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The one-year anniversary of universities shifting completely online is coming up soon; and in that time, I have picked up a few items that have made my time on Zoom a little bit easier.

iPad and Apple Pencil

An iPad and an Apple pencil were some of the first things I got before going into college. I will admit that I planned to buy both of these before everything moved online, but nonetheless, I love and use them every single day. One of the benefits of having an Apple laptop is that you can use your iPad as a second screen and screen-mirror! It’s great for when you have a lot of typing to do, but you still want to see the lecture or something else of that sort. I would recommend getting a good note-taking app or finding one that works for you because without this it will be a bit difficult to, in my opinion, get the most out of these products. 

Apple Pencil Grip and Matte Screen Protector

I would include getting these accessories when buying an Apple pencil and iPad because of how much nicer they make the use of these products. The grip will help you write a lot easier, and it doesn’t strain your hand at all. The matte screen protector helps eliminate the glare that many devices experience because of overhead lighting. In addition to this, the protector makes it feel like you are writing on paper, creating more friction on the screen when you are using the Apple pencil. I’ve also found that it also causes less eye-strain. 

Blue Light Glasses

On the topic of eye strain, I recommend blue-light glasses. Because we are on screens all day — whether it is your laptop, computer, phone, or tablet — most of our time is spent looking at devices that emit blue light. Getting blue light glasses will help block the blue light and lessen the tension on your eyes. You can get them if you don’t have a prescription at almost every store. If you have a prescription, then the next time you get a new pair of glasses add the blue light blocking lens feature.

Laptop Stand

Buying a laptop stand seriously helped my posture (and back in general). Getting an adjustable laptop stand is the best thing ever because the screen will be eye-level, and you won’t have to worry about ruining your posture or having a kink in your neck. My laptop stand helps me type faster because my hands’ placement feels a lot better than without the stand.

Lap Desk

I like to work in many different places: a desk or table, a sofa, the floor, my bed, etc. I’ve found that having a lap desk when I don’t have an actual desk helps with working. You get a bit of support if you are on your laptop, and it doesn’t tilt or anything like that. If you have written work, then the lap desk will give you a flat surface that makes it much easier to continue writing. It also works as a table for food if you want to eat on your bed or the couch.

Seat Cushion

If you’re in a dorm, like I am, you most likely have a wooden chair that hurts to sit in after long periods of time. I got some cushions for my chair so that I can sit comfortably and pay attention to my lecture, rather than focusing on how much the chair hurts. There are so many options for these online, similar to most of the items on this list. You can use these as floor cushions or as regular pillows or even reading pillows — you just have to look into the different designs and styles various companies have to figure out what works best for you and your needs. 

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

I think this is a must-have for anyone that has to work surrounded by distractions. If you’re sharing your living space with other people, these will help you focus easily because of how it blocks all sounds out. I like to listen to brown noise music when I’m working because that sound also allows me to clear my head and focus solely on my work. There are so many different types of noise-canceling headphones that exist out there — you can definitely find one that works for you! 

Kindle

As someone that loves to read, I am so glad I have a Amazon Kindle. I will say that I got my Kindle way before COVID-19 came, but now more than ever, it’s amazing. I have the Kindle that looks like an actual book, so whenever I want to read, I don’t cause even more eye-strain, and I don’t have to spend more time on a device. It’s also really easy to carry around everywhere with me because it’s lightweight and small. 

Toby

This last one is not something that I bought, but it is something that I have been using forever and have recommended to so many people for online classes. Toby is a Chrome extension that will save “sessions” on your new tab page. So instead of having multiple tabs open for 5 or 6 different classes, you can look at the session you want, work, and then save it again. It’s almost like file folders, but for your tabs. 

I’m sure there are so many other things that have helped me (and you) during these trying times, but these are the ones that I know made doing everything on Zoom a bit more bearable. 

Mahati Shastry

Columbia Barnard '24

Mahati is a sophomore at Barnard who is excited to experience the wonder that is NYC. She loves reading, writing, and spending time outdoors. Even though she is just entering the Barnard family, she already feels like she’s at home. Currently, she is undecided but is very interested in political science and human rights. :)
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