It’s possible to work and space out your work in many ways, but each email and social media notification will break your concentration. If your work requires you to be focused, you should exit your email and silence your phone for, say, 45 minutes. After that break, you can check your messages. If you don’t get that many emails in the first place, you can check your account a few times a day. You should soon learn how often you need to check your e-mail.
Define the working hours when you’re available and inform your clients about them. Read and reply to your emails only during these hours. If your working hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday, you don’t have to read your emails at any other time – not even on weekends.
Plan in advance the work you need to do during the following weeks as well. If you know that you’ll be in a seminar on Tuesday, leave Tuesday out of your working schedule and do the needed work on Monday. If you’ll be going on a trip during the week, you can redeem the situation by working during the weekend. As an entrepreneur, you are free to arrange your schedule the way you see fit – but the client doesn’t need to know about that and shouldn’t suffer as a result either.
Remember to separate your time management from that of your client’s. If you go to the gym during the day and work during the evening, you can’t charge extra for working late. However, if the client asks in the afternoon if they can get five pages by tomorrow, you can certainly charge for the evening. You tell them that of course you can do it, but unfortunately, you’ll have to work on some earlier commissions during the day and so the work must be done in the evening. However, keep in mind that you can’t charge extra for all types of urgent work. For example, if the client asks a week earlier if you can translate five pages next Friday and you receive the text at 9 a.m., you can’t really charge extra.
Sometimes the deadline truly is absolute, and after it, even the most brilliant translation is worthless. For example, if the stock exchange opens at 9:00 a.m. and the bulletin needs to be public by then, a translation delivered at 9:05 a.m. is undoubtedly late. If the competitive bidding closes at 12 a.m., the client needs to have the documents before it. A late translation can result in sanctions or losses to the client, which means that the translator may be liable for compensation.
Time management is also a factor of profitability. When you’re tired, you work slower and make more mistakes, making your productivity suffer. If you’ve sold a raw translation but start polishing it anyway, the commission may not be profitable for you anymore. If you’re 95 percent satisfied with your text, you can consider how much time it would take to improve the text by one percent. Is it a profitable and a significant addition to the quality? Sometimes when you’ve already become blind to the text, the best course of action is to order a proofreading from a colleague.