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New Year’s Resolutions for the Lab

The beginning of a new year is a great chance to make a fresh start in the lab

Here are a few of my resolutions for the upcoming year:

1. I will faithfully update my lab notebook every day.

No more marathon sessions once a month with a handful of post-it notes and a few unlabeled blots, trying to reconstruct what I did all month.

2. I will start writing all manuscripts and/or articles more than one week before the deadline.

Because last-minute writing is bad for my blood pressure.

3. I will read new papers when they come out, instead of putting them in a pile to “get to later”.

4. I will make friends with the post-doc down the hall…because who knows when I may need to borrow a reagent?

5. I will wash my lab coat at least once. And I encourage you all to follow my example.

6. I will not “borrow” food from the conference room (more than once a week).

7. I will not steal the best chair in the lab while everyone else is gone, no matter how much I’m tempted.

8. I will take out the biohazard trash, even if I could still squeeze one more plate into the bag.

9. I will not hoard the yellow post-it notes, because the neon pink ones work just as well.

10. I will read the paper for journal club ahead of time, not as I walk to the conference room.

What lab resolutions have you made for the New Year?


  1. Pathma Muthukotti on April 22, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Yah, of course. I will update my lab notebook regularly. Sounds good…

  2. Sean Scully on February 20, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Nice 2k11 resolutions. This year I *will* resolve all of those pesky racemic mixtures on my bench.

    (Oh my! That was anhydrous. I should should work on my “sense of humor” this year!)

  3. Allison Ross on January 24, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Chen will have his first article published soon on “Mentoring Undergrads”, a topic close to many of your hearts I’m sure –  so look out for it.  Scheduled for Monday 31 January 2011.

  4. Emily Crow on January 10, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    You have a lot of good advice, Chen, thanks for adding to the discussion!

  5. vile on January 4, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    “I will not steal the best chair in the lab while everyone else is gone, no matter how much I’m tempted.”

    How, how do you know? 😀

  6. Chen Guttman on January 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    That’s a good one!
    Some additional things that I found to be very helpful and productive:

    1. Plan experiments ahead – if you want to do a good experiment, you need all the controls you can think of!
    2. Organize your bench – if you want to find things quickly and without doing slalom with your hands when you’re reaching for the buffer solution.
    3. Stop and Think – Once a week take a one hour break and analyze the passing week. What went well? What didnt? and Why?
    4. Remember your goal – Doing a research is like climbing a tall and very branched tree in a fog – you need to remember where are you heading so you won’t find yourself after 4 years on the wrong branch!
    5. Listen – Even if you’re on your fifth grad school year, it’s always good to listen to other grads, even freshman’s – you never know when somebody gonna give you the next big idea to solve your problems.
    6. Backup, Backup and…Backup! – I think there is almost no horrifying moment as realizing you lost your one week/month/year data for good. It’s almost as devastating as realizing somebody published your paper one week ahead of you. Make at least one backup each week, preferably on a university server (which is also regularly backup)
    7. And not least important – Enjoy! – Because, at the end, this is what REALLY counts.

    Happy new year to you all!

  7. Åsa on January 4, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Haha, somehow I feel that almost all of your points can be applied to me 🙂 Great post!

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