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Back to School Success Tips

Written by Virginia Howard.

How is summer over already? I don’t know about you, but this summer flew by so fast! Honestly, I’m not too mad about it. I love back to school season: the shopping, cool weather and getting everything organized for the year to come! I have big goals for school this year so I’ve spent some time looking into different tips, apps, chrome extensions, etc., to make this my most efficient, organized and productive year yet. I thought I would share my tips and hopefully, you’ll feel a little bit more prepared for classes to start back up again!

Simplify and aestheticize your space

This is definitely a personal preference tip, however, I spent some time personalizing my computer desktop, iPad and workspace to make it minimal and simple (clutter-free) and styled in a way I like. It puts me in a better mind space to get work done and be productive!


We are living and thriving off of technology now, so use that to your advantage! This obviously varies depending on who you are, what devices you have, and even your program, but I will share some of the apps I have discovered! (for reference I have an iPad, MacBook and iPhone)


  • Goodnotes 5: This is where I take almost all of my notes! You can organize them into different folders and notebooks, and type, draw and highlight on them. There are so many great features to take amazing notes with; look up tutorials on Youtube and you’re set!
  • Pencil Planner: I used this last year as my planner and loved it. It connects to your calendar (Apple, Google, etc.), and then you can write in it as well. There’s also a phone app so you can see what your day is like from any device! I really like to plan my weekdays by the hour, so I know exactly what I need to be doing and when. Don’t forget to schedule in breaks and fun activities, too!


  • CleanMyMacX: This is just an app to help you clean up your computer so it runs faster and works better. My computer was SO slow after last year and now it feels like I bought a new computer!
  • Paste: If you are required to do a lot of research with quotes and references, this is such a helpful app. It’s basically a way to copy multiple texts at a time, saving it on sticky notes for you automatically. You can organize the sticky notes and easily access them for references and pasting!

Chrome Extensions

  • ForcePIP: Turns any video you’re watching into a separate screen that plays over any page, so you can watch videos/lectures and multitask with notes, research, emails.
  • Forest: A focus/ productivity app!
  • Grammarly: Honestly are you even a university student if you don’t have this already?
  • myBIB: Citation maker for any webpage.
  • Posture reminder: My chiropractor will be proud of me for this one!
  • One tab: If you’re like me and have a billion tabs open at once, you can turn them into one tab and sort through them (also amazing for research papers!).
  • Podcastle: Turns any text into a podcast so you can listen instead of read – yay for multitasking!

There are so many different ways to organize for school; I highly recommend checking out Youtube to get inspiration and find what works best for you! Good luck this semester!

Saachi Bami

McMaster '23

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