Lesson 130: Managing non-translation projects for business development

Lesson 130: Managing non-translation projects for business development

Thank you for following this series on putting things into practice so closely! We’ve had some great discussions and it’s good to know you’re benefitting from this topic. I wanted to dedicate the last article in this series to managing non-translation projects, that is everything related to running our marketing, sales, business development or even day-to-day operations.

Of course, we know how to manage *translation* projects very well (at least we should!), but very often all the development projects suffer from neglect or under-management. Earlier in the series we talked about making the most out of all the ideas that are floating around and all the inspiration that you draw from events and conferences. In this article I’d like to present some tools and methodologies to actually work on the projects you’ve identified.

Getting Things Done methodology

Having learned about it from one colleagues, I’ve been trying to apply the GTD methodology in my business for a good few months now. If you’re not familiar with it yet, GTD forces you to act upon your ideas and plans. Here’s what GTD recommends:
1) Capture: write all your ideas, to-dos and tasks down on paper or on your device. The idea is that you have to make it easy to capture information so you don’t put things off for later. I use my whiteboard to collect ideas and plans, I just write them down the moment they come to my mind. If I’m away, I use my smartphone or tablet to send emails to myself (the founder of this methodology would probably tell me off for adding to my never-ending pile of emails, but it works for me) to act as reminders.
2) Clarify: GTD puts a lot of emphasis on actually breaking your to-do points into actionable steps. This is often complemented with the 2 minute rule: if you can do it in 2 minutes, do it now, but if it’s going to take longer, schedule some time to do it later. If you can delegate something, do it. I’ve been delegating a range of tasks for 2 years now and this has freed up a considerable amount of time in my diary.
3) Organise: put actionable items in categories and by priority, plus assign due dates and set reminders. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you have dozens of plans, ideas and to-do lists, so actually spreading it across a period of time and prioritising can help you get out of the paralysis mode.
4) Reflect: look at to-dos to figure out the next step, improve existing points and pick things you have time and energy to do right now. This is an important step for me as I usually have a variety of tasks on my plate that require different skills and levels of engagement. It’s essential for me to identify what I feel like doing right now and picking the right type of task. On a Friday afternoon, I may not feel like writing a blog article or doing marketing, but I can certainly go through a pile of documents to shred.
5) Engage: choose your next action and get to it. If things are well-described and organised, it becomes much easier to pick up any task, starting with smaller items, to work on them. I usually prepare my list for the day in the morning when I can estimate requirements and my energy levels.


With its origins in the manufacturing industry, Kanban has been widely adopted in many project management environments. In its most basic form, Kanban urges you to use cards or post-it notes, something to stick them onto and a pen. Your Kanban board should be divided into: To do, Doing and Done. The idea is to write down all steps in each project on post-its and move them from To do, to Doing and to Done. This gives you a visual representation of what you’re working on and what’s in the pipeline. I’ve worked using my Kanban and a whiteboard up until last year when I started travelling more and it became increasingly harder to keep the whiteboard updated.

Kanban translation

Kanban translation

Gantt charts

Beautiful in their simplicity and deadline-oriented, Gantt charts allow for representation of your projects on a timeline showing the logical sequence of all tasks. I personally find Gantt charts great for marketing projects where I know what I have to do first so I can move on to the next stage.

Gantt translation

When it comes to overall business management for the whole year, you may also enjoy the article I wrote for CTA blog on getting things done for translators.

PS Voting for best language professional blogs is now open! I’d be honoured if you decided to vote for me (look for Wantwords, bottom of the page).