Sanity-Saving Tip for Grant Seekers in a Hurry

You are asked to complete a grant application due tomorrow at five p.m.

"You can do it, can't you?" asks your boss.

You plan: "Okay, this morning, I'll work on the cover page and attachments.... this afternoon, the first three questions of the narrative section. Tomorrow morning, I'll do the next three, tomorrow afternoon, the last three..."

Wait. Stop. That plan might work this time, but sooner or later, you'll be working on yet another last-minute grant application, fall behind your own schedule, and find yourself re-designing the last part of your plan. The revised part will look something like this:

  • 4:30 - 4:40, answer questions 6 and 7;
  • 4:40 - 4:50, answer questions 8 and 9,
  • 4:50 to 4:55, answer question 10,
  • 4:55 - 4:57, proofread application
  • 4:58 - upload attachments
  • 4:59 - send.

Here's a better approach: The next time you have two days to complete a grant application, try to finish a first draft of the entire application on Day One. On Day Two, you can further develop your answers, proof read the application, etc.

There are two advantages to this approach. First,  if some unforeseen problem develops on the due date (e.g. you can't get online, your saved application wasn't saved), you have time to deal with it. Second, unlike your first plan, this approach leaves time for you to better develop any "skimpy" responses to application questions. This means you are more likely to end up with an application you are proud to submit instead of an application with responses that devolve from informational (first question) to unintelligible (last question).