How to stay sane in online transition – Slack


By Salome Pachkoria, Anna Phillips and Jasmine Wang

Everyone agrees that communication has become even more important in this online transition. No longer can you simply run into your classmates on campus to agree on your next meeting for the group project – now, you have to communicate about it online! Did you know that a growing number of companies are using Slack as an alternative to emails to streamline this communication? 

Would you like to become a professional Slack user in 15 minutes or less?

Slack is a great communication tool that can be used by either a small group of coworkers or a big company. We at the META Lab use Slack, as does CTEC, so if you work there now or plan to work at any of the amazing offices at MIIS implementing this program, it would be very beneficial for you to learn more about it. Also, fun fact: more than 100,000 companies around the world use Slack, so understanding it could be advantageous for you after graduation!

Take a look at a great short video introducing Slack

Below are some useful functions in Slack that you might want to know how to use to streamline your work and improve your productivity: 

  • Do you have important messages that you would like to be able to reference easily? Worry not, Slack has got you covered with the “Pin Messages” option. 
  • How to set up shared channels (a function for companies) 
  • Searching for a certain message has never been easier. Do you want to filter your search results? That’s easy as well! 
  • Quick navigation is one of the nicest features of Slack. You can customize shortcuts to your liking! 
  • There are a lot of ways to customize the sidebar to fit your needs! 
  • Want to make sure you have everything under control? Set up reminders!  
  • Set up new feeds of your favorite blogs to make sure you won’t miss anything! 
  • Slack is not only an alternative for email but for video conferencing tools as well! Need to have a virtual meeting? It is easily done with Slack! 

Customizing your Slack video goes over some other ways you can customize your Slack space, including other tools you can integrate into Slack. Some examples are given, but there are many more – including many of the ones we discussed in previous blog posts!

How to stay sane in online transition – Project/Time Management Tools


By Salome Pachkoria, Anna Phillips and Jasmine Wang

Have your project and time management skills been undermined by the online transition? 

Welcome to the club!

We decided to introduce three great resources that might help boost your productivity and confidence and help you stay focused, at least until the end of this semester! (Seriously though, these tools might become your lifelong friends).   

  1. Process street: PM

Process street is an excellent checklist-based project management tool. . According to your own workflow, you can customize your own checklist items! Sounds good for automating your work process, right? It can be really efficient and improve your productivity. 

To get to know it, check out this short demo

To dig more into it and see how it can help to fulfill your own goal in the best way, take a look at this thorough review

Just to let you know, once you’ve signed up (for free!), the community managers of Process Street will follow up on you through emails to see how you are doing with their product, and will happily provide you a complete set of tutorials to help you onboard if you allow them! 

  1. Asana: PM/TM

Asana is another excellent tool that can help you manage different projects while also improving your time management. What makes this program stand out from other PM tools is that it’s super flexible – there are many ways you can tailor it to fit your needs, and integrate it into your daily life. If you have a ton of group projects, no sweat – it can keep track of things such as which person is responsible for each task, the information related to these tasks, and all other information related to its progress. 

No worries – the basic version and downloadable app are both free (though Asana works just as well online)

Intrigued? Here are two places to look for detailed information:

  • Their YouTube series, “How to Asana”
  • The Asana Guide includes articles on a variety of topics, including how to get started, team onboarding, and what they call “Aha moments” (different ways to integrate Asana into your favorite apps that will make you say AHA!)
  1. Toggl: TM

Toggl is a great time management tool that can be used by both individuals and by groups. It only takes one click to start a new time entry, and data is synced between different devices so you can start your time on your browser and stop it on your phone. Moreover, the app converts all the tracked numbers into reports so you have a good idea of just how long you spent watching Netflix compared to studying for a test. Tags and colors make for really nice data visualizations. Also, because Toggl is a simple and intuitive app, you will not be spending hours trying to learn how to use it. You can sign-up for the free basic plan here

And if you insist on watching a tutorial, we’ve got you covered 

P.S. If you want to check-out similar apps, here are some examples: 

How to stay sane in online transition – Zoom


By Salome Pachkoria and Anna Phillips 

Have you counted how many times you have heard the word “Zoom” over the last month? Too many to count? This is why, for our first blog post, we have decided to give you a quick introduction to Zoom in the form of links to short (1-4 minutes) videos!

Just one thing – what even IS Zoom? Zoom is a video-conferencing software that allows individuals and groups to meet and work together productively. As Zoom is going to become our new best friend this semester, let’s explore what fun features are available!

To start, we’d like to highlight a few functions we discovered in Zoom that we thought would be incredibly useful for faculty and students alike. They are as follows:

  1. Break-out groups on Zoom:

This impressive feature makes it possible to have in-class group discussions. The host can assign co-hosts and decide the number of rooms as well as members of each breakout room. The host can join any breakout room, and broadcast messages to everyone. 

  1. Screen sharing options:

This is very helpful for anyone who wants to do a presentation, or actively show a step-by-step process to others in the call. There are different screen sharing options including sharing a specified screen, a certain file, and more! 

  1. Recording:

This can be a very useful feature, especially since recordings can be directly uploaded to the cloud for sharing purposes.

Here are some other really important (and fun!) things you can do in Zoom:

  • There is a chat room available for every Zoom meeting. Make sure you can use it if necessary – for example, if you don’t want to interrupt a lecture but need to ask a question. 
  • Make sure that you use the Mute/Unmute function properly. (It’s a good idea to put your audio on mute when you are not talking, if you think there might be some ambient noise that will disrupt your classes/meetings).  
  • Here is a video on how to join Zoom meetings (this way you aren’t late due to “technical difficulties”)
  • Here is how you can schedule a meeting
  • Some META Lab GAs have been having fun with Virtual Backgrounds! Try it! 
  • In this 10-minute video, you will see many different ways to customize a meeting so it is exactly how you want it!  
  • Syncing Zoom with your calendar might be helpful. (That way you are not watching Netflix while you are supposed to be in class or a meeting!)

By the way, many of the features mentioned above require use of the desktop app. Downloading it is super easy – go to the download center, download Zoom Client for Meeting, and install it. This will also give you the ability to customize your preferences (for example, you can make sure that for every meeting you join, you will be joining with muted audio and no video). So, go ahead and download the app so you can start playing with all the fun things we showed you above! 
We understand that some people aren’t as enthused by video instructions. Here’s an article that goes over many of the same things