Organizing your work
Thread poster: Rafaela Lemos

Rafaela Lemos  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:02
Italian to Portuguese
+ ...
Dec 13, 2007

Hello dear all,

I would like to ask all of you how you manage and organize your translation projects.

Is there any informatic program that you can put all the information you need about the translation projects you have to perform?

Because after some months working intensively as a translator, I find myself in a big big workflow: I have one book of 100 pages related to Law (Italian > Portuguese); 1 big project about glass materials of 44000 words (Italian > Portuguese); 1 literary book of 60000 words that is going to be published in Portugal (English > Portuguese). Everything with closed deadlines - January and February.

I was wondering if there is a magical way of organizing myself by using the computer - maybe by writing down my daily turnaround (eg. 3500 words), the magical program will say: you have 8 days to complete the task.

I might seem crazy, but such thing could be useful!

Please tell me your ideas and opinions and how you organize yourselves.

Thank you so much.

Best regards,

Rafaela Lemos


Direct link Reply with quote
 

José Miguel Braña Montaña  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:02
Member (2007)
French to Spanish
+ ...
Article "How to organize a translation office - with Translation Office 3000" Dec 13, 2007

Hi Rafaela,

A couple of days ago I've read this article by Viktoria Gimbe.

Having not use TO3000 myself I cannot recommend it and I am not sure it will suit your needs, but hope it helps.

Best regards,

Miguel


Direct link Reply with quote
 

patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:02
Spanish to English
+ ...
I just wanted Dec 13, 2007

to congratulate you on your workload. Way to go!

Paty


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Claudia Alvis  Identity Verified
Peru
Local time: 16:02
Spanish
+ ...
TO3000 Dec 13, 2007

José Miguel Braña Montaña wrote:

Hi Rafaela,

A couple of days ago I've read this article by Viktoria Gimbe.

Having not use TO3000 myself I cannot recommend it and I am not sure it will suit your needs, but hope it helps.

Best regards,

Miguel


I do use TO3000 to organize my work and I love it. Check out this post.

Claudia

Rafaela Lemos wrote:

I was wondering if there is a magical way of organizing myself by using the computer - maybe by writing down my daily turnaround (eg. 3500 words), the magical program will say: you have 8 days to complete the task.


That, it can't do. It displays the deadline, but not based on your daily output.

[Edited at 2007-12-13 16:39]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Claudia Krysztofiak  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:02
English to German
+ ...
What about simple mathematics? Dec 13, 2007

Until End of February you have about 51 working days left, more if you also include the holidays and weekends.

You have all in all 104000 words plus 100 pages to translate in 51 days.

104000 words divided by 51 days is: about 2040 words per work day. Plus roughly 2 pages.

You can make similar calculations for each individual project:
Take the amount you have to do and divide it by the work days until the deadline and you see what you have to do each day.

Then you can for example prepare an Excel sheet with one column for every work day and one row for every project. Fill in the daily workload you have calculated and sum it up across the projects. Then you know what you have to do each day.
You can of course start to play with the amounts and combinations. If you sum up the days for each row, you can make sure, the overall amount for each project stays the same, even though you may reduce the daily workload for a longer running project in the beginning if you have more urgent work to do.

Feel free to include the weekends for a lower daily workload or to include some buffer time for proof-reading (which I would always suggest), so you receive a higher daily workload. (Make sure your average daily workload does not exceed your normal daily turnaround or sooner or later it may affect health and quality. )

Make sure you manage at least this target workload every day, then everything is fine and relaxed and there is no surplus adrenaline before a deadline. And you can also see, if you have still some time left for additional small or rush jobs in between.

This is a very simple method and I find it very helpful. I try to avoid complicated project management software that makes assumptions on my behalf which I can no longer understand (I hate it when a program tries to outsmart me! Maybe I am just getting old ... ).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:02
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Be more specific Dec 13, 2007

It seems like you are asking two different things here if I have understood you correctly:
(1) How long it will take to complete a particular job
(2) General advice on methods or tools for project organization

#1 you must answer yourself based on your work metrics. You know how many words are in a given project. Measure how many words you accomplish per hour - usually it's a good idea to average this over several hours or days. Then just divide to get your answer. For example, if the project has 69,000 words in it and you figure out that you are translating about 300 words per hour on the average, it will take you a total of 69000/300 = 230 hours to finish. If you translate 6 hours per day that's about 38 days total (230/6). No special software necessary, but you might set up a simple spreadsheet to track the metrics on a number of jobs in order to help you predict your workload more accurately. I did this for a few years and after a while I could nearly always predict the real effort of a project to within 10% or better.

