We have all heard it before “Don’t re-invent the Wheel”. But how can we stop from doing it in our research, in our projects and in our lives. The number one thing is in our groups, know what is our labmates have done before us. What are the group resources. Then know what is the Department resources. Finally what is the University resources. Great know the resources, but how do I know the resources, where do I find them. The best thing I have found is to talk to people. Then to look online. Google is my best friend :). The other thing is to get involved in different things. If you know of a program at another school, ask do we have that here and who do I talk to. Most departments have websites check them out.
Keep up with the literature. This is easier said then done. Some ways that help me keep up with the literature is Twitter. I follow authors that do similar research. I also follow journals I publish in. Another thing that I do is get ACS e-alerts I can quickly see what was publish that week and if it is relevant to me. (You can set how often you want them). I often will do a google scholar and scifinder search when I start a project to understand the field a little more and see where I might fit in. Has what I want to try to do already been done.
I think we have all been in a place where we re-invented the wheel sort to say by accident and realized the work could have already been done for us. I try not to fall into doing this, but occasionally it happens to the best of us.