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Organization & Productivity

Having a Family in Grad School

The question that many graduate students have is “can I have it all?” A successful, productive PhD and marriage? And kids too? There is no doubt that having a family in grad school takes away your focus for a while especially around the time your baby is born, but it can also increase your productivity.…

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How to Cope With Overwhelm in the Lab: Taming Your Inbox

Look around you in your lab, your institution, and even in the world in general and you’ll see how much we all gravitate towards stress and overwhelm. Stress is just the workplace norm. Overwhelm means you are working “hard enough”. Being so occupied that you are frantically buzzing around from one task to another means…

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Prioritize Your Way to Success: a 4-Step Guide

So you just got out of your adviser’s office, feeling inspired, you get to your desk and look at the 27 new things added to your never-ending to-do list. You may feel overwhelmed, like you will never get all of this done; and that is true, you never will. The question is how do you…

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Five Tips to Increase Your Lab Efficiency

Starting a PhD program is both an exciting time as well and a challenging one… One of the main things that keeps most PhD students up nights, is rethinking their steps in the lab during the day.  Did I do that one thing I may not have? Is that one reagent back in the fridge?…

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How to Effectively Organize a Research Lab

An academic lab is a unique working environment. Lab members are expected to take responsibility for their own research projects and perform the work quickly and efficiently. However, unlike an industrial or corporate setting, there are often no clearly defined management structures. This means that when it comes to communal equipment, reagents and resources, individual…

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Top Tips to Keeping Your Logbook in Shipshape

Unless you are one of those rare breeds that do organization naturally, setting a system in place to archive your experiments takes practice and perseverance. It’s hard to imagine when you are doing an experiment for the 100th time that you will ever forget how to do it; but a year down the line, when…

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How to Increase Your Productivity in the Lab

Lab work, as we are all aware, comes with many pressures: one of which is productivity. You want to generate as much quality data as possible to meet publication deadlines or perhaps the elusive thesis. Sometimes it may feel like hours spent in the lab don’t match the amount of data produced: for some this…

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Expert Tips on Managing Your Data

After ten years of postdoctoral research there is one important piece of advice I would give to anyone embarking on a research career: Spend as much time managing your data as you do generating it Take time at the beginning of each project to organize how you will record what you are doing day-to-day. The…

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Seven Tips for Working From Home Successfully

You are a scientist. You run experiments in the lab, but also spend a lot of time analyzing data, writing, doing literature searches, writing, reading and did I say writing? The good news: You can do some of your work from home. The bad news: You can do some of your work from home. Working…

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Surviving Lab Life After Having Kids

  Having kids changes your life.  I should know, I have 5 little F1’s running around. Your life is thrown into chaos the minute you hear that first cry.  And it isn’t only your personal life that changes.  Eventually you have to figure out how to fold your new parenting responsibilities into your lab life.…

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20 Ways to Increase your Productivity

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…

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Making The Most Out Of Your Commute To The Lab

Power nap anyone? Depending on how long your commute is, and what type of transport you use, you could make your commute useful. If you are taking public transport, you can use that time to answer those emails you don’t have time to get to at the office/lab, or to catch up on reading some…

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How to Stay Organized in the Lab

Over the years, I have noticed that laboratory environments are just as fragile and sensitive as the experiments performed within. If permitted, the lab can deteriorate into a chaotic mess within only a few days. That is why it is crucial to establish an organizational system in the lab. Here are a few of my…

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