Burnout in the proposal writing industry is a very real threat to our industry. Often, proposals are pushed to the margins by internal teams, which can devolve into writing late into the night and over the weekends to hit deadlines. Once or twice, sure, we roll with the punches. But when the exception becomes the rule and every submission is an emergency, you run the risk of burning out your proposal team. Here are our 5 tips for avoiding burnout:
Map out your RFP deadlines well in advance. Make note of all vacation time scheduled for not only your writers but the subject matter experts they’re relying on. Note any bottlenecks or overlapping deadlines and make sure you have the resources to meet the demand. If the workload exceeds your capacity, talk to your team about adjusting one of your proposal schedules to lessen the overlap. If that’s not possible, consider letting an RFP go. It’s better to write 3 great proposals than 4 mediocre ones because you’re spread too thin.
Rest is essential for health, well-being, creativity, and attention to detail. Ever had your best idea while walking the dog or taking a shower? Schedule rest periods like it’s a commitment to a client or a colleague. Put it in your calendar if you have to. Your rested brain will catch errors and solve problems your tired brain won’t.
Establish (and maintain) boundaries
This one is uncomfortable but important. Setting healthy boundaries around office hours, workload, and access to your resources is essential for long term success in proposal writing. It’s tempting to be the hero who swoops in to save the day at the 11th hour but, ultimately, it is detrimental to the proposal and the team to lack consistent boundaries. Respect your colleagues’ boundaries and enforce your own. You’ll be happier, healthier, more collaborative, and more creative.
Polish your processes
Creating really great processes that genuinely work for you and your team will help you prep submissions faster, smoother, and with less brain power. Reinventing processes is exhausting. Develop a process, fine-tune it as you learn, and hone it into a tool that makes your life easier and your collaborators’ lives easier so you can focus on quality and value – not just keeping your head above water.
Be kind to yourself
Remember, above all, to be kind to yourself. Sometimes you’ll do everything right and still feel exhausted. That’s ok. We’re all just doing our best.