Environmental Design: The Whiteboard

The humble whiteboard, also known as a dry erase board, is your Appa.  It’s more than just another tool, it’s the tool all other tools will fail to live up to.  And while your white board can’t fly, carry your friends on epic adventures, or help you fight the Fire Nation, it can be a crucial tool to help guide you along the path of self improvement.

Let’s dive in.

Which board is right for you?

There are a ton of different dry erase boards out there, but most of them are different takes on the same basic setup.  The main decision you’ll need to make is what size is right for you.  Let’s examine the options:

Small – Be careful here, there’s room to write but managing the space efficiently will be a recurring theme.  The small ones will generally range from $8 – $20.  Of note, not all of the smaller ones have a stand, but there are plenty of options that have the stand built in.

Medium – These are my go to.  They are going to be the standard 36’’ x 24’’ whiteboard you’ve probably seen in offices or back in school (not the ones that were attached to a wall).  These have plenty of room to write on.  Some of these can be a little pricey, your first one should be in the $30 – $40 range.  If you use the first one and like it then consider investing in a second one.

Large – Skip these for now.  Unless you’re a teacher who’s been about that dry erase life for a while or you have money to burn don’t worry about the large ones for now.  They go for 100s of doll hairs and take up a lot of space. 

Some other items to consider:

Markers – just get the standard four pack with an eraser for the time being.  The four colors can make for pleasing combinations on your board(s).  All black is fine but the more fun you have with this the more likely you are to stick with it.

Stands – The stands for a medium board will go for $20 – $30.  It’s not ideal but if your budget is tight then skip the stand.

Eraser – Get whichever one comes with the markers.  If for whatever reason the markers don’t come with one then pick the cheapest one or use any old rag you have laying around.

Cleaning solution – Hopefully this comes with the markers too.  If I’m out of cleaning solution then I get a rag wet in the sink and use that.

For the markers, eraser, and cleaning solution don’t overthink it.  Whatever you grab off of amazon or from walmart will be fine.

For the stand make sure it’s compatible with whatever size you’re getting.  I’ve got two pretty cheap stands, they’re not great but they get the job done.  If you can get a stand/whiteboard combination that’s a pretty safe bet.

For most people a medium whiteboard with a stand is the way to go.  If you can’t afford the medium one but are still ordering out at restaurants, getting coffee at coffee shops, or drinking bottled water then unfuck yourself.  Cut out the luxuries for a few weeks, save up the difference, and then get the medium whiteboard with a stand.

If you’re in a tight spot and already pretty optimized then don’t worry about it, the small one will work just fine.

Technique, Squidward, Technique!

the X-effect – This is what I mainly used my whiteboards for until somewhat recently.  Using a notecard is the cheapest and fastest way to get started, but using a whiteboard can be incredibly satisfying.  The contrasting colors, the smell of a fresh X, and the satisfying trot over to the dry erase board, it becomes its own experience. 

Write out your main goal(s) for the week – If you’re trying to implement one or two new habits/improvements/techniques/whatever then write them out loud and proud so you can see them.  If you struggle to successfully integrate them after a week or two then consider setting up the x effect.  Less is more here, don’t try to hit a grand slam with 6 new habits when you only need to get on base.  One or two should do the trick. 

Magnets – This is what I’m using one of my boards for now.  It’s a technique for managing non-AMR/PMR tasks.  This will get a post of it’s own in the future.

If you love the process this all can be cathartic as fuck.  It ensures you’re on top of everything and gives you peace of mind.  This next one takes longer to do but if you love the process then here you go.

Write out the following days tasks (not amr/pmr) – This is something I do on the computer because it’s way faster but if you want an IRL reminder then go for it.  Write out any errands that need to be taken care, a happy birthday text you need to send, or anything else you’d put on your to-do list.

Location, Location, Location

Don’t be like squidward and disregard the technique.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

If your X-effect task is to get up in the morning and go walk then set up your whiteboard so that it blocks half to two-thirds of your bedroom doorway to get out.  Then set your shoes right in between the legs of the stand.  

Now every morning when you get up you’ll have to confront the board.  The board is silently judging you.  Don’t disappoint the board.

If you don’t want to put it somewhere obnoxious (you should though, at least at the start) then put it in a corner of a room you spend lots of time in so you’re bound to see it.  

If you have a small whiteboard then lean it up against the mirror in your bathroom or against a door so you have to move it to open the door.  The recurring theme here is make sure the whiteboard is somewhere you can’t miss it.  This will drastically decrease the likelihood of you skipping out on your new goal.

And, of course, don’t forget the pelvic whoo:

Alright that’s all for today.

See y’all next Monday,


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