French schoolchildren still read the fables of La Fontaine. One of his most famous is the “Ant and the Grasshopper,” which drives home the moral that the ant’s busy industry is rewarded with comfort and a full larder, while the grasshopper, who sits on a blade of grass singing to the sun, cannot provide for himself in the cold winter months.
Productivity is one of the great buzzwords of 2016. In fact, I would rank it in importance with “organizational change,” leadership,” and my most favorite cliché, “innovation.”
With the ant and grasshopper in mind, I would like to provide what I hope will be a humorous list of the 5 habits of highly unproductive proposal professionals. They are the true grasshoppers of our profession, and they should be honored accordingly.
• #1: Follow the 20/80 rule. They say that only 20 percent of what you do every day produces an astonishingly 80 percent of your total results. If this is true, there is a terrible imbalance. Eliminate the many things that really matter in your proposal workday and focus on spending 80 percent of your time producing 20 percent of your results.
• #2: Significantly increase your to-do list. Don’t take a less-is-more approach to doing a proposal. Instead, embrace the opposite – extend your to-do list to at least 30 tasks a day and you will be surprised at how few of them you actually accomplish.
• #3: Use your morning – and afternoon – to focus on yourself. Teamwork is overrated and productivity is hard to measure. Begin early in the day to focus on yourself (a good breakfast, a good workout, answering personal emails, paying overdue bills, eBay, the Home Shopping Network) and continue unabated throughout the day.
• #4: Excel in multitasking. Anyone can do one simple task at a time well. Instead, try doing 10 important tasks at once. You will be pleasantly surprised and how ineffective and inefficient you can quickly become.
• #5: Stop invidiously contrasting productivity with laziness. While we all know that laziness is probably the #1 contributor to low productivity, let’s admit it: the grasshopper was right. It is far more enjoyable to be lazy than to be productive, as long as you can craftily mask the consequences. Hint: frequent meetings, the development and constant revision of Integrated Management Schedules, and never-ending email correspondence with ample cc: are great ways to avoid doing real work on proposals.
I am confident that you can add other items to this list, probably from your own deep experience as a proposal professional. At this time of the year, let’s make America more productive again.