Before you pour that tumbler of vodka and congratulate yourself on submitting your application one minute before the deadline (c'mon, we've all done it): take 10 minutes to write a few things down.
Okay, fine. You can drink the vodka while you write.
The things I want you to write down are things that might make your next application go a little better, possibly even precluding the need for a tumbler of vodka after you submit! I know, I know. Sounds impossible. But you never know.
So open up a new file, call it Things To Tweak for Next Grant, and set a reminder in your calendar to review the list eight weeks before your next grant deadline.
This list is meant to focus on PROCESS - what you can tweak next time so everything goes more smoothly. But there's no reason you couldn't also make notes on PRODUCT - were there sections of the grant that didn't turn out as you'd hoped? What needs more thinking through? Use this list as a brain dump for whatever you like...but use it.
Here's what you should include in this list:
- What went really well?
- What didn't go well?
- What would I do differently next time?
- What would I do again next time?
- What did I not do this time that I definitely need to do next time?
- Who was helpful?
- Who wasn't helpful?
- How stressful was that process on a scale of 1 to 10?
- How could I make it less stressful next time?
- Who needs to be involved next time, and when?
That's it! Ten minutes and you're done. It may seem super obvious to you right now, but it's amazing how quickly those lessons dissipate. Writing them down and taking a look before you start your next application can make a big difference.
What else would you include on the tweak list? Let me know in the comments!