Tag Archives: productivity

Why Every College Student Needs Notion In Their Life

Let’s face it, staying organized in college is hard. Especially when most classes are online through Zoom or in some cases, completely asynchronous and self-paced. 

As a first-year college student, I was struggling with finding a way to organize my academic and personal life. Then I stumbled upon a productivity app called Notion. Those unfamiliar with this app are probably wondering what exactly is Notion and how exactly it works.

Released in March 2016, only available on web browsers and macOS, Notion works as a fully customizable interface described as an all-in-one workplace. From a daily journal to reading lists, creating a vision board, a budget tracker, or my personal favorite, a school semester planner, the app works for just about anything.

Also, one major bonus is Notion’s Personal Pro plan that is free for students and teachers who sign up with their school email account with no credit card required! Check out this article from Notion Official to learn more about setting up your personal workplace.

Along with free access, Notion’s Personal Pro plan offers users unlimited file uploads such as images, videos, audio, embeds, web bookmarks, and more. As well as unlimited guest collaborators on pages, and access to the version history of any page for up to 30 days. 

If you are new to the app and unsure where to start, I recommend checking out Notion’s templates available for users to duplicate and customize. Some popular templates include class notes, weekly or daily agendas, personal course schedules, meeting notes, and tracking job applications.

When I was first experimenting with Notion, a YouTube channel called Janice Studies was especially helpful in my journey to find out what works best for my needs.

Last year, she posted a video tutorial for a school semester template that included a weekly course schedule, a master schedule with assignments and due dates, as well as course pages with class information and topic lists. It was a lifesaver and I am forever grateful I found her channel before my first semester at UT.

Then, earlier this year, she posted another video tutorial for a new and updated version of the previous template. Similar to the last one, this is currently saving my life this semester.

This template features a master schedule and weekly course schedule. I found this one to be much more detailed with course pages now including lecture notes, learning objectives, and a grade calculator.

Another helpful resource for users new and old is the Notion Made Simple Facebook Group, which has nearly 34,000 members. In this group, users are allowed to share their workspace, templates (most of them are free but some cost money), tips and tricks, as well as ask questions if you are ever struggling or confused about something.

The most recent resource I have found from the Facebook Group is a website with free templates from Pranav – NotionSquared for a reading tracker.

Screenshot by Thalia Menchaca

Working as a digital library, this template allows readers to track their progress for multiple books based on the number of pages read. It also has the option to click on the title and start a new page for taking notes as you read. The website also has templates for goal tracking, efficient to-do lists, and spaced repetition for working or studying.

Though it may sound dramatic, I don’t think I would have survived this year not only without Notion but also these incredibly helpful resources that are free and available to users. Although there are moments when I struggled to customize a template to my liking (and also because I am a perfectionist), it gets easier as you get more accustomed and play around with it.

Featured Image by Lauren Breach

Tips for Creating a Work Environment at Home

Classes at UT Austin are back in session, but unlike ever before they are commencing amidst a global pandemic. For many students, this means a semester full of uncertainty and adaptation especially when it comes to classes. Students are spending more time at home then ever before and the adjustment can be challenging. 

In the comfort of your own bed, you can attend lectures, talk with your professor and even take a test. It sounds like a dream come true, but in reality students are struggling to find a routine, become productive and manage their mental health. It is easy for your home to become a place of stress and responsibility instead of relaxation and nourishment. 

Regardless of if you are living in a small West Campus apartment, or a large family home, creating a work environment where you live is essential for success this semester. Here are some ways to create a space that promotes productivity, encourages rest and allows for growth and learning. 

  1. Finding your Space

Privacy is a luxury when it comes to staying home and it can be really hard to focus with families and roommates all around. When picking a place to work here is what to consider.

Assess the environment in which you like to learn. Do you like a lot of noise, some sounds, or no sound at all? If you like peace and quiet it might be best to pick a bedroom or a closet, but if you like a lot of sound and movement pick the living room or a kitchen island.

 It’s also important to note that having more than one study space is a great way to break the monotony of online school. Try separating certain tasks into certain settings. For example, when you attend class and want a quiet setting move to a small bedroom or maybe even a patio or backyard, but don’t be afraid to sit in the living room with other roommates while filling out your planner or copying notes from a powerpoint slide. 

  1. Setting up your Space

Truthfully, the way you decorate and organize your desk can be more important than its location. A cluttered desk often reflects in the quality of your study time and work. Similarly, the more organized and personalized your desk is the more likely you are to have a productive and motivated study session. 

The best way to avoid a cluttered desk is to not keep too many things on your desk. A storage organizer for your notebooks, pens, pencils and folders will help to contain the clutter. The more blank space you leave on your desk, the more room you have to spread out your study materials 

Secondly, it is important to make your desk a welcoming environment. Not only does a personalized space encourage you to study, it can also make studying more comfortable. Here are some ideas on how to personalize your desk:

  • Add pictures of your friends and family
  • Switch out your LED lamp for a warm-lit salt lamp or Christmas lights
  • Add a fuzzy blanket or pillow to your desk chair
  • Brighten your desk with a plant or greenery
  • Place a vision board above your desk
  • Add small knick-knacks or fidget toys to your desk
  • Add a candle or a small essential oil diffuser
  • Get a small weekly or monthly desk calendar