Better Translating – Part VIII: The Right Time To Deliver


translation delivery times

It’s very important not to deliver your translation too late early.

Being on time is important, but dangerous

Remember when you were just starting our as a translator, and you were so happy when you finished translations ahead of schedule? “Yeh, I’m the fastest translator! Let’s send this off now and the client will be delighted!”

Yes, but… Sending translations off early has some disadvantages that we should be aware of:

  1. It can cause a bad impression with the client. Seriously. Imagine you just agreed, through gritted teeth, to pay a translator 100 euros for a few paragraphs, and then you get the translation after two hours! Surely, someone’s taken the ****, right? You’ve just paid your translator 50 euros per hour. Surely they haven’t taken the work very seriously? …. It’s very easy for a client to think that you haven’t taken the work all that seriously when you deliver the text much too early. That’s logical. Who would like to spend a fortune on a translation only to find out that your translator barely spends any time with it? Clients, of course, usually are not aware, and cannot be expected to be, really, that a) you’re the world’s best and fastest translator b) your translation memory did it for you because they’ve send you the exact same text a week before already c) you really didn’t give a **** (though surely that’s not the case, right?).
  2. It raises expectations. Translation deadlines are tight enough. Especially if you’re like me, i.e. you yourself set your deadlines as tight as possible, just so you have to get down to it and don’t waste your time reading the sports news. (There’s just too much interesting stuff on the internet, isn’t there?) So, the only thing you don’t want to do is make your client believe it can be done even faster. But this is exactly the impression you give a client when you send off a translation before the deadline. Their reasoning will be, if he delivered it in a day last time, surely he can do it in a couple of hours, too?

It’s pretty obvious from the above that there is only one good time to send off your translated document: right on the deadline, or just before. Well, let’s say if you want to cause a good impression but avoid the pitfalls described above, as a rule of thumb, you could argue that one hour before the deadline is just right. You’re early, but not too early. And you’re not too late, either.


Yes, but I want to get rid of this now!

OK, so now that we’ve agreed on the time of delivery, there’s only one problem: We don’t want to sit around until the deadline when the work is already done. Let’s say there is nothing else to do for the rest of the day, and we just want to get out of the office, you know, out into the world, or get drunk on some whiskey, or erm, take the girlfriend out for some ice cream (yeah, right…). We could take the document with us on our modern, intelligent phone, but chances are we’ll forget to send it off after a few glasses, or a few cups of ice cream…


Luckily, Microsoft Outlook 2010 has a solution for this (and previous versions might have, too, but I can’t tell as I have never used Outlook before the 2010 version): Delayed Delivery. From the ribbon, under “Home”, when sending off an email, you have the option right there:

delay translation delivery

Make sure your translation is sent off at exactly the right time.

Just click on “Delay Delivery” and then check the box “Do not deliver before”, and set your time. You need to have an active internet connection and leave Outlook open (or minimized) for this to work. You email will stay in your Outbox and it will be sent at the exact time which you specify.


In the series, “Better Translating”, we try to help you set yourself up as a professional translator and be more efficient by using the right software and hardware, and knowing how to use it. Any suggestions? Let us know in the comments.

  1. Sarai said:

    This is definitely a good way of managing expectations. I understand completely that over-delivery can result in you being swamped, particularly when you are working for agencies, whose push is as much as possible as fast as possible. I don’t use Outlook at the moment, but I have to schedule my work manually to make sure that I deliver when I think it is appropriate, not merely as soon as possible. It does help to have other things to do though!!

  2. There are always enough “other things”, aren’t there? For those of you who rely on agencies for jobs, just so you know, if you feel you are being swamped, you can ALWAYS ask for an extension of the deadline. My brother, who works for SDL, for example, routinely sets tight deadlines, just so he can grant extensions, and translators see him as a nice guy! There is always some space.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: