Don't you find that the summer passes more quickly than the rest of the year? Maybe it's because it's such precious time to recharge, to enjoy being outdoors, and to slow the pace for a while. Because it's such an important time to rest and relax, it's easy to be caught off guard when late August rolls around and the new academic year is winding up to punch you in the face.
In my experience, the fall grant cycle is the hardest. Most folks have geared down for the summer months, and by the time they recover from the chaos of the beginning of the academic year, there are only a few precious weeks left before the grant deadline. Everything is more stressful.
I'm sure the last thing you want to be doing right now is thinking about September, but I promise you that taking a few small steps right now will help make the fall grant cycle go much more smoothly.
Here are five easy steps you can take this summer to prepare for the fall grant cycle:
1. Prepare your co-investigators and collaborators
This one is super easy. All you have to do is give your collaborators a heads-up that you're planning to submit in the fall cycle and let them know what is expected of them (biosketch, letter of support, etc.). You don't even need to give them a deadline (yet!).
2. Create a rough grant writing project plan
Work backwards from the grant deadline and allocate time to each of the grant sections that you need to write. Go week-by-week if you like, and give each week a theme.
3. Update your (C)CV
[Pro tip: make a habit of updating your CV every time you complete a CV-worthy activity, like publishing an article, presenting at a conference, getting a grant, or sitting on a committee. It saves you from having to remember everything if you're used to doing an annual update]. Take a few moments to make sure that your CV is up-to-date. If you use the Canadian Common CV (UGH), hold your nose and do whatever tinkering needs to be done so you're not dealing with it in September.
4. Get budget estimates
Create a budget outline using major categories (Personnel, Equipment, Travel, etc.) and get any estimates you'll need for big-budget items so that you can include them in the budget justification.
5. Seek out internal reviewers and figure out deadlines
Many institutions offer (possibly require) internal reviews for major grant competitions. If you plan to take advantage of this service, make sure you know when the submission deadlines are for internal review, and prepare accordingly (see tip #2). If your institution doesn't offer internal review, or if you want support on aspects of the grant that aren't typically covered in internal review processes (like clear, compelling writing), make sure you line up your own internal review by reaching out to a couple of trusted colleagues or to a consultant or editor (Hint hint! Check out the strategic review & editing services I offer).
That's it! So easy. If you implement even one of these tips over the next couple of months, you'll be in a much better position when September rolls around (and punches you in the face).