2015-01-05 06.51.51

My morning desk with last night’s Post-its.

Another of my goals this time is to blog more continuously. Yesterday I followed a Twitter chat tagged #blogchat and the resounding advice I got was that the more you blog the easier it gets (as everything in life). And a bit like mentioned in my previous post, there are days for deep reflections and there are days for quickies. And today is a quickie day.

The first job I held after my postdoc was with a small biotech company in San Diego. The culture shock took place at many levels, but what affected me most from a practical point of view was the limitation of time to work. There was no way to do labwork during the weekends, and lab data had to be stored and processed in the company computers as well as input in a traditional countersigned lab notebook. Even evening work was discouraged!

At one level that was quite liberating- I could not work from home, so I actually worked Monday to Friday only. On the other hand, I had to be very organized and very efficient- if I blew my early week experiment that was it: a whole week was lost.

Enter the Post-it method.

Fridays became the “scrapbooking day,” e.g. the day when we would work on the lab notebook, analyzing the data, and then printing, cutting out, and glueing the graphs for the coming week’s dreaded lab meeting. That was also the day of preparation for next week’s experiments. I prepared all reagents that I could make in advance, and made detailed lists of fresh reagents I had to make on the spot. I actually calculated the exact volumes or weights I had to use, step by step.

Before leaving on Friday afternoon, I made a set of Post-its with the first tasks for Monday morning. Again, it was quite detailed: put the trypsin in the incubator, take 400 ul of the XYZ stock and add to 600 ul of whatever, turn on the instrument.

Silly as it might have seemed on a Friday afternoon, they were life-savers on Monday mornings after the hiatus of a complete weekend.

I still use Post-its a lot. In the evening, or whenever I am finished for the day with my tasks, I prepare my set of Post-its with specific directions on what to do next morning. It saves me the time of thinking through the tasks.

Do you have any other little tricks that help your productivity? Please share in the comments!