For #2 there are a number of tools out there to "help". TO3000 is OK - it is certainly a good value for the money and offers nice invoice templates, price sheet management and other stuff. I think there's even a half price sale going on for it this month, so you might want to download a demo and check it out. I used it for a while until I needed something with a bit more scope, but I think it's very good for a single freelancer working alone.

However, with TO3000 or *any other workflow management system* for translation, problems may arise when the projects come in fast and you are just buried dealing with e-mail inquiries, phone calls and trying to get work done. This can quickly become the case if you take on a bunch of small stuff. Often what happens is that projects don't get entered until they are ready to invoice, so if you depend on "to do" lists from your software, these may quickly become unreliable.

To deal with this problem and also facilitate an easy overview of work to be done WITHOUT the need for any special software, I came up with a system that uses project folder naming to keep track of jobs to do, jobs done but not billed, jobs billed, etc.

I have three folders at the top level:
1. "Current and Unbilled" - contains current & unbilled projects
2. "Billed" - invoiced projects
3. "Projects by Customer" - contains subfolders for individual clients. Each client subfolder will contain shortcuts to billed projects for that client.

When a new project starts, I create a subfolder inside "Current and Unbilled". The folder is named according to the following convention:
YYYY-MM-DD
For example: 2007-10-18 Lionbridge contract 3K wds 11 am

If you name your projects this way, a List or Details view in MS Windows will sort the folders in the order of date due by default.

Once a project is finished, if it is not billed right away, you might want to remove it from the date due sorting by adding "done" or something else in front of the folder name, for example:
x 2007-10-18 Lionbridge contract 3K wds 11 am
If I have delivered on a date other than that indicated, I usually update the folder name accordingly.

When the project is invoiced, I add the invoice number to the front of the project folder name, for example:
1576 2007-10-18 Lionbridge contract 3K wds 11 am
The project folder is then moved into the "Billed" folder (top level), copied, and a *shortcut* to the project folder is placed inside the appropriate client subfolder of "Projects by Customer" (top level).

If this system is followed, the "Billed" folder will show all invoiced projects in the order of invoice number by default in the Details or List view of Windows. The client subfolders of the "Projects by Customer" folder also show projects for that client by invoice number in the Details or List view.

If a lot of one-off projects are done for private persons or companies you don't expect to do a lot with, you might consider a "Private Persons" or Miscellaneous" subfolder in the "Projects by Customer" folder and dump the shortcuts in there until there are enough to warrant a dedicated folder for a given client.

In three years of testing this system so far while using a translation workflow system (LTC) at the same time, very often the folder list is where I must look to see what is really current.

Each project folder contains certain basic information: I always save a copy of all relevant e-mail correspondence for the project in the folder, and there is a file with notes for billing, subfolders for source files, delivered files and references. But that is really less important and is best done in whatever way suits your needs best. The really important part to stick to is the naming conventions for folders and the organization of the top-level folders.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:02
English to Spanish
I don´t want to be critical but... Dec 13, 2007

Hi Rafaela,

I really have no intention of criticising the way you´ve handled this situation, but it amazes me that you have agreed to all this workload before you actually decided how to manage the projects.

I truly believe that any attempt at project management has to be done before you accept any project or you´ll go mad trying to do everything right and with the highest quality.

I believe that, as a translator, you must be very aware, not only of your daily output, but also of all the things that can hinder your performance. If we´re talking about deadlines in January and February, the more reason to plan before saying yes. It always seems like a long time when the deadline is months ahead, but after a while you find yourself having to plan every minute not to fail...


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Rafaela Lemos  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:02
Italian to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I'm still organizing my time Dec 13, 2007

"I really have no intention of criticising the way you´ve handled this situation, but it amazes me that you have agreed to all this workload before you actually decided how to manage the projects."



Dear colleague, thanks for the constructive advice - actually I haven't accepted yet the project of 45000 words, that's why I wrote here, so I could get some tips on how to organise my time.
So I really thank all the advice and information you all are posting here - I have nearly one year experience with translation, but I'm sure I've already translated much more than people that have been 5 years on the business - this is not a criticism, it's just the way I dedicated myself to what I love to do: translating.

So you can understand better, these are the deadlines:

Project 1- 100 pages - deadline 12 January - comment: pretty possible, translating 10 pages a day, I can finish this project within 10-13 days.

Project 2- 62 000 words - deadline 28 February - comment: it's a book - I can translate up to 4000 words a day, so it'll be more or less 16 working days.

