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Four Back-To-School Productivity Tools the Whole Family Can Benefit From

Everyone needs tools to be successful at their jobs

Ellen Goodwin
5 min readAug 26, 2021


It’s Back-to-School season in most parts of the country. And while what back-to-school is going to look like continues to be up in flux, what kids do at school, either virtually or in real life, doesn’t really change.

Ideally, they learn.

That’s their job. And just like grown-ups, kids need tools to be successful at their job.

Depending on their age(s), kids need, among other things, pencils, erasers, crayons, notebooks, and hand sanitizer. But there are four other tools that they (and you, as a parental figure) can benefit from.

First up is a couple of whiteboards.
Whiteboards aren’t just for conference rooms; they have a role at home, as well. A small whiteboard in a child’s room gives them a place to track homework, set reminders, or plan and follow goals, all of which help to promote responsibility and decision making.

A large whiteboard in a common family area is great for listing chores, keeping track of everyone’s weekly schedule, as well as planning family outings and goals. Giving everyone in the family their own color of marker ups the organizational level. Whiteboards keep the important things front and center and prevent them from getting lost in the daily shuffle.

Second, an old-fashioned, ticking kitchen timer.
Whether it’s doing chores, chipping away at homework, or playing video games, a ticking timer is the tool of choice to keep things focused.

One of my clients swears by his kitchen timer when it’s time for his boys to clean their rooms. He sets the timer for 15 minutes and tells them they only have to clean until the bell goes off. Usually, two things happen: first, his kids get started more quickly since they know they don’t have to be cleaning for a long time. Second, they find they can get a lot more done in 15 minutes than they initially thought they could, so they are less hesitant to get started the next time.

Timers work great for getting homework done as well. Have your kids pick a subject, then set the timer for 20 minutes, and have them focus on that subject during that block of time. Once the 20 minutes is up, choose a new…



Ellen Goodwin

Productivity Consultant, TEDx Speaker, Podcast Co-host, Author of DONE: How To Work When No One Is Watching. Learn more at