The simplest way to stop proposal writing procrastination

Why do we always wait until the last minute to complete a proposal?


This was a question I really wanted to answer but was not sure where to start. I guess if I honestly thought about it, I would need to take a deeper look into what makes people procrastinate in the first place. Some of the common reasons are:

  • Competing priorities
  • The illusion of more time
  • Perceived benefits or detriments
  • Perfectionism

Contrary to some people’s beliefs, we as humans have a horrible relationship with time. Since proposal writing is an extremely time intensive task, we wait until we run out of time to finish it; which ultimately forces us to rush. Government proposal by nature have specified deadlines and they require precise and decisive actions.


Procrastination affects our proposals. For one it drives hasty decision making which can make or break your final proposal product. It impacts responsiveness and compliance. Errors seem to run as a major theme throughout the proposal document. And lastly, it becomes a futile exercise in just “checking the boxes” and not a substantive solutions-based response.


So how do we mitigate proposal writing procrastination early on? Well based on my research, there are several things you can do to address procrastination during your writing period:

Shorten the gap between your efforts and your rewards.

Create a Proposal Outline that lays out your requirements and tasks in detail, so that you know what you have to do and how you need to allocate the proper resources early in the process to be responsive. You should also be allocated deadline dates to keep your tasks moving.

Reduce Choices

You can do this by creating a very specific Bid/No Bid Matrix with a scoring component. If you keep your BNB Matrix to 10 quantifiable questions, you are able to make decisions quickly. And when it comes to your pursuits focus on those opportunities where you have a higher likelihood of winning.

Evaluate the risks

Evaluate the risks. You should set realistic expectations when pursuing a potential proposal opportunity. This would include areas such as the customer intelligence (how much information do we have to put in a compelling bid), proposal writing resources (do we have a writer available, teaming partners, templates and time) and company capacity to manage the effort.

We all know that procrastination, especially when it comes to proposal responses are inevitable, but planning is one of the strongest keys to combatting this issue. Don’t just plan for planning sake. Create some visual images of your plan, record them using online tools and make them real with due dates. Hold yourself accountable in the event you don’t make deadlines; you can re-prioritize or remove them from your list altogether. Remember the goal is to make the planning steps real and actionable. Lastly, create a non-distraction zone or a definitive place in time where you can get through a few things on your task list without any distractions.

If you want to learn how my team and I use online tools to help us dodge procrastination and reduce our proposal writing by 40%, join our next webinar where I’ll be discussing tools to streamline your proposal writing process. The webcast will be on October 12, 2017. I’ve also set aside time to answer your questions and if you join you’ll get a toolkit with video resources and templates. Spoiler alert: an updated version of the bid matrix is inside of the toolkit ;-).

Hope to see you there! You can reserve your spot here:

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