The Art of Doing Less, Better

Home / Bidding Quarterly / The Art of Doing Less, Better

When I was at school, teachers graded us on a dual scale of performance (A to E) and effort (1 to 5). Being naturally competitive, my friends and I compared results but with very different goals. Most pupils and teachers assumed A1 was the highest possible combined grade. I disagreed. A1 indicates the highest possible achievement but also the maximum effort. Surely, thought I, A5 is the optimum grade? Top marks, while being efficient, and redirecting energy to bump my Bs to As.

The truth is: I’m lazy. Not the couch-potato kind – I play squash five times a week – but the “work smarter not harder” kind. Why would I admit that to a community of extremely hard working, midnight oil burning, deadline day adrenaline junky bid professionals? Because I’m lazy in a specific and seemingly paradoxical way. I crave exceptional results while detesting wasted or low-value effort. I call it rigorous laziness.

Rigorous laziness is about finding the shortest, fastest, easiest route to achieve your goals, without sacrificing quality. At its heart, it means understanding the value of work and focusing on the biggest return on investment. The rest is ditched, delegated, or digitised.

How can you achieve rigorous laziness? Here are three quick wins to get you started with the minimum of effort:

  1. Embrace the 80/20 Rule
    Also known as the Pareto Principle, it’s a general guideline that roughly 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes. Rigorous laziness means focusing on the 20% of activities that deliver value and ruthlessly eliminating the rest. Take meetings: a huge investment of time and resources for relatively little output value. Conversely, going for a walk or even staring out the window can be incredibly productive if it leads to just one great idea.
  2. Aim for excellence, not flawlessness
    Perfectionism can be my biggest productivity killer. Learn to recognise when ‘good enough’ is good enough. Overthinking and overworking may feel productive but our bid only needs to win the race, not break a world record.
  3. Automate, Delegate, and Elevate
    The rise of AI heralds a new era for the rigorously lazy. With technology as our ally, we free our minds from the compliance matrix of busywork. We can automate repetitive tasks, delegate the mundane to a digital assistant, and elevate our uniquely human genius for strategic, high-impact thinking.

Remember, rigorous laziness is not about slacking off, but about intelligent application of our time and energy to what really matters. I believe this is long overdue in a profession that’s previously idolised overwork. It’s time to stop the relentless drive for more human productivity and fight for more humane productivity. It’s time to love being lazy.

This article was written by Darrell Woodward.

Darrell Woodward is an award-winning consultant helping organisations unleash the full power of proposal automation to win more business faster. As a Bid Geek and coffee lover, he believes technology in bidding is about combining a blend of content beans — compelling narratives, tailored solutions, and persuasive arguments — and the expertise of bidding baristas to craft the perfect proposal brew.

Back to Foreword