Poll: What is the maximum number of projects you work on at any one time?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 02:19
Apr 24, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What is the maximum number of projects you work on at any one time?".

This poll was originally submitted by Jo McAuley

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


Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:19
French to English
+ ...
depends... Apr 24, 2007

I sometimes have projects stacked up for the next couple of weeks - perhaps 6 or more - but I'll only ever be working on one at a time, otherwise I get confused. I'll always keep a written record of what I have lined up, though.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
I replied N/A Apr 24, 2007

... because I seldom have more than 2 or 3 large jobs ("projects" sounds rather grand IMO, especially if they are less than 2000 words or so) going at the same time, and find it relaxing to change from one subject to another. It helps if you can juggle the deadlines too, since if they are all "urgent" you can't really take on more than one at a time.


Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Member (2002)
+ ...
When does a job turn into a project? Apr 24, 2007

I normally have several projects on my desk at the same time, switching between them to keep clients happy. But it would be good to know what definition we have for a job and for a project. Are projects, from your perspective, something you work with for several weeks, and jobs something you start and finish the same day?


[Bearbeitet am 2007-04-24 17:31]


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
Multi-tasking Apr 24, 2007

It's something that has to be done at times, different jobs coming in at the same time. I try to get the small ones out of the way and slide them in between the bigger ones. It don't like to put anyone "in line", especially when it's a job I can do for them quickly.

It's better to be able just to concentrate on one thing at a time, but the real world just does not work that way, so it is good that we learn to be multi-taskers.


Rolf Kern  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:19
English to German
+ ...
Question not very clear Apr 24, 2007

I cannot work at several projects at any one time, i.e. jump from one to another. But I can have a pile of any number of projects I work on one after the other. It's a question of delays. If a project does not fit in, I must reject.


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:19
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Absolutely Rolf! Apr 24, 2007

Rolf Kern wrote:

I cannot work at several projects at any one time, i.e. jump from one to another. But I can have a pile of any number of projects I work on one after the other. It's a question of delays. If a project does not fit in, I must reject.

I also voted N/A as I considered that the question was not very clear...

I simply agree with what you said. I can only work on one project at a time and try to finish it before tackling anything else. However, we sometimes stop a larger project for a moment or a couple of hours to take care of some urgent, smaller one in between.


Local time: 19:19
Italian to English
2 - 3 Apr 24, 2007

I can easily work on 3 max. without going crazy! However, it all depends on my need of cash and the time I actually have on my hands!


chopra_2002  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:49
Member (2008)
English to Hindi
+ ...
It depends Apr 25, 2007

If the projects are small and the deadlines are not tight, I can work on more than 4 projects simultaneously but if I am working on a big and complicated project, it won't be possible for me to undertake some new project.


ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:19
English to French
+ ...
4 at the moment Apr 25, 2007

Although I have to say I would not take on more than this.

I use project management software to keep on top of things. Otherwise, it would be one at a time. And yes, I work on them simultaneously - well, not in real time, but I do jump to another project before finishing the one I was working on before. It is nice stretching for the brain - now I sound like a workaholic! - and besides, it's fun to touch several different documents in a day, keeps me motivated.

I consider the difference between jobs and projects to be about the same as between client and customer - they mean more or less the same beside very subtle differences. I actually don't like job, because the term takes me back to when I was an employee... yuck! Also, the proper sense of the word project is actually somewhat closer to what we are discussing here - it means a bunch of tasks that belong together that are performed over an unspecified period of time, that is, it's not a mere task. This is exactly what freelancing is all about. I have, among my four current projects, one that consists of only 4000 words, yet there is a specific procedure to apply and there are five different tasks I perform as translator, and that is before editing and proofreading, so I find it complex enough to call it a project (especially since several components of it are billed at different rates, so this single document will end up becoming a multi-line invoice). To me, any translation is a project because any translation consists of at least three tasks: translation, proofreading and invoicing. Add terminology research, validation, conversion, DTP, quality assurance and you've got yourself a project true to the meaning of the word - even if it's just a few hundred words we're talking about.

I guess, considering the not so great difference between the two, it's a question of preference. Do I hate that word "customer"!icon_biggrin.gif


Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:19
French to English
+ ...
Depends also Apr 25, 2007

I have one client who gives me enough work to keep busy pretty much "full time". Of course not wanting to put all of my eggs in one basket, I occasionally have two or three jobs/projects for different clients on the go at the same time.

As others have said, I will try to fit a short job in at the end of the day or over my lunch hour if it is feasible, but do prefer to work at least a full half-day on a job or project whenever possible. It takes time to get into the style of a translation and flipping too quickly from one to another can affect this.

