Handling multiple projects as an editor can be difficult. In this article by Patricia Estenoso, learn tips on easing your workload, setting expectations with clients, and prioritizing deadlines without compromising your other priorities in life.
How can an editor complete multiple projects simultaneously?
Have an editing process in mind. Decide which you should check first: the client's style, tone, or grammar. You need to arrange it so that you don't miss anything.
Also, prepare your style guide next to you. Preferably, an electronic copy to easily search for terms. If you don't have a style guide, it helps to review your previous notes or articles/texts submitted to a client.
Add time to rest or to refresh. It doesn’t matter if it is 5, 10, or 20 minutes of break. You decide, but make sure to set an alarm so that you don't doze off or overbreak.
In addition to all these, have a checklist ready! Whether it's an app or a journal, you need to have something handy to make sure you have everything covered. I actually make comprehensive checklists so that I meet every client's expectations.
How can editors prioritize deadlines while staying on track?
Check the difficulty of the texts first. Skim through it before editing anything. If there are specific instructions from a client, take note of how much time or effort that would take to do.
After you assess the difficulty of the text, set realistic deadlines. Don't try to cram it all up in a certain timeframe. You can get overwhelmed when you find yourself stuck with multiple and impossible deadlines. It can be difficult, but you have to be honest with a client right away if the given deadline is impossible to meet.
But of course, you need to know the clients' expectations. Are they expecting speed over quality? Or the other way around? Discuss it in a way that it's a win-win situation for the both of you.
How can an editor ease their workload?
It would depend on each editor's style. There are editors who want to edit stuff in one sitting, and there are editors who need breaks for every finished task.
Still, when it comes to accepting editing tasks, if you are given the golden opportunity to reject a task, then do so. Don't overexert yourself because you might increase the chance of submitting a half-baked output.
But if you are not, it is best to give breaks away from your device or manuscript for 20 minutes or so. Walk around for a bit or have a snack. Take your mind away from your task for a bit. Science says sitting around all day is not good for our health.
How can editors set appropriate expectations with clients?
You would know your client better than anyone else. But if it is your first time meeting them, it is best to ask questions. Ask them about their expectations of your editing tasks. For example, how long are you expected to edit a manuscript? Aside from grammar, what are other things that they want you to look into?
Always discuss deadlines or other concerns with their best interests in mind. Example, why should they give you a three-week deadline for a particular manuscript?
For your benefit, of course, you don't want to get stressed out and you still have other projects to attend to. But for them, what would be the benefit? You can ensure them that if they give you the said deadline, you will be able to submit a great output because of the time allotment.
How do you beat procrastination as an editor?
I think procrastination is part of any person's life. And if you are the type who knows that you procrastinate, you have to start by accepting that you do procrastinate.
Once you accept it, determine your procrastination habits. Target them one by one. But don't pressure yourself into changing procrastinating habits immediately. Success doesn’t happen overnight, and that includes successfully beating bad habits.
So, for example, you might always say that you'll start editing by 10:30. You look at the clock later and it's 10:35, so you'll say that you'll start at 11:00 instead. But instead of putting off the task, just start anyway.
What tips can you give to edit difficult topics faster?
For new projects, it helps to skim through the texts first before editing anything. In this way, you can assess the difficulty of the topic. You can use that to schedule your editing process for each text.
But if you are given little to no time to skim or prepare, have your usual editing process ready. Have electronic and print resources next to you. Make sure to have Wi-Fi or mobile data ready as well, so that you can easily search for technical terms.
Personally, I used to only accept topics that I am familiar with because that is the easier way to eliminate difficulty. But as years went by, I realized that another viable way to lessen the difficulty of texts is to diversify my expertise. So, I read up and check out other topics or types of texts in my free time.
What are resources for managing multiple projects?
For managing multiple projects, use the project management app or software that your client expects you to use. But if there aren't mandatory apps to download, you can try downloading free or premium apps based on your device’s operating system (OS).
Download the app on your laptop, tablet, and mobile phone so that you can get notifications, anywhere and anytime. During your breaks, it would also be easier to turn off everything. But you also need to check if the app has available versions for different devices or OS. It would be a waste of time to download an app that is not compatible or doesn’t support your device’s current OS.
If you ask me what is the best app out there, I would say there are lots of amazing apps/software in the app stores of your devices. You may have to explore according to your budget (if you intend on purchasing a premium) or your expected features.
But if you are not a fan of apps, you can always write them down in a handy notebook. Use nice-looking journals as added motivation to finish those tasks. But not too nice that you wouldn't want to write down anything in there!
Read more from Patricia Estenoso in her previous #ACESChat here.