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  • Writer's pictureLauren Aguilar

My ICO Productivity Essentials

Having completed my first quarter of optometry school at ICO, I’ve come to realize there are some things that I just can’t live without. While study methods, workout plans, and sleep schedules change, here are a few essentials that I know are here to stay:

iPad Pro with Apple Pencil

I’m the type of student who loves taking aesthetically pleasing and color-coordinated notes. Before I started graduate school, you could always find a pack of 20 colored pens and 5 colored highlighters in my backpack. Right before starting at ICO, I decided to invest in an iPad Pro which is compatible with the Apple Pencil. I’m so glad I did. It’s convenient to download my notes into a note-taking app and have the ability to change pen and highlighter colors without having to remove caps and take up my entire desk with writing utensils. I almost exclusively use my iPad when taking notes during class. Although tablets are quite expensive, I would highly recommend purchasing one if you are enrolling in a graduate program (especially if you are a visual learner like I am!) Alternatives to the Apple product exist at different price points. For other options, check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab or Google Nexus Tablet.


I. Love. Headphones. In fact, I have 3 different pairs of headphones at school that I use almost every day:

  1. Large over-the-ear headphones: for working out or blocking out noise (and also for when I want to send that “I’m in deep thought, don’t talk to me” message!) I use a pair (Beats Solo 3) that I received free during a ‘back to college’ promotion by Apple. Large, noise-canceling headphones can be expensive, so I recommend looking out for bundling deals that often occur at the beginning of the academic year.

  2. Smaller, more portable headphones: used most often in the library, coffee shops, or in my room when I just need a little background noise. I use PowerBeats Wireless that I’ve had for years, but there are so many alternatives on Amazon available for a fraction of the price.

  3. Very small “pod” headphones: strictly for playing white noise when I am trying to fall asleep. I personally use these Sleep Buds by Bose and they have been a game changer.

From this information, I’m sure you’re able to gather how easily distractible I am, so it’s important that I have headphones on hand at all times to get me in the zone!


One of my school essentials that has not gone electronic is my agenda. While there are plenty of ways to incorporate your devices, such as your phone’s calendar or a planning app, there’s something about having a hard copy agenda that keeps me more organized. There are so many weekly deadlines we have to meet in optometry school; I have to physically write down every single one of them if I’m not going to forget. For example, if there’s an online assignment due every Tuesday, you can bet that I go through my planner and write out the time that assignment is due on every Tuesday of the quarter. While it may seem excessive, this has saved me from getting a zero more than once! I also make sure I cross out each assignment or exam one at a time as I complete them which keeps me from feeling too overwhelmed.


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