I spent my three-day weekend writing an 80-page federal grant. The hardest part? Creating an outline of what I was going to write.

We had been talking about this project for weeks and I had input from numerous collaborators on what content should be included. The government provides a proposal outline of course, but my challenge was synthesizing all the ideas into a cohesive outline to follow when writing. It took four sheets of flip chart paper with two columns each and a full day to compile but in the end, it made the writing process so much easier.

By outlining, I don’t mean a rigid sequence or the use of Roman numerals, rather a bullet list of points to make in the anticipated or approximate order. It becomes liberating instead of restrictive.

When faced with a large project, it’s often tempting to jump right in. That may work for some people, but my time is better spent investing in the front end. Once you have an outline, it’s like punching in the GPS coordinates to your destination – much faster to follow a route than to get lost on the way.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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