No matter how efficient you are, it’s always possible to improve your productivity and improving your productivity means that you get more of the rewards you are trying to obtain: results, publications… or dare I say it, money.
Here are 20 ways to improve your productivity. Some are focussed toward improving the productivity of bench research, but most are applicable in many other jobs. This list is based on much longer general list that can be found at Steve Pavlina’s excellent personal development website.
1. Set daily goals to allow you to focus on the challenges ahead.
2. Do your worst task first. This is a real procrastination-buster that gives you a sense of achievement and sets the tone for a productive day.
3. Set-up the materials for your first task of the day the night before. Get off to a flying start in the morning.
4. Timebox an unpleasant task. Tackle an unpleasant task by allocating it 30 minutes per day until it’s done.
5. De-clutter your bench and desktop to reduce stress and help keep your mind focused on the job.
6. Journal your experiments, results and thoughts. Preferably using an electronic journal, so you will never lose an idea.
7. Administer your data like a professional so you will never lose a piece of data. See how to keep your data organized.
8. Streamline experiments you do often. Make up huge batches of stock solutions, create tick-off forms to fill in instead of making a fresh lab book entry every time.
9. Keep a roladex of stock solution recipes, mini-protocols etc., on your bench.
10. Time all of your tasks for a day or week to learn about your real time usage.
11. Estimate how long a procedure will take and try to beat that time
12.Tack a task you’d like to habitualize onto part of your daily routine. Read a research paper with your morning coffee, de-clutter your bench after lunch.
13. Quit anything that takes up more of your time than it’s worth: clubs, RSS feeds, mini-projects, meetings.
14. Model your environment to get results. Delete bookmarks to junk sites that suck up your time. Keep text-books and research papers on your desk and bench.
15. Fill in the gaps. Read a research paper during centrifugation steps.
16. Use software tools that will make your life easier. See our software articles.
17. Stay inspired. Read books and articles and attend seminars to be constantly exposed to inspiring new ideas.
18. Take time out every day to let your thoughts wander over your work. See time to think.
19. Spend most of your working day at the bench. That’s where you are going to generate results.
20. Exercise daily to boost your body and mind. 20-30 minutes per day will do it!
If you have any other suggestions for increasing productivity, please leave a comment below!
Originally published 6 December 2007. Updated and republished 17 December 2014.