I do a lot of editing for my biggest client, however, and here the situation is a bit different as I have anywhere from one to six or even seven different projects on the go. Again, I try to organise my schedule in such a way as to avoid jumping from one thing to another and back again. I block 8 to 10am for A, 10 to 12pm for B, 2 to 4pm for C, etc., and try not to come back to A until the next day. This is of course the ideal and occasionally something "urgent" comes up making A, B, C, and D be put on hold for a few days whilst I work on X, and so on.


[Edited at 2007-04-25 06:34]


Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:19
Italian to English
+ ...
N/A Apr 25, 2007

As I'm not sure I understand the question, for the same reasons as other posters.

I can have any number of jobs lined up, and may have several deadlines for a given day. So I'll tend to translate one job, then another, and maybe a third, and then go back to the first one to check my translation, then the second, and so on. If I can leave the final checking overnight so much the better, but if not the mental break deriving from changing subject is better than nothing.


John Cutler  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
1,2,3 Apr 25, 2007

J S wrote:

I have one client who gives me enough work to keep busy pretty much "full time". Of course not wanting to put all of my eggs in one basket, I occasionally have two or three jobs/projects for different clients on the go at the same time.


[Edited at 2007-04-25 06:34]

I'm in the same situation. I have one client who could keep me busy more than 40 hours a week but somehow I just can't pass up taking on additional work (it's probably based on that built-in fear freelancers have of never knowing when the work will come to an end or when something new will come along).

I'm lucky though because my second and third clients are never in a huge hurry, so I don't get too stressed out

PS. I thought the question was worded perfectly well. My advice for poll participators is TIAFV (Take it at face value!)

[Editado a las 2007-04-25 12:16]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:19
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Preferably one at a time, but... Apr 25, 2007

I've been thinking about this one.

I ended up voting 2-3 after one of those days when I really needed to multitask! The situation looked a bit like this:

Project 1 in the background is the big job whose deadline is not too tight (yeticon_biggrin.gif )

Job 2 is a complaint about another translator's work. I did not have time to do the job myself last week, but I know the end client. The printer is waiting... icon_frown.gif

Discussions back and forth - the text is not bad at all, just not precisely what I would have written all the way through. I call the client who is at lunch.

Back to job 1 for half an hour.

Client 2 calls me and we talk through the text. I persuade her that variety in a marketing text is refreshing. We patch it up and I send a new file. I report back to the agency and mail the amended file - but their server is down...

Project 3 is the 8-word job that turns out to be an update of a 500-word text I did a month ago. Client wants it yesterday, or at least ASAP...

Close down the TM for job 1, find the other TM... Client 2 on the phone again. Another half hour's discussion, but we agree on a final version for the printer.

Job 3 goes nicely through Trados. Client 3 calls, and I rush to send the file and forget to clean it up... Panic at the other end, new phone call, new clean file in the mail...

Then finally I get back to job 1 for 20 minutes ... and the agency calls about job 2, which is still stuck in their server.

Not to mention the neighbour calling to hear about a sick friend's recovery, shopping, coffee, fresh air (what's that?) and my husband hoping for some supper at the end of the day. Job 1 is beginning to look like a rush after all!

All in a day's workicon_biggrin.gif I am thankful I don't work in an open-plan office with everybody's else's phone and clients going just as mad as my own ...

Happy translating, folks!


Anthony Baldwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:19
Portuguese to English
+ ...
out of memory Apr 25, 2007

I´ve had as many as 4 projects going at once, but it was a rollercoaster ride.
I was juggling the project to meet the respective deadlines, etc.
I outsourced portions of one project, and worked with hardly any sleep for a two weeks.
I made all the deadlines.
That was a good week for income.
I´d like more weeks like that.
It is most usual for me to have only one or two projects working simultaneously, occasionally three...
But, if the deadlines and scope of the projects, availability of resources and/or collaborators allow, I will take as many as 5.
More than that and my brain sizzles...

Of course, as others have indicated, I am generally only working directly on one project at any given moment, although I may have several hanging in the balance.
Sometimes I may be working on one, while communicating with another professional to whom I have outsourced other work, but, I figure that´s about as close as I get to actually working on more than one project truly simultaneously.
I could, even, be doing the above, and also assisting/communicating with the Mrs. to whom I may have ¨outsourced¨ yet another project.
For instance, I have a school system for a client that often sends me letters to go home to parents to be translated to both Portuguese and Spanish (many hispanic and Brazilian families in the system).
I could give the EN/PT to the Mrs., be on MSN with my favorite EN/ES translator in Buenos Aires while she works on the same letter, and be working on an entirely distinct project, myself.
Then, if you consider that I also do interpreting, I could field a conference phone call for a client in the midst of all of that.
At times, I find myself thinking/speaking/reading/working in all four of my languages in a very small space of time, which can get rattling.
Not any worse than watching the World Cup on Univision in Spanish, convsersing with the Mrs in Portuguese and translating a text from French to English all at the same time...
I just wish I could find space in my head for more RAM or a faster CPU...

[Edited at 2007-04-25 14:12]


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