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Make Fewer Mistakes In Your Lab

– Contributed content –

Lab work


3 Oct. 2018. No matter what area of science you work in, accuracy is key. If you are slapdash within your experiments, or if there are issues with your equipment, you aren’t going to get the right results. Your studies will become invalid, and there may be other consequences down the line if protocol hasn’t been followed correctly.

To avoid making mistakes, you should adhere to the following.

Start your day with a clear mind. Have a healthy breakfast, engage in some simple exercise, and then arrive at the lab at optimum ability to get on with the work at hand. You need to focus, as a tired mind is only going to leave you prone to making mistakes.

Create a checklist. To ensure you do everything in the right order, create a checklist to focus your mind on what you need to do.Otherwise, you may slip up along the way, and be forced into starting whatever you are doing again.

Ensure your equipment is functioning correctly. Faulty equipment may factor into inaccurate results, so check what you are using beforehand. There will be times when you are better off buying something new, rather than risking bad results with something faulty, and remembering to outsource to firms such as this pipette calibration service ahead of time will help you avoid equipment problems before they arise.

Bookmark your process. When engaged in repetitive activities, such as pipetting into a large rack of tubes, it can be easy for your mind to wander. If you’re not careful, you will lose progress and feel forced to begin the process again. By bookmarking your progress, such as placing visible markers within your experiment, you will make life easier for yourself.

Take a break. You need to take breaks throughout the day to give you time to refocus. Particularly when engaged in close-up work, your eyes will need the break, as will your mind should it become tired or full. Get some fresh air, have something to eat, and then return to your lab when your eyes and mind feel rested.

Try and avoid multitasking. There will be times when this is unavoidable, but if you aren’t careful, you may make a mistake when doing too much within a limited time frame. Instead, try and delegate some of your responsibilities to another lab technician, and for more time-intensive activities that take you away from your work, remember to outsource, as that will give you more time to focus your mind on what you need to be doing.

Avoid distractions. You need to concentrate, so if any distractions can be avoided, put procedures in place. This includes turning your phone off, putting a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door, and finding ways to curb those distractions that you might create for yourself.

Learn from your mistakes. If you do make a mistake, then so be it. It happens, your human, and provided you haven’t blown up the science lab, you should be okay. However, you owe it to yourself to work out what happened and why, and then learn from any lessons learned for future experiments.

By adhering to all of these tips, you stand a greater chance of getting the results you need, without any mistakes getting in the way. Let us know if you have any further tips, perhaps with techniques you have used to eliminate error-making.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this post are the contributor’s and not those of Science & Enterprise.

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