Whether it’s an experimental design or an article/thesis writing process, the most important step begins with planning to get things done in the laboratory. Weeks that aren’t regularly planned are usually lost.
The first image visualised in mind when it comes to laboratory studies is the researchers experimenting in front of a counter; but it’s not really the case. There are actually many steps ahead of the experimental procedure.
An experimental process, begins with the research of the theoretical infrastructure of the experiment most of the time. After reading many articles, turning many pages and taking many notes, experiments begin with the expected experimental findings are kept on one side. And if you’re lucky, you get the results you expected. The simplest and most important step to make this process proceed properly is planning in advance.
Planning step may comprise a wide scale of steps, like identifying the articles needed to read or setting up meetings with your lab mates. More detailed topics such as determining possible B plans can be planned in advance too, along with predictions of which experiments will be conducted in which weeks/days, or which problems you may encounter.
One of the critical advantages that lies beneath doing this is that it actually is one of the solutions to mental fatigue. The experimental procedure, which will constantly tumble your mind when you start an unplanned experiment, will be ready from the beginning by planning in advance. In addition, you’ll have an extra card in your pocket when you encounter an unexpected problem thanks to the fact that your pre-thought solutions for the possible problems. The most important profit of the meeting with your lab mates about the progress is to be able to continue to the experiments without any disruptions originating from any unexpected errors. Every individual put himself/herself in a position where they needed to be careful to comply with the program in order not to be the one who disrupts the flow. This brings a flow of experiments that are not affected by minor disruptions.
There are many different sources that allow you to plan, and I’m using more than one.
I do my planning with my calendar for daily tasks (this calendar is also in continuous synchronization with my computer) and with a to-do list-style program for instant tasks in my phone. In addition, I always write my daily/weekly schedule on an agenda that I carry in my bag.
My planning by using paper and pen gives me the ability to think more efficiently. After I form my schedule on paper, I precisely add it to my online calendar. The experimental procedure is developing simultaneously as I start to form my schedule on paper. As the procedure steps build, so does the agenda.
In this way, my phone only functions as a simple reminder. I check my agenda and lab notebook for the other details. I am doing this in this way only because I like using pens more. What I write on paper settles more in my head than what I write on the phone. In this way, I have had through with an entire week before it starts.