Project 3 - 45000 words - not confirmed yet, deadline 17 January - it's a technical document, translating 3500 words/day, it'll be finished within 13 days.
(I'm considering in sharing with a colleague 50% / 50%)

I just wrote down here so I could process the information better. But it's pretty doable, isn't it?

Thank you once again for all your advice.

Cheers,

Rafaela


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Tatiana Neamţu
Romania
Local time: 00:02
English to Romanian
+ ...
Wonderful post, Kevin Dec 14, 2007

Thank you for your input. I have been working in this field for 4 years now. And I use a system of folders in Commander based on language combination, customers, source and target etc. As projects began to multiply I found out that my system is deficient because I cannot keep track of projects with different deadlines....
Your's is just brilliant, thank you. From Jan 2008 I'll have a brand new make-up of all my folders. Hopefully with obvious results in time management as well....:)


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:02
English to Spanish
That sounds a lot better now Dec 14, 2007

Rafaela Lemos wrote:

"I really have no intention of criticising the way you´ve handled this situation, but it amazes me that you have agreed to all this workload before you actually decided how to manage the projects."


So you can understand better, these are the deadlines:

Project 1- 100 pages - deadline 12 January - comment: pretty possible, translating 10 pages a day, I can finish this project within 10-13 days.

Project 2- 62 000 words - deadline 28 February - comment: it's a book - I can translate up to 4000 words a day, so it'll be more or less 16 working days.

Project 3 - 45000 words - not confirmed yet, deadline 17 January - it's a technical document, translating 3500 words/day, it'll be finished within 13 days.
(I'm considering in sharing with a colleague 50% / 50%)

Rafaela


Hi again, Rafaela,

Now it all makes a lot more sense. Thank you for replying.

I don´t use tools that specifically address translators problems, but tools like Microsoft Project to organise my workload, because the same principle applies.

With a project management tool, I can see any overlapping tasks, impossible deadlines, but also everything that I can do realistically. And when I want to have an easy visual reminder of what´s in store for me, I use two calendars. On one calendar I mark all the projects in different colors and use a second one to show any changes in progress.

Back to the idea of the tool, it takes time to prepare it before you can obtain any meaningful results if you haven´t used it before.

If you feel you have time to sit down and have a go at the suggestions our colleagues can advice, then it´s all to gain. But if this is going to become an obstacle at a point where you probably have to make decisions quickly, then trust your instinct and use what you´ve always used: your experience.

Good luck!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:02
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Necessity Dec 14, 2007

Tatiana Neamţu wrote:
... I use a system of folders in Commander based on language combination, customers, source and target etc. As projects began to multiply I found out that my system is deficient because I cannot keep track of projects with different deadlines....
Your's is just brilliant, thank you. From Jan 2008 I'll have a brand new make-up of all my folders....


Thank you for the kind words, Tatiana. This system was developed out of pure necessity. From 2000 to 2004 I worked by myself and tried various folder organization methods: by client at the top level usually with various subfolders for finished projects, invoices (for individual clients!! this was before changes in German invoice requirements), paid invoices, etc. No matter how this was organized, I never had a good overview of work to do without writing separate lists, and often I was too busy to do so and would rely on lists in Outlook (along with automated reminders). That worked reasonably well UNTIL I combined my business with that of my partner (Monique Simmer), who had a very different way of organizing her files. We have a shared drive on which all projects are organized and archived, and it soon became clear to both of us that a strictly defined system was needed with which either of us could look up all the important project information ASAP if the other person was out of the office. So we came up with this system, which has served us well for about three years now. Other people who have worked in the office with us can find information, too, with very little effort. Overall it has saved us huge amounts of time and also serves as a confirmation of the to-do lists from our workflow software.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Cecilia Falk  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:02
English to Swedish
Folder system and project numbers Dec 14, 2007

I have also developed a folder system, but with one folder for each client, and then subfolders with project numbers. These subfolders are also divided into subfolders. I have made a template project folder with all these subfolders so I do not have to create them everytime - just copy the template folder to the clients folder and rename it with the project number.

"Part 2" of my system is a spreadsheet where I list all projects with PO numbers, my internal project number, deadline, price, etc. When I invoice I put an x in a column, and then the total of invoices, non-invoiced, total sum so far this year, etc, is updated at the top. I also have another tab where the current total is inserted in a grid with all the months of the year. I know how much I need to invoice on avarage per month to keep my budget, and in this grid I can see how much I have invoiced on avarage so far per month, and also for the whole year.
Every new year I insert a copy of this tab in a separate spreadsheet so I can check how well I am doing compared to other years. (I also have a tab for outsourced work, so that these sums are deducted from my personal total.)

