Six Tips to Combat Post-holiday Blues in the Lab

By Stephanie McCann, Canon BioMedical on August 27, 2018

We've all been there. Coming off of that sand-in-your-toes high and jumping into a daunting amount of work you said you’d do when you got back from vacation. Summer is nearly over, and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and start attacking those to do lists to achieve your goals by the end of the year. Here are a few motivating tips to help you get back on track:

  1. Plan your day/week/month/year. Start the school year off fresh. If you don’t already have plans in place for how you want to achieve your goals by the end of the year, make some. If you’re already working through an existing plan, take the time to sit down and reflect on your path. Taking the time to regroup at the beginning of the new season will give you a renewed sense of energy to achieve your goals.
  2. Break big tasks into small manageable tasks. No one likes staring at an overwhelming “write thesis” line item on their to-do list. What are some ways you can break your research up into more digestible chunks right now? Do some empirical testing for a new proof of concept. Find a few great papers that support why you chose to do the research you’re doing. Make that call to schedule an appointment with a mentor.
  3. Check a few easy things off the list. The hardest part is just getting started. Create a list and check a few easy, actionable things off right away. Do you need to transcribe some data into a new format? Or order some new basic supplies? Doing a few straightforward tasks will get you motivated to keep the productivity rolling.

  4. Give the lab a good old scrub. Put your procrastination to work and get cleaning. Get your tips, gloves, and plates organized. Clean your digital mess, too, and think about a file-naming structure that will keep your data organized moving forward. Make up some fresh bleach and set up some processes to keep the lab clean. For more tips on keeping a clean lab and preventing amplicon contamination, read our recent blog post.
  5. Explore new time management techniques. Do you work best in 25 minute chunks with 5 minute breaks? 47 minutes with an 11 minute break? Try out some new methods and find the rhythm that works best for you.
  6. When all else fails, treat yourself. Promise yourself a scoop (or two) of your favorite ice cream once you finish writing that poster abstract submission. Don’t let yourself go to happy hour until you’ve finished analyzing that last data set. Use whatever carrot works to get the job done.

Use these tips to keep you on track with your research and leave more time to think about your next, and well deserved, sand-in-your-toes escape.