Skill-building with Dry Erase Markers

Woman holding a marker

Learning new skills and new information is exciting, but it’s a joy we start to ignore when we get busy. You may have an impulse to learn something new, but always silence it by telling yourself you don’t have the time. “That,” you may say, “is why I need to be more productive: so I can learn these things.”

Lack of time is a valid point. Learning something new takes time, and that time is often scarce. But how about taking advantage of the time you already have? With a dry erase marker, you can add skill-building to your morning routine. You already spend time in the bathroom brushing your teeth, shaving, styling your hair—and that’s just in the morning! That doesn’t take into account all the hand-washing that goes on. Dry erase markers write smoothly on mirrors, and they wipe off just as if the mirror were a whiteboard. So scribble pieces of your new skill set on the mirror and take the time to review and internalize those pieces while you’re going about regular daily activities.

This method works better for skills and information that are memorization-heavy. However, even skills that take practical experience often have memorization components, and by putting memorization time into parts of your day that are already being used for less stimulating tasks, you create more productivity with the same amount of time. Splitting your attention like this may mean it takes a little longer to memorize your new skill than it would if you gave it focused time each day, but if you don’t have the time to focus on it, the dry-erase mirror method ekes more out of your morning routine.

You probably already have something in mind that you’d like to learn, but if you don’t have something in the queue and want to start honing new skills, here are a few ideas:

  • Expand your vocabulary. Snag a few interesting words from or Merriam-Webster and write them up on your mirror with an abbreviated definition. Either that, or you could put up words you stumble across in your regular reading and aren’t familiar with. Give each set of words a few days to settle in your memory, then swap them out for new ones.
  • Master new keyboard shortcuts. Keyboard shortcuts can make you faster and more productive on the computer and while surfing the internet. Find new ones for the programs you use from tutorial sites and use your mirror to keep them fresh in your mind.
  • Go bilingual. Learning a new language takes a lot of memorization on top of regular practice. Your mirror can help you brush up on your seventh-grade Spanish or help you commit some Chinese characters to memory. Your mirror may not be able to help your pronunciation (it’s a bit tricky to talk with a toothbrush in your mouth), but it can help your reading skills and increase your vocabulary bank.
  • Study Morse code. Even something that doesn’t get used much anymore, like Morse code, can be fun and exciting to learn. Since knowing Morse code is simply memorizing the snippet of code for each letter of the alphabet, it’s perfect for learning in the bathroom (just like the kids in Cheaper by the Dozen).

What skill do you plan to use dry erase markers to learn?

Image by Ambro via


  1. Jun 7, 2011
    5:50 am

    Rocky Romero

    This is an interesting idea for collaborating on a mirror for ideas.

    Will it work to improve ideas?

    • Jun 7, 2011
      11:50 am

      Kristy Stewart

      Or you can collaborate on a glass door or window at the office. Whether or not it would improve ideas is up to those using it. Dry erase markers can only do so much. But it could make ideas more transparent and make people more willing to brainstorm on the “idea window.”

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