4 ways to boost remote learning productivity


Nastaran Moghimi

Senior Nastaran Moghimi finishes school work on her laptop.

Remote learning has been implemented in high schools across the nation, but students are still adjusting to the switch; paper notebooks and journals have been replaced with Google Docs and online planners and hardcover textbooks have been replaced with PDFs. Although this transition can be tough, here are four items to ease the process of online learning.

1. Notion

The Notion application is an online workspace that combines the best features of existing platforms such as Google Drive, Excel and Dropbox. Students can create calendars, daily schedules, to-do lists, documents and anything else related to school in one location.

I love to use Notion to organize my life because it provides me with a way to have everything I need during the day easily accessible.”

— Nastaran Moghimi

While it may seem daunting at first, Notion is a fantastic way to organize notes and tasks, which can help to boost productivity and attentiveness. “I love to use Notion to organize my life because it provides me with a way to have everything I need during the day easily accessible. My Notion dashboard has links to all of my classes; my daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists; and my habit tracker. Having all of these things in the same place really allows me to feel like in the ever-changing the world around me that there is some organization and stability. I honestly love the to-do list aspect of it especially because checking something off of my Notion to-do list makes me feel that much more motivated to do the other tasks on the list,” senior Nastaran Moghimi said.

With features in the Wall Street Journal and Medium, Notion has quickly become one of the best productivity apps of 2020.

2. Picture-in-Picture
Picture-in-Picture is a Google Chrome extension that allows users to watch a video in a floating window while working in other tabs. The video can be resized and moved around on the screen, which is especially useful for note-taking from recorded lectures or videos on Youtube.

Senior Daniel Hwang uses this extension both in and out of school. “The Picture-in-Picture function works great when I’m multitasking in schoolwork or just watching anything in general. There are limited functions such as the lack of playback control and absence of closed captioning, but this doesn’t pose that big of a problem,” Hwang said.

3. Pomodoro Timer

A Pomodoro Timer application is a productivity system that promotes breaks during work sessions. Using the Pomodoro technique, you break your workday into 25 minute sessions with five minute breaks in between. These intervals are known as “pomodoros,” and is one of the most effective methods to improve your focus during studying. After four cycles, your break lasts 20 to 30 minutes, which will help regroup your thoughts and rest before your next pomodoros.

Senior Janani Ilangovan has been using this technique to help with school work. “The Pomodoro Technique works for me because I get breaks at just the right point for me to stay motivated and not get burnt out, so even though I’m taking breaks more often, I end up working longer because those breaks are just five minutes whereas before I would spend an hour on TikTok,” Ilangovan said.

4. Dr. Wicked: Write or Die

The Write or Die website is a writing tool designed to combat writer’s block through tangible consequences. It’s mechanics are simple: Users are asked to set a time limit and word count, and then type in the app’s window. When the writing slows down or stops, there are punishments. These punishments can be set by the user beforehand, ranging from “gentle,” which changes the screen color to a painfully bright red, “normal,” which emits an unpleasant sound, or “kamikaze,” which slowly deletes previous words that have been written. Whichever options users choose, the message this website sends is clear: continue writing or else. 

When I write for class work as well as debate work, I like to use Write or Die to keep me on track and on time to finish my assignments.”

— James Mu

Write or Die also has a reward mode, where writers receive positive reinforcement after reaching milestones. “When I write for class work as well as debate work, I like to use Write or Die to keep me on track and on time to finish my assignments. Applications such as this one have useful features such as a timer and a word count as well as motivating sound and color indicators to congratulate me on my progress,” Mu said.