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The Procrastination Gap and How to Avoid It

The procrastination gap is the space between "I should" and "I did".

"I should tackle these items that have been stuck at the bottom of my to-do list, but I just don't have time."

We've all said or thought things like that. It helps us rationalize not doing whatever it is. But the truth is, when you procrastinate, it's because you're lacking one or more of these three things:

  • Purpose: Sometimes we just don't know why we need to do something, or what the outcome of doing it really means

  • Priority: Other times, we put something off because we feel it's not important, or because we don't know whether or not it's important

  • Passion: Maybe it's just not something we're passionate about doing in the first place

Have you ever had a proposal contributor miss an internal deadline?

I have found that when our response team partners miss deadlines, it's because of one or more of those three things I mentioned above.

If you are struggling to get your contributors to participate, or to contribute on time, I recommend reaching out to them individually.

  • Take the time to clarify their purpose in the response process. Providing the proper context for how their ownership makes a difference in the final product is critical in getting their support.

    • Sometimes a contributor doesn't even understand the purpose of a proposal, so know that you may need to also provide context on the purpose of the whole project.

  • Have a conversation about the priority of the project in relation to the other things they have on their plate. If the contributor is struggling to prioritize the project and doesn't have the bandwidth in their schedule to commit to it, it may be time to see if someone else can contribute on their behalf.

  • Obviously, being passionate about something makes it easier to do. I don't know too many contributors that love proposals, but letting them know they're not alone and that they don't need to be a great writer, for example, can help take the pressure off. Their contribution doesn't have to be perfect.

The Risk of Procrastination

Not only is it just annoying to manage as a Proposal Manager, it reduces the likelihood of winning the business.

Your competitors will have spent more time on their proposal than your organization spent on yours. Areas that have been rushed risk not being complete, correct, or compelling because there wasn't time to be creative. Remember that your customer will be evaluating and scoring each section, and some sections are weighted more heavily than others. It just doesn't pay to procrastinate, especially in particularly "valuable" sections.

Procrastination is the assassination of opportunity. - John Maxwell

Leading the Way, Together

It's important to note that as proposal managers, we're supposed to provide leadership at the project level. We're "driving the bus" for that proposal response, and we're supposed to get everybody committed and pumped up for being on that bus with us (and that bus is gonna leave on time, y'all).

However, those responsible for Business Development (executive leaders in Sales and/or Account Management) is supposed to provide leadership at the organizational level around the purpose and the priority of the proposals they choose to respond to. This alignment between Business Development leaders, our response team contributors, and the Proposal Center is the secret to minimizing procrastination and it's associated risks.

This blog entry has been brought to you by the letter P. :)

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