We’ve all been there. Twiddling our thumbs. Staring off into space. Pacing back and forth. This is the dreaded one-minute spin. If you’ve dabbled in molecular biology, you’ve likely encountered this awkward time. Not exactly enough time to actually do anything else, but when you’ve got nothing to do but wait, one minute seems like a REALLY long time.

Here’s a few tricks I have developed over the years to get me through the seemingly eternal one-minute spin.

Organize Your Current Experiment

This consumes the bulk of my one-minute spins. What is the next step in your experiment? Perhaps you need different reagents in a specific order. Line those up in front of you and double check that they are in the correct order. Then I set my pipettes to the right volumes. I grab tubes that I need for the specific experiment and label them. If you’re processing ten samples, the labeling can be quite time consuming!


If you are like me, you get pangs of anxiety when separated from your water bottle. Pop out of the lab to hydrate. Or inhale a snack… you’d never know when something comes up in the middle of your experiment and you end up hangry at the bench.

Catch up on Your Notebook

We’ve all been there when we are weeks behind on our lab notebook. What better than to jot down your work while you are in the midst of doing it? Writing a few sentences here and there during your plasmid prep can certainly keep you from having to spend your weekend trying to remember what you did the entire week.

Plan the Week

Often times, if I don’t plan ahead, I come into lab on a Monday after a weekend off without a clue as to what to do. I end up spending all morning coming up with a weekly plan. Plan for the next week or two during your one-minute spins to save you time.

Search the Literature

We all know how hard it is to stay current with the latest news in our research areas. While waiting for your spins, type some quick keyword searches in PubMed to find the latest news. Or better yet, set up Google Alerts and scan through what arrives in your inbox on your favorite subjects.

While one minute may not seem like much time, think about all the one-minute spins you may have in a day. You could have lost thirty minutes from a whole day just waiting for one-minute spins! Just like a watched pot never boils, a watched centrifuge never stops spinning.

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