5 Essential Lab Hacks Every Scientist Should Know

5 Essential Lab Hacks Every Scientist Should Know

5 Essential Lab Hacks Every Scientist Should Know

Posted on the 7th of May 2024 by Westlab

New to lab work? These top 5 hacks will make your life a lot easier.

If you’re reading this, doubtless you’ve done many hours of lab work. Still, you mightn’t have come across these tips and tricks which are proven to make your life easier in the lab. Especially if you’re spending a lot of your time in the lab, and not in front of a computer.

Let’s start with the basics.

1. Your notebook is your best friend

Write. Everything. Down. It is the number one rule, especially if you’re in a technical or assistant role. Not sure if you were meant to write that part down? Do it anyway. It is any scientist’s nightmare to have missed critical data or steps that should have been noted. It is also a good habit to get into and a fundamental principle of science – keep a record, and a thorough one. If you develop this habit early on in your lab career, it will be a very useful skill to have once later in life.  

2. MS Excel treasure map

Science labs are like your inbox. If you let it run away from you, it quickly gets cluttered and disorganised. Sample and reagent storage is one of those things that can get confusing and hard to keep track of. To this point – if it isn’t labelled, treat it like poison. It may not be yours, and you don’t know what it contains. Back to the point. If you’re finding your sample storage hard to manage, consider opening an Excel book (and maybe even sharing it with the team), using the cells to map out your storage location, be it in the fridge, prep room or even dangerous goods cabinet system. This is a great way to keep a record of where your items are!

3. The all-useful binder clip

Remember Microsoft’s cheesy assistant Clippy? Actually, Clippy’s cousin the binder clip offers a few pretty darn good hacks.

Pipettor holders. If you don’t have a proper rack, simply sticking a binder clip onto the shelf or bench in front of you and pulling the wire ‘handles’ towards you creates a little holder for your pipettor! Genius. 
Task wipes holder. Grab a razor and slice a 5cm slit in the back of the wipes. Use a binder clip to attach the wipes to your shelf or bench through the slit. This way, when you grab a wipe, the box doesn’t come with it! I know, right?

4. Reusable checklists

Sick of printing out checklist after checklist, just to dispose of them once you have finished? By simply printing out a checklist once and for all and putting a plastic sleeve over the paper, you make it reusable. As you complete each step, tick it off with a whiteboard marker. Having these checklists ensure that your lab work is consistent, following a structured framework of step-by-step instructions, leading to more reliable and reproducible results. This is a cheap yet highly effective way of enforcing a culture of continuous improvement and excellence.  

5. Parafilm cutter

No scissors? No worries. A simple piece of double-sided tape is the answer to your parafilm-cutting nightmares. Place a section of double-sided tape on the edge of a shelf or bench in your lab. Stick the parafilm to the top of the tape and tear the film on the edge of the shelf or bench. This a simple yet highly effective way of cutting your parafilm without fumbling around for scissors. 

2024-05-07 02:14:00
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