A Headless Chicken and Tiny Purple Elephants

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During my research into ‘Old Father Time’, I discovered that not only is he personified as time itself, but also depicted as an old, bearded man who hands over time to the New Year on New Year’s Eve.

It got me thinking about how time management and time boundaries have changed over the last year, as well as how I am now handing over many time-consuming activities to staff – the ‘New Year’ as it were. So much change in the last year has literally had me on the edge of my seat, gasping for breath. Let us go back….

People invasion:

In March 2020, Lockdown 1.0 started, forcing people back into their homes to work, or into furlough, as happened to many in the bidding community. Having worked from home myself for many years, I understood the issues people were facing in terms of time management – the lines between work and home time became blurred. It was different for me. I actually felt invaded. Where I used to have the odd conference call and was pretty much left alone to get on with my work, all of a sudden I was in back-to-back Teams/Zoom calls all day. This left me little time to concentrate and get the writing done, forcing me to work out of hours when things were quiet.

Headless chicken:

Things continued to go bananas over the following months – many of my clients were forced to stay at home and contemplate the future of their businesses. This prompted a flurry of phone calls, and as highways procurement kept momentum (although some dates were delayed), it meant I was kept extremely busy. I was so hectic in fact that by the end of the summer I seemed to be working seven-day weeks without a break. After all, there was nothing much else to do so I just carried on. This soon took its toll, as I am sure you can imagine, although I was of course extremely grateful for the money coming in to pay the bills.

“All by myseeeelf, don’t wanna be…”:

Towards the end of the summer, I started to have some very serious thoughts about taking on another Bid Writer. I had a minor panic – I knew several large framework bids were due in the autumn which I would not be able to manage on my own, even working seven days a week. Much counsel was sought from friends, family and colleagues, including BQ’s very own Martin Smith, and I finally made the momentous decision to recruit someone into the Pipster fold.

Finding ‘The One’:

The first thing I learnt is that recruitment is another time-consuming process! Working out terms, writing the advert, handling the enquiries, a second stage writing task to devise and review and finally, conducting interviews and a final decision. This is where I came off the rails a little as I found my Bid Writer in Hannah, but also decided I could not let Katie escape when she was so intent on a bidding career path. I also had an old colleague, Jo, who asked to be considered! And so it happened rather quickly. Hannah and Katie came on board in November 2020 and Jo had to wait in the wings until this spring 2021.

A different kind of frazzled:

Of course, having staff does not solve time issues; in fact, it adds complications. Suddenly my time was not my own – there are actual people to manage too! Throw into the mix some bad decisions regarding additional freelancing help, schools being shut and a client hopping on eight days before a massive framework bid is due, throwing massive documents at me saying, “Read this – we need to get some of this stuff in”, and I became a gibbering wreck! Thankfully, that bid was completed and submitted on time. Jo is finally on board and taking much of the time-consuming administration and coordination off my hands, and Hannah and Katie are embedded and delivering superb submissions for Pipster clients.

Tiny purple elephants:

This run of madness demonstrated I need to change in this new era, learn how to actually run a business and handle my time differently. I have invested in personal sessions with mentor and coach, Jackie Jenks. As a mentor myself and lead of APMP UK’s Rapport Mentoring programme, I know the benefits of having that outside influence to enable personal growth. Jackie is making a huge difference to how I look at management of my time; now work life is very, very different. This learning process involves tiny purple elephants – who knew?

#TeamPipster Rah Rah Rah:

Those who know me may recall I always swore I would never take on staff, but here we are, 12 months on and I have three. I have been forced to rethink time management and learn to delegate time-consuming tasks, considering individual, team and business, as well as clients. Time is most definitely not my own anymore and I have had to shift and readjust to make it work for everyone. A different mindset and a range of new processes are proving to be essential, and it is already paying off.  #TeamPipster is flying, and the future is looking extremely inviting. For now, in the interests of self-care and time to breathe, I am off to book a spa day before the next challenge…. Bliss…

This article was written by Pippa Birch.

Pippa has been a Bid Writer for over fifteen years, working as an employee for major companies within the Highways and Civil Engineering Sector for the first ten. She started freelancing in 2012 which led her to write for companies across a variety of sectors (construction, facilities management, custody and forensics).

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