Poll: How much time do you spend answering emails/phone calls on an average day?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 16:03
SITE STAFF
Feb 7, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How much time do you spend answering emails/phone calls on an average day?".

This poll was originally submitted by dianaft. View the poll results »



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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:03
Member (2006)
German to English
At least 30 Feb 7, 2015

minutes. But there are some days where I do get inundated, and always at times when I really do not need it.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Feb 7, 2015

It varies. I tend to leave my phone off when I'm busy, as I prefer to be contacted by e-mail.

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 02:03
Turkish to English
+ ...
< 30 minutes Feb 7, 2015

I would guess that this is less than thirty minutes when averaged out over the year (and I am presuming that we are referring to translation business related communications only), but, given the lumpy nature of demand for my services, in practice when I have no work I find myself dealing with very few inquiries, too (i.e. demand at that time is low for the kind of service I provide), but when I am busy, I also find that I am having to handle a lot of inquiries precisely when I have little time to deal with them (i.e. demand at that time is high for the kind of service I provide) - and I then have to reject most of these offers of work due lack of availability. I suspect this is an example of so-called sod's law. I remember the Friday before last landing a good quality job that would take about four days, ending a slack period. Just as I was getting ready to start work, the phone rang. I knew instinctively that this would another quality job offer that I would have to reject owing to lack of availability - and it was.

[Edited at 2015-02-07 09:31 GMT]


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 00:03
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Feb 7, 2015

It varies a lot. I write from 10 to 30 emails every working day on average. All clients contact me by email. I can’t remember receiving a phone call from a client for a long time (I used to when I worked as a sworn translator).

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Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:03
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
I'm rarely below an hour... Feb 7, 2015

... which can be fairly frustrating at times, especially when clients panic if they don't receive an instant reply. This is why I asked the question, as I really think that it is out of proportion - and so far the results seem to confirm that.

When I first started out, I used bidding platforms a lot which require that all direct offers are replied to. Once I achieved a certain rating, I was bombarded with these direct offers, not really in terms of genuine job offers, but more in terms of forcing my rating down or distracting me (or so I think). If I receive a "dear tranzlatorr, I want you translate 800 pages poor quality pdf scan until yesterday for total 50 USD" in my email, I block the sender. Here I had to reply each time. Compulsory responses to ridiculous offers ended up eating a good 3 hours of my day, so I discontinued the platforms.

Then I started working with a few agencies that use their own platforms/CMS systems and communication time has lept out of proportion again, as I can't just look at a text directly, but have to log in, click through a few pages, download from there, then reply (and by that time the text is usually already assigned). So now I only start this process if I haven't received a "job has been assigned" message an hour after the original message, but I feel kind of rude delaying a response in that manner.

Maybe I spend too much time thinking when replying to messages.


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Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:03
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
30 min. to 1 hour Feb 7, 2015

and no frustrations on that account.

I don't recognize the problems listed.


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Gudrun Maydorn  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:03
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
Not every day Feb 7, 2015

I am surprised that you all seem to be getting loads of emails and phone calls every day. I tend to accept fairly few (but large) projects from direct customers rather than translating loads of short texts and working flat-out for agencies that are looking for the lowest possible rates.

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Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:03
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
direct customers are a different story Feb 7, 2015

Gudrun Maydorn wrote:

I am surprised that you all seem to be getting loads of emails and phone calls every day. I tend to accept fairly few (but large) projects from direct customers rather than translating loads of short texts and working flat-out for agencies that are looking for the lowest possible rates.



but they only cover 60% of my workload.
1. They usually only expect an answer within 24 hours, not within the next 30 minutes.
2. Communication is literally "I attach the next project", "Thank you", "I attach the translation", "Thank you"

But I can't really increase the proportion of direct work, because I can't turn down projects if I'm the only supplier for a language pair. When I'm under pressure, I can only turn down agency assignments.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:03
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Why the low rate assumption? Feb 7, 2015

Gudrun Maydorn wrote:
I am surprised that you all seem to be getting loads of emails and phone calls every day. I tend to accept fairly few (but large) projects from direct customers rather than translating loads of short texts and working flat-out for agencies that are looking for the lowest possible rates.

I work on lots of short texts for one agency - that's the nature of this particular job for their client. But that doesn't mean I'm working flat out (not to the extent of sacrificing quality, anyway), and I'm certainly not working for less than my normal rate, which was accepted with no attempt to negotiate it downwards.

Emails with that agency inevitably take more than a few minutes daily, but we've streamlined the process by standardising email subjects to include a prefix that gives one-word info e.g. order, query, delivery... so that for delivery, for example, there isn't much needed apart from the attachment.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:03
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I prefer short jobs Feb 7, 2015

I really do - I've been struggling all week with a 'mere' 12 000 words!

It's a matter of temperament. So I have to spend time on the e-mails, invoicing and whatever else it takes. Don't ask me how long - it varies a lot, but rarely less than an hour per day altogether, I guess.

Some clients have efficient CMS platforms that work. One is very unhappy - and so am I - because their platform is a pain and I gave them a 3 on the BB. They have loads of 5-ratings, but I don't work for them in practice. Their rates don't pay for time lost on hassle.

I simply drop clients like that. I let them know why first, and sometimes I spend a fair amount of time exchanging mails with my clients on this and that. I try to send positive feedback when they really deserve it. I certainly send criticism, as positive as possible, if I have any bright ideas.

And being the stroppy bitch I really am, I write a sharp comment or two when I lose patience, though I delete most of those before I send them.

Mails with ridiculous proposals get short shrift, and so do telephone salesmen wanting to sell me a super new telephony set-up or better lighting for my production area, or asking my firm to give monthly contributions to charities or whatever.

It all takes time. Hey ho... and I have 12 000 words to proofread. At least they are my own!

icon_smile.gif


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Luiz Barucke
Brazil
Local time: 20:03
Member (2013)
Spanish to Portuguese
+ ...
I don't know Feb 7, 2015

I never answer the phone, except when I know who calls me, and it's never about work. All my clients write me. They don't call me.

About mails, I consider them part of my work. Without mails I don't get jobs, I don't negotiate rates, I don't charge. When I'm on it I'm also working. So I answer mails as soon as possible, during all day.


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Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 18:03
German to English
+ ...
answering Gudrun Feb 7, 2015

Gudrun Maydorn wrote:

I am surprised that you all seem to be getting loads of emails and phone calls every day. I tend to accept fairly few (but large) projects from direct customers rather than translating loads of short texts and working flat-out for agencies that are looking for the lowest possible rates.

The size of projects varies but I do a fair number of short texts. A large number of these are for end clients, rather than agencies, and when you charge a flat fee, it works out to a fairly good pay per hour.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
Percentages Feb 7, 2015

On some days, I may spend up to 2 hours on the phone because a long-time client wants to discuss an upcoming project or a headhunter wants to interview me.

On other days, a) nobody calls or b) I don't feel talking to anyone.

My question to Diana and everyone else who measures things in percentages: what's the purpose of measuring activity in percentages? To draw comparisons? To see if you are more or less productive? To find out if some activities are a waste of time?

I guess I just don't like measuring things in percentages; I draw no useful information from such.


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:03
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
2-3 hours Feb 8, 2015

That's all e-mails, including other projects I'm involved in (promoting my book, overseeing its translation into Portuguese, arranging appointments, personal correspondence). I rarely talk on the phone. It's a monstrous time-eater.

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