Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Post-grant wind-down


That was me relaxing. I'm drinking a nice cuppa tea and everything.

Due to technical problems with the funding body's website, last week's grant deadline got pushed back to today. This was a good thing, because it allowed us to spend much more time tweaking and revising the application, but it was also a bad thing, because it allowed us to spend much more time tweaking and revising the application. It's funny how these things expand to fill the time allotted to them. I sent the grant to our institute's coordinator for his sign-off last night, and the damn thing is officially submitted and off my desk as of this morning.

Believe it or not, I actually quite enjoy the rush - as long as I'm confident that we'll actually get things done in time - and at least the work is interesting and useful. My last job managed to be both stressful and boring (lots of repetitive work with very tight deadlines), and when I took this job I made a mental note to remember how horrid that combination was during the inevitable stressful times ahead.

This job being a constant cycle between super-busy and more laid-back, today is wind-down time. In my usual tradition, I have spent the day:
  • Attending a very interesting seminar (I tend to skip them when deadlines strike, and missed some good ones this month)
  • Tidying my desk, although Mermaid will still be able to recognise it as mine without checking the photos and tea mugs
  • Printing hard copies of all final grant sections, and filing them away
  • Printing and archiving all of my early drafts / edits of each section (I like to give it a week or two and then compare my versions to the final ones approved by the grant's authors - it's a good learning experience to see what they decided to keep / edit / rewrite / scrap entirely. This time around there's a pretty good mix of the four options, with one section completely unchanged from my first draft!)
  • Organising and archiving my email inbox
  • Having lunch with the whole lab for the first time (fun! And yummy! So full!)
Things still to do:
  • Meet a friend from my old job for a quick beer after work
  • Go home and play with the kitties
  • Get through the night without thinking or dreaming about the bloody grant
The whole cycle starts again next week with a meeting involving the two PIs of a potential new grant submission. And my boss wants to see all the information I have on a huge project that isn't coming along as well as we'd both like, due to the big grant time-suck. But it's nice to have just one day to organise my desk, my files, and my thoughts.


  1. Yay for getting past the deadline, and a day to organize thoughts!

    I usually don't know if my deadline getting extended is good (have time to make my work better) or bad (already burned out! can't continue like this!).

    Oh, and I hope you didn't dream about your bloody grant (I probably would have). Do you think I would get funny looks if I started using bloody in conversations? ;)

  2. Thanks both! A deadline extension is definitely both a blessing and a curse. No grant dreams last night! It was nice for a change.

    SG, I think you should definitely use bloody, bloody hell, and sodding (as in I'm sick of this sodding grant) whenever possible. They are fine phrases with a proud history.

  3. Heh, I have to say that as an American, when you talk about a "bloody grant" I totally imagine a proposal with blood all over it. You know from all the blood, sweat and tears you poured into the damn thing!

  4. Hah! Well, that too. I told you it was a fine phrase, with double meanings no less.

    I guess you're not one of the people who "hear" blog posts in the presumed accent of the writer then! (I'm not either, I hear everything in my own accent). Otherwise I'm guessing that the meaning of "bloody grant" would have been more than clear in an English accent!

  5. Congrats for getting that grant out! Whew...just thinking about your grant deadlines is making me tired. :-)

    "It's funny how these things expand to fill the time allotted to them."

    It's so true--some people I know deliberately do not start working on grants till a set period of time before the deadline so they don't end up spending huge amounts of time writing and rewriting it!

  6. Sounds like some people I work with! (If by "set period of time before the deadline" you mean "one week").

    Only kidding, they're not that bad. But everything always comes down to a rush.


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