffee.
My wife looks after my accounts and administrative stuff, which is one major time gobbler.
I am setting up T3000 in the in-between gaps and should be really good when done. But is sure a lot of work.


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