Productivity 101: A Practical Guide to Navigating High School

Sarah Liu, Features Editor

High school is an enormous transition for every freshman—equally exciting as it is challenging. You’re in for new freedoms and responsibilities, so how do you avoid getting lost in these changes? Planning! 

There are countless organizational tools to help you stay on top of your work. Not only will they keep track of homework, but they’ll also help you manage your time effectively and balance your schedule. Here are some of my favorite productivity aids:

Bullet Journaling

Bullet journaling is a productivity trend that has recently skyrocketed in popularity. To start, all you need is a notebook, which you can then customize with calendars, task planners, and habit trackers. Bullet journals can be as personal as you like, allowing you to decorate them with your artistic flair. If you are especially interested in bullet journaling, LHS has a bullet journal club where you can find like-minded bujo gurus!

Google Calendar

It can also be beneficial to time block using a calendar. Visualizing your responsibilities helps you manage time effectively. Google Calendar is an intuitive, user-friendly calendar app. It syncs with Google Classroom, which makes staying on top of your assignments more manageable. Not only can it set reminders, but your calendar can also be shared with family and friends to help coordinate plans.


Todoist is a no-frills to-do list app, providing a streamlined platform to suit your daily needs. Tasks can be split into “projects” of your choosing. Some of mine include “tests and projects” and “extracurricular homework.” You can set due dates and times for tasks, and tasks can be set to repeat weekly or even annually! Although Todoist does not have a calendar, it syncs with Google Calendar if you prefer a visual format for your due dates.


Notion is the do-it-all resource that productivity YouTubers can’t stop talking about. Users often compare it to a virtual bullet journal. It has templates that allow you to journal, use calendars, organize notes, make to-do lists, and more! The visuals are customizable so that you can have fun with aesthetics. Not only can Notion serve as an app to log your schedule and map out deadlines, but it can also be used for note-taking. The app even allows users to share their work with others, maximizing collaboration! 


In the Habitica universe, you are a gallant hero conquering your daily habits and to-do lists. Habitica lets you gamify your work. When you complete tasks, you gain coins, health points, and even pets! You can also keep track of bad habits: you lose health points when you check them off. The platform is open-source, allowing you to use features that come with hefty price tags on other apps, such as a Pomodoro chrome extension. Habitica makes mundane responsibilities like cleaning your bed an exciting challenge.

While your ideal routine may evolve in high school, finding tools that work for you is important. Some of my friends are bullet journaling enthusiasts, but to me, keeping a paper notebook is stressful because I frequently lose half my possessions. During my freshman and sophomore years, Todoist served as an easy “one-stop shop.” Since then, I have switched to using Notion as a journal and note-taking device and Google Calendar as an app to optimally plan my schedule. What works best for you may change with time, but remember that as important as your work is, the purpose of productivity is to make time for yourself too! Organization and relaxation feed one another, and together, they’ll help you have a great freshman year.