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15. Rewards for doing the work you agreed to do January 24, 2010

Posted by Lisa in All, Motivation.
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So I’m in grant reviewing hell.  Preparing for that meeting on the left.   I could do a quick crappy job, or do the right thing.  Perhaps, unfortunately for my weekend, I tend to do the right thing.

I’ve written grants myself, and I know how hard it is to develop a good plan, good hypotheses, and then explain exactly what you’re going to do if you get the money.  It’s not like the government hands over $3M for a fishing expedition – a research term for “we’re gonna look at a lot of different stuff that we haven’t identified yet and hope we figure out something useful.”  Those types of proposals don’t (usually) make it too far.

Other proposals are a joy to read!  Heavy scientific terms broken down into descriptive language that can teach a non-expert while simultaneously describing the work.  Flow is logical, the ideas are neat.  And if the grant writers do their jobs well, I can get really excited about the proposed project!  Clarity + readability + neat project = GOOD SCORE = $$$$$$.

You’d think they’d figure that out.

Good grant proposals vs. bad grant proposals

And then there are those train wrecks where you’d just like to say, “Hey – this ain’t gonna make it.  Why do I have to spend the time writing a formal review?”

(My grant submission-award rate is 100%.  I pre-review grants for researchers to help them get that clarity-readability thing right.  I’m for hire – believe me, as a reviewer, I know what the agencies want to see.)

Legitimate research fishing expedition!

Anyway, I slogged through one of those train wrecks yesterday and I wanted to shoot myself to put myself out of my own self-imposed misery.  It was meandering, used vague terms that were defined differently throughout the grant, didn’t really describe exactly what they proposed to do, and gave me a headache.

In other words, one of those fishing-expedition thingies.  A bowl of ice cream worked a little, but it was a big push to get the review written before bedtime.  Gaaaaak.

Next week I’m taking a trip to see my parents and my brother’s family, and I wanted to get all these grants reviewed before I left. Which is why on a Sunday morning I’m At Work.  I woke up knowing the day would be a slog of hopefully 2 complete reviews.  But the first is the best one so far!  Whew – please oh Powers That Be, let the rest be so pleasantly constructed (I have 4 more to go after this one).

I’m just gonna die today

It’s a dreary Sunday in the chilly northeast – days that make you yearn for a roaring fire, a couple good DVDs and the Godiva hot chocolate Mom sent.  And a big pot of Mom’s Beef and Vegetable Stew.  Ahhhh.

So I made my husband a deal – if he goes to the store to get the ingredients (try to explain “stew beef” to a man (sorry, “non-cook”), I’ll make the stew.  It’s an all-day thing, and since I’m clearly going nowhere today, bopping back and forth between the kitchen and the computer accomplishes the following:

1) Forces me to get up and take little breaks.

2) Gives me some cooking therapy (yes, some of us like cooking good stuff on the weekends).

3) Allows me to EAT a great stew as a reward for all my brain strain today.

(Don’t have to ask a man twice about home-cooked stew on a crappy day – he’s at the store now.)  🙂

Compass Point – Breaking pain into smaller chunks. Visualizing all the pain you need to overcome before a vacation can be morally defeating.  Instead, take it day by day with a reward – ideally one that lasts longer than a big bowl of ice cream.   (Oh, and sorry for the “smaller chunks” cooking pun.)

15 down, 345 to go.

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