To make the spreadsheet easier to overview I also use conditional formatting with different colors to see what has been delivered, invoiced, what is pending, etc.

Over Christmas I always improve and rearrange the spreadsheet with new clever functions - I love doing that!
Some of my collegues also use it, and from now and then we compare our figures.

Best regards,
Cecilia

PS. For large projects, like translation of fiction, I also have a spreadsheet where I calculate how much I have to translate and then edit every day to keep the deadline. It is dynamic so if I translate less or more than needed, the figures changes. This also mean that I can determine which types of assignments I ought to prioritize from a financial point of view based on the hourly output. DS.

[Edited at 2007-12-14 15:14]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Krys Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:02
Member (2003)
Polish to English
+ ...
Words per hour can be so variable Dec 15, 2007

I have TO3000 but found it has become almost useless in the latest version. Before I was able to enter jobs within minutes without thinking too hard. Now I have to move between project and client views, find I cannot edit what I need where I am. I have pretty well given up on it and instead use labels within my Google mail account to remind me of deadlines.

As for general organisation, daily output etc, in my case this is so variable that I cannot use it for overall calculations. A couple of examples:

A couple of days ago, I had to translate a medical report. I've translated a large number of medical reports and usually can do them on autopilot. However, this one went into the minutest detail of the phenomena and signs investigated. I had to research literally every other term. When I succeeded in finding the equivalent term in English, my partner, who is a hospital consultant with over 30 years experience, could not recognise many of them. My output for this job averaged 100 words per hour, so I was probably earning approximately the same per hour as a burger flipper in McDonalds.

On the other hand, yesterday and today I cleared 7000+ words of clinical trial documentation in about 9 hours, i.e. just under 800 words per hour, which gave me an hourly rate that put a smile on my face.

For me, this is one of the greatest problems. A client phones and says they need 1000 words translated. This might take me anything between 1.5 and 10 hours, so how can I organise my time????


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Robin Salmon  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 07:02
German to English
+ ...
Simple as possible Dec 16, 2007

As others have discussed planning ahead, I just wanted to share my experience of record keeping. What I find is that good record keeping keeps you motivated.

After I had been translating for a couple of years I read a book about running your own business. The main point it made was that people would be better organised if they did not make their system too complicated.

The main recommendation was a work record sheet. I organise it on a weekly basis on a Word table with a space for the day, one containing the agency, the type of job(s) and the number of words (can be two to three jobs per day), a space for the number of daily words and a space for the daily amount earned. At the end of the week I can see clearly how much I earned by adding up the figures. This works both ways - if I have only earned 200.00 € it is a wake-up call but if I have earned 800 € I can be pretty satisfied. It is an incentive - negative or positive. I print the blank record sheets on A4 paper, landscape view, clamped together with a big clip, which I hang on the nail at the side of my desk.

As for jobs done, I have three folders for each customer in "My Documents" - e.g. Bloggs Source, Bloggs Uncleaned (I use Trados) and Bloggs Target.

With invoices, I put them in a folder. When I make up each one, I print it out and add it to my pile of invoices, putting it on the bottom. That way the invoice outstanding the longest is always at the top of the pile. Then it is the big clip on a nail system again. When tan invoice is paid, I put in my tax records folder in my filing cabinet.


The thing I find most useful is Eudora's mailbox system. I have a mailbox for all of my customers and so I am able to check back over the past emails, to check what I have already said and what the customer has told me. This can be useful, for example, if the customer tries to get you to do a job for a lower price than previously agreed. It is possible to keep past of e-mails for years.

Thanks for the tips, Kevin and others. As a person not naturally well-organised, I am grateful for anything I can adopt, as long as I know that it is simple enough for me to use (I just "spit the dummy", to use an Australian expression, if the system is too complicated).


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Annty Lee
China
Local time: 05:02
English to Chinese
+ ...
a good habit makes you work easy Dec 18, 2007

I am new freelance, so I have a lot of things to learn, till now, i still not have big project, I hope one day, I can have many many projects to do, at that time, every will be esay to solve, because I learnt a lot here, from all of you.

Hope all of you help me, and welcome to China one day!


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 »

Organizing your work

Advanced search







memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
Wordfast Pro
Translation Memory Software for Any Platform

Exclusive discount for ProZ.com users! Save over 13% when purchasing Wordfast Pro through ProZ.com. Wordfast is the world's #1 provider of platform-independent Translation Memory software. Consistently ranked the most user-friendly and highest value

More info »



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