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Why doing nothing is sometimes the best use of my time

May 2, 2016

2008-09-05As I have grown accustomed to the ways and whims of self employment, the enduring challenge that I face is the discipline of NOT bidding for work.

I have my ways of finding out what competitive tenders are out there, and when I first worked for myself I bid for anything and everything.  I’m well qualified and well able to do a wide range of research consultancy projects but through trial and error I found that I was winning certain work and not winning other work.  Over time I worked out where I was most likely to succeed – the methodologies, subject matters, scale and fee, and even the area of the country.  I worked out my niche, and I decided to only bid for work that fell into my niche.

Makes sense.

And it works.  I still win as much work, if not more.

And I’m spending less time writing proposals.

That’s the hard part.

Because some days I might have a pile of six tenders on my desk, and I might discard them all.

I might find myself writing NO proposals.  And I might have nothing else to do if I don’t have any pressing contract work.

It is so so tempting to make myself feel more productive by picking up one of the tenders and writing a proposal.  But it will be a proposal that I won’t win.  So it would be a waste of my time.

Sometimes it is more productive to do nothing.

Sometimes I might as well ditch and do something less boring instead.  Go shopping.  Watch TV.

That’s not lazy, that’s not neglectful of my business.

But do you know how hard that has been to get my head around?  And how much willpower it actually demands to put it into practice?

The value of NOT writing proposals has been a surprisingly hard lesson to learn.

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