Sometimes it’s hard to keep on top of everything. We always have a lot going on: very long lists of emails to answer, people waiting for us, the phone ringing and just things to do - working as PM is also this. For how much you try to be organised, there is always that new project or query that pops up and makes everything else slide on the bottom of the list for the day.
What I found particularly challenging when I first started managing my own projects and clients, is that every day I would find myself in front of this never-ending list of emails all related to different projects, coming from translators, clients and colleagues. I have experimented several techniques, like sorting out one email at a time, so that I did not have to make a list. Then, I tried to go through them all at the same time and then check them again putting together a list; however, I found that some of these, let’s call them, techniques made me feel every more anxious and less organised.
So, after experimenting and failing and experimenting again, I finally discovered what works for me in order to organise my email inbox and set my tasks for the day! My strategy now consists in having my trusted diary next to me and going through my emails, writing down a task only when needed. Therefore, if it’s a quick email that I need to reply to, I will just do it, but if I need to check 3000 words, I will add a task to the list. Please don’t think that my lists look all beautifully written (see Instagram *coughs* fake *coughs* diaries); they actually look like a mess, but the important thing is that they make sense to me!
This all may seem very silly to you, but understanding that LISTS ARE GOOD has been crucial to me. To do this you do not need anything fancy, so no fancy and expensive glittery diaries (maybe with some unicorns :)), no super rose gold pens or anything like that. You will only need a pen (that works, possibly) and a piece of paper to put down what needs to be done for the day.
Another important part that I wanted to focus on is that I had to learn how to prioritise tasks throughout the day, i.e. understanding what needs to be done first and what can be done later or even tomorrow. This is one of the most important sides of project management, as well as, time management. You need to understand what’s more urgent otherwise you will have clients chasing deliveries, translators waiting to start and a general sense of anxiety (at least for me).
We all know that learning new languages is always exciting, but we also know that keeping them alive is not always easy if we don’t get to practice them every day. That’s why, even though I had previously studied Spanish for five years and got a DELE certificate in Spanish, last year I decided to start ‘refreshing’ my Spanish.
This opportunity came around when I started working as a PM and the company where I work now offered to pay for my course. Being Italian, this is a very interesting option, as it is quite rare that companies offer to pay for your education or personal development in Italy. Therefore, I welcomed this new chance to know more about the Spanish language and culture without thinking too much about it.
I re-started learning Spanish last year in September and I felt quite nervous about getting down to practice it again, but week after week, I felt more comfortable and confident about it. This has a lot to do with the fact that Spanish and Italian are very similar and they share part of the vocabulary, while for English native speakers, learning Spanish could be a bit more of a challenge.
In any case, the Spanish course has been like a breath of fresh air for me compared to the Masters course that I finished not long ago. I really enjoyed it and it had a positive impact both on my mind and on my work. I now feel more free and confident both checking and translating from Spanish as well as sure that my knowledge of that language is up to a high standard. Also, re-learning this language has allowed me to have more flexibility in terms of thinking and considering different perspectives.
I would recommend to anyone to attend a language course, if their daily schedule allows them to.
It opens your mind and provides much more flexibility and happiness (at least to me).