In the past week I’ve turned down two assignments. I hate not being able to help potential clients, but perhaps it was for the best, not for them, but for me. I’d just finished proofreading, editing and formatting two very long, over 100,000 word, theses back-to-back, and to be honest, I really needed a break.
Make no mistake, I love working with all my clients, but sometimes I do wonder if people think that I just sit around waiting for their email to pop up in my inbox. I’ve usually got work booked in, at least for a few days ahead, if not weeks in advance. So, whilst I’ll always try to accommodate regular clients with proofreading ‘emergencies’ or small jobs that I can fit into breaks, I do appreciate a little notice.
Time for a break
I do work at the weekend from time to time, but that does mean that I’ll have a break mid-week. This suits me. In fact, I don’t really differentiate between the days of the week, except to be aware that all the shops are closed here on Sundays. These two recent requests came within minutes of each other late one Sunday afternoon. One was to check just the citations and referencing in a long essay. This would have been fine if it were OSCOLA footnotes (anyone who has followed this blog will know that I like nothing more than formatting OSCOLA style). However, it was Harvard in-text citations. I’m not sure how the writer thought I could easily check these without reading the entire text.
The second request was to proofread an essay of over ten thousand words that had not, at that point, been finished, and needed to be handed by nine o’clock the following day. Assuming it was completed within the next couple of hours that only left about twelve hours before the submission deadline, working through the night. It’s important to know your own limitations. I don’t like working in the evening, though I will do if necessary – my eyesight prefers some daylight whilst staring at the screen. I also have to concentrate when proofreading, so I can’t work for more than about six hours a day, 10,000 words a day is about right for me. Whilst many proofreaders claim to do more and turn around 50,000 word pieces in a few hours, but I can’t and won’t claim to do this. It wouldn’t allow me the time to do a proper thorough job that I’d be happy with.
Time management tips
In my website promotional spiel I like to emphasise that I pride myself on the fact that I meet client deadlines and I do this by planning. Here are my tips:
- Know the deadline date – check that you have understood when it is and whether you can get an extension of time if necessary
- Set a reminder – in your diary, on your phone, tie a knot in your hanky, whatever it takes. I suggest setting the date a few days before the actual deadline
- Make a plan – I’ve blogged about this before
- Build in contingency time
- If you need help with the text, book your proofreading before you start writing
I’m sorry if this week’s blog has turned into a bit of a rant! No one likes to turn work away, but sometimes you just know that the request is beyond your (and possibly any good editor’s) physical capacity.