Business 'How-To'

Does this spectrometer spark joy? Applying the KonMari method to a laboratory

By April 12, 2019 No Comments

Have you read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Upby Marie Kondo? I did, and after absorbing the advice, my first thoughts were about emptying my guestroom closet that holds everything that doesn’t go anywhere else, and reorganizing my sock drawer, where I have apparently been doing a grave disservice to my Bombas by rolling them incorrectly.  The premise of Kondo’s KonMari method is that you should declutter and remove anything that does not spark joy in you when you look at it or use it. Kondo’s second book Spark Joyprovides illustrated instructions on arranging things so that they are easy to access and beautifully maintained (i.e., no balls of socks jammed in a drawer). I’m trying, I really am.

As I thought more about it, I realized that the ideas in the book are equally applicable outside the home, and I wondered what Marie Kondo would suggest for my laboratory.  So here is my attempt to use the KonMari method to organize my environmental lab:

  1. Obsolete equipment, placed in the bottom cabinet five years ago and not calibrated since, can be sold or disposed of and simultaneously deleted from inventory. 
  2. Stock List – we reorganized the stock list and updated all of the vendor and ordering information, including links to online ordering where available.
  3. Bottle room- we organized them based on size and method and labelled the shelves. (This really did spark joy because it looks beautiful)
  4. Cleaning – we formally instituted weekly cleaning of the entire lab on Fridays.
  5. Workbenches – we looked at how we work and rearranged some things – putting the pipettes and other handheld equipment on the side of each analyst’s dominant hand, and also putting the trash bin on that side.  The center of the bench is left clear for work; only supplies needed that day are kept on the bench. Logbooks and laptops are placed where they are easily accessible but away from wet materials.
  6. Supplies – we reorganized so that inventory was easier, and designated storage area for the coolers we use for sampling and shipping.
  7. Shipping Materials – we set up bins for reuseable materials we receive and put all the shipping materials (tape, labels, shipping forms) in one place.
  8. Records Retention – we checked our files and eliminated documents that could be destroyed per the policy.

Is it perfect? No.  Do the Millepores and waterbaths spark joy? I guess so. More importantly, we are more efficient and less aggravated because we know where everything is. So I think it was worth the effort.  Now, back to my sock drawer…

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