Life as a PM

Oh, sorry, that title is probably a shade misleading: PM refers, of course, to Project Manager, rather than Prime Minister. We all know what a Prime Minister does anyway, right? Not much…unlike a Project Manager.

My ears are often pricked when someone talks of their day-to-day toils, be that out of nosiness, out of insecurity – their job’s not better than mine, is it? – or simply out of narcissistic wanton to confirm that my job is the only job worth doing. (Which of course, boss, it is.) And so I find myself detailing a day in my life, for any one of you who is curious as to what I do between replying to your emails.

The day begins at nine, and with a heavy inbox.

Emails range from ‘[insert excuse], I need an extension on my already over generous translation deadline,’ to unsolicited approaches from freelancers, via emails sent a minute after the close of play at 5.31pm asking for 1, 500 words into nine moribund languages…by yesterday.

Responding to all those and carefully deleting the invitations to purchase cheap, but nonetheless good quality, watches, often takes over an hour, and in turn generates more work as a result.

It’s then a case of looking through one’s projects in progress, and prioritising tasks from there. Do I need to find a proofreader for an impending translation arrival? Must I forewarn a typesetter that he simply has to be available to sort an urgent DTP job, just as soon as I have all the necessary files?

All this whilst one’s inbox is being gratuitously peppered with more emails, some of which need attention immediatley, some of which can wait, but it’s not quite that simple.

Imagine a scale of one to a hundred, with each integer being further divided in tenths. The complex algorithm a PM has to run assigns each job, email, phone call and tea request a number, then ranks them in order of importance and, furthermore, each time a new request comes in, said algorithm has to be re-run and the resulting ‘to do’ scale amended accordingly…

At 10.34 am this is how things stand:

Urgent job needs assigning | 93.72
Need a brew | 67.08
Have to help sales team prepare a quote | 46.34
Must invoice a client | 37.03

Then a new email comes in ‘I have lost the file you sent me last week, could you kindly unearth it and resend?’ and the scale is useless and has to be updated in the context of this new request…you get the picture.

Other jobs include searching for new translators, answering project queries (what does this mean? have you any context? should this be translated?), raising invoices and purchase orders and so on.

Lunch time comes at whatever time a lull occurs.

Afternoons are usually less frought and are often given over to keeping up with longer running projects…doing some SEO, writing a press release or blog entry, doing a bit of copy and pasting which is, of course, brain numbing.

The wild range of tasks and projects worked on keeps a PM on their toes, and bullies boredom into submission. On the whole, the job is as dynamic as Gordon Brown isn’t, plus we have a lovely sandwich lady, Mary, come to see us at around 10am every day. Does he?