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From the beach to the bench: how to reduce Monday’s depression?

After quite some time on vacation (10 days!) it is kinda hard to return to the bench. It’s not that I am lazy, far from it, its just that the mindset is tuned on different waves and all of a sudden, you need to shift yourself from 0 to 100 Mph. Well, I’ve decided this year I am not going to fall for this one once again (you can also read numerous posts written in the Labguru’s blog).

Accelerating to cruise speed

Just like an accelerating Formula F1 racing car in Monte Carlo’s racing tracks, you need an accelerating lane to bring you to cruising speed so you will be on the right speed when aligning to the main lane. Yesterday I have  gone over my progress, my goals and the tasks that lay ahead: I had one paper in submission and I was in the middle of collecting data for another paper. The first place I have visited is Labguru’s home page to plan the coming week:

Labguru's calendar - the home base for correct planning

There, I have scheduled to verify the expression of protein X which should be later be used in pull down assays scheduled to the 17th and 18th; In case the expression was not good there will be no reason to do the pull down experiments (same batch of cells) so I will be planning on redoing the expression tests and cancel the pull down assay. I have also a continually-scheduled structure determination task of another protein that runs in the background of all my work. Planning the work a day or two before heading back to the lab will make my integration back into work much more easier…additional tips for a relatively soft landing in the lab are:

  • Work load – don’t overload yourself with work and duties on your return from a vacation. Take it easy for the first few days and plan the major experiments for the rest of the week.
  • Setting expectations – In case your PI is stressed out for results, email them your plan for the week. This way your PI won’t be annoyed by you not performing as he expected.
  • Enjoy – on stressful days you might want to splurge yourself in the evening so to remove part of the stress
  • Remember – remind yourself WHY are you doing your research. See the goal and how it will affect your life once you reach it.
I will elaborate a bit further about Labguru’s current research module.

Labguru’s experiment module now with timers

Each of the planned experiments can now be accessed directly from the home page by clicking or new experiments/events can be easily added through the buttons at the upper-right side. For example, I have added the lysis of the cells, which is planned for Wednesday morning:

The experiment page - now with integral timers!

In addition to the description, which is used to detail the rational of performing the experiment, there are also the details of the different steps of the experiment with the option to add the time of incubation/step. This is especially useful for iPad users that can use these to activate an integrated timer which is incorporated into the free Labguru app. There is also a place to write notes about the ongoing experiment (such as technicalities or observed phenomenon) and of course, there is a box for the details of the results. You can now attach by drag-n-drop style any file which contain the raw data or image or any other file which is related to the experiment (protocol, like in the above example).

Please share – how do you manage your return to the bench after a long vacation?

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