An organized lab is a more pleasant place to work. In addition to this, an organized laboratory can save everyone a lot of time. It will be so much easier for everyone to find the equipment that they need. Those who have had to spend more than a few minutes searching for pipettes, for example, will know that the time could have been spent on other tasks.
Below, you will find a few tips that can help you to keep your lab more organized.
Have an Inventory System
If your lab is disorganized chances are that you may not know what you have in stock. You won’t know when equipment needs to be repaired or replaced. Keeping an inventory is relatively easy and it can help to prevent your equipment from getting lost. The SciNote ELN – electronic lab notebook and other software solutions can help. When you have a list of your inventory you’ll know exactly what you have in stock and what you need to order.
Use Separate Stations
Using separate stations to lay out everything that you need can help you to stay more organized. Lay out the weighing dishes, boats, and lab scoops so that you can measure out chemicals whenever you need to. If the task that you’re working on contains multiple steps. Lay out your equipment as you’ll need it and place it in such a way that you can work from left to right.
Make Use of Vertical Space
Are you making enough use of your lab’s vertical space? The vertical space in your lab can be used to your advantage. There may be areas under a bench or a table that isn’t been used for storage. As long as you don’t sit at the bench or table, the space could be ideal. In addition to this, putting up shelves will give you extra storage space.
If you give yourself more space for storage, make sure that you keep it organized. Space such as this can be very useful but only if you use it wisely. Label any boxes that you stack on your shelves so you can clearly see what belongs there.
Organize your Work Bench
When you have an organized work bench, you are less likely to make mistakes. Frequent cleaning and organizing of your bench can make a huge difference. You could, for example:
- Store all tools and pipettes on your left or right side so they’re in easy reach
- Store all of your common solutions on the opposite side
- Place solutions and devices that you use less often on your upper shelves
- Place your lab book away from the sites of possible spillages
- Store your own marker pen, wipes, paraffin, labeling tape, and scissors on your desk so you can always find them
- Use open healthcare datasets to simplify diagnostics and fasten the selection of treatment.
Make sure that you regularly clean your work bench and take stock of your equipment. Knowing what you have and what you need can help you to work more efficiently.
Organize Your Lab Book
Ideally, your lab book will be laid out clearly so you can find any information that you need. You may want to think about:
- Leave a few pages at the start of your lab book blank and use them as a table of contents. Number all of the pages in your lab book and update the table of contents whenever you add something new.
- Whenever you make an entry in your lab book, note the following: date, title, objective or hypothesis, methods and materials, analysis, and experimental observations. You are likely to find this information very helpful
- Add dates to every page so you can refer back to the page in question, should you need to
- When you come across an error, draw a single line through the mistake. Add your initials and date to any mistake and add a little explanation as to what occurred. This can help to prevent confusion at a later date should you need to re-read your work
Keep Surplus Stock to a Minimum
If you tend to place a lot of redundant orders, you may have a lot of unwanted stock. Equipment that does not need to be used can take up a lot of space. Make sure that you only ever purchase stock when the reagents you need have fallen below a specific level. Be sure to order in plenty of time so that you’re not kept waiting for anything.
You’ll also need to make it clear that you’ve placed an order. Initial and date your order so people you work with know the stock is on its way. If you don’t make it clear that you’ve ordered anything, duplicate orders could be made.
Schedule All of Your Important Tasks
There may be times when you need to use equipment that someone else wants to use. Rather than battling it out between you, come up with an equipment schedule. Use an online calendar, for example, to help you book that much-needed equipment. When equipment is going to be used on a certain date, others will know when it’s not available. Therefore, they can book the equipment in and use it when it’s needed.
While you may still need to negotiate the use of certain equipment, scheduling will help for the most part.
Use Labels With Wild Abandon
You can never have too many labels. Start using them as soon as possible so you can organize everything. Label the cupboards and shelves so everyone knows where everything lives. You may also want to consider labeling equipment, solutions, and samples. Include as much detail on the labels as you can so that you know what the object is, what its status is and the date it was last used. Chances are, you’ll find labels are incredibly useful.
Keep your lab organized so you can find equipment whenever you need it. Staying organized can help you to work more efficiently, ensuring tasks are completed sooner.