Mastering new skills can seem intimidating, at best, and like a too-big hill to climb the rest of the time. Learning something new takes commitment, and time we often don’t think we have – but what if you could learn something totally useful and applicable in just a few hours?

If you’re into that idea, here are 15 suggestions from Redditors who’ve got your back.

15. It can save you cash, too.


It’s such a great skill! you can fix clothes, or close some fat gash you get from fighting a bear.

14. It could literally save your life.


Learn the right way and you can be swimming in under a week.

13. You can’t be Nancy Drew if you can’t pick a lock.

Basic lock picking. Better than calling a locksmith because you locked yourself out of your car, or lost the key to your storage building. Plus it’s fun.

Basic auto maintenance. Learn how to check the oil, transmission fluid, brake and power steering fluid. Learn how to check the air in the tires and change a tire. Learn how to change the oil in your car, and change the filters.

Basic first aid. Know how to do CPR (as mentioned earlier in the thread), as well as stop bleeding, immobilize an injured person, assist someone having a seizure, heart attack, or stroke. Having at least the most basic of skills in an emergency situation will allow you to remain calm while calling first responders, and keep the injured/ill person calm.

Basic household accounting. Learn how to balance a checkbook, plan a monthly budget, and organize your bills.

Edit: I got interested in locksmithing in high school, after a friend told me her dad was a master locksmith. It’s a fascinating subject, and a lot of fun if you enjoy puzzles and doing a little work with your hands. As gla3dr said, local laws vary regarding what’s acceptable for a non-licensed person to carry. But for practical, around the house uses, you don’t need specialized equipment because most of your home locks aren’t super specialized, high end locks. For a nifty mini-tutorial, check out this site –>

Edit the Second: A lot of comments about whether balancing a checkbook is still a relevant skill. As someone who lives in a geographically rugged part of the U.S. that has lousy cell service, smart phones aren’t as ubiquitous here. Many people need to keep a checkbook because otherwise the only way to know their bank balance is to wait until they’re online via computer, or to actually call the bank and ask. I gave my cell phone away because service was so poor, and I haven’t missed it.

12. Marie Kondo has it right.

Organization. In 7th grade we were emptying out our lockers and all three lockers next to me had an avalanche of papers books and jackets it took the all the class and i just had to pick out a post it note

11. Survive the apocalypse (or a booty call).

Making 2 types of kits. One that could save your life, and one that is just so damn convenient you will never know what you did without it.

-Learn how to build a survival kit, take a few days and read about all of the uses and supplies in such a small container. Your best sources will be “SAS survival” and “Army SERE”. Such a small packet could save your life one day. (Or someone else)….also keep an extra one in your car.

-A small travel bag with utilities in it that you take with you if you plan to stay somewhere. Maybe your going on a day trip, going to a party, or your staying at a girls house. What you will need-(Toothbrush, travel tooth paste, deodorant, shaving supplies, floss, headache medicine, antacid tablets, mini soap/ shampoo, fingernail clippers, eye drops, condoms, gum, 20 dollars in cash, extra phone charger).

10. It’s a skill everyone should have.

How to budget; short term (weekly, monthly) and long term.

Basic cash flow analysis, looking at cash-in and cash-out.

Being able to look at an aggregate basis. That $1.50 ATM fees may seem small, but what happens when you add them up over the year? Suddenly you’re shocked that $250 went to paying ATM fees. If you get paid $20/hr, that means you could spend 12 hours to research and change to a new bank account with no fees and still come out ahead. (Simplistic model, but you did say a few hours/days!)

9. It’s an outdated skill set.

Routine car maintenance.

Working in the transportation industry I see people waste hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars on trivial purchases suggested by “friendly” mechanics.

Changing oil, jumping batteries, even changing tires. All simple enough to learn from youtube for the most part. Just make sure to pay attention to the positive and negatives!

8. Communication is key.

Good communication.

Read these two pages and you can avoid a lot of fights, resolve almost any conflict, and enrich your life with happy and healthy friendships and romantic relationships. Few things can help us develop as people more than practicing good communication. I highly encourage you to read these two pages and try to apply them in everyday life. Best of luck : ) !

Edit: starting at “Communication Patterns in Successful and Unsuccessful relationships” – scroll down about 3/4ths page and you’ll hopefully see it. Also, here’s a briefer version for the lazy : P

7. Baking is fun!

How to make one cocktail (e.g. a really good Manhattan or sangria), one nice meal with dessert (e.g. salmon with a nice sauce/veggies/rice and apple crisp), one casual meal (e.g. chili), one baked good (e.g. banana bread or brownies), and one dish that will be a hit a potluck (e.g. rice pilaf*), very well and make it your own.

Whatever is required of you as a host or guest is taken care of, for the most part, for the rest of your life — and you will execute it with distinction.

*EDIT – Bonus if you pick a dish that is diabetic-friendly, vegetarian, and relatively allergen-free (no nuts, soy, or gluten, etc.), because not only can you bring this to parties guilt-free but you can have it to make when you have hard-to-feed guests over for dinner. I have a quinoa pilaf dish that is my go-to for this one and even kids like it.

6. You never know when someone will need help.

I would also suggest first aid in general.

While CPR is useful, the chances you’ll need it are much lower than say, how to stop someone from bleeding or to help someone who is in shock.

I have never had to use my CPR training, but I’ve used first aid many times.

5. Information at your fingertips.

How to quickly and effectively get results from Google.

The internet is incredibly vast, and knowing how to get a specific piece of information out of the sea is invaluable.

4. Plus, you’ll feel like a pirate.

Knots. A bowline, square knot and sheep shank can get you places.

Edit: learning to tie a bowline one-handed has come in handy more often than not. Plus I find it easier and faster to tie.

3. First, learn how to learn.

Before you learn any of the suggested skills, my advice is to first learn how to learn. Optimizing your learning to make the most productive use of your time is a skill that will have transference to every aspect or your life. A book you could start with is “Daniel Coyle – The little book of talent”

If you are sincerely interested in bettering yourself and learning new skills, approach every interaction and experience as a chance to learn and understand. Ex. I was at a party yesterday and a former golden gloves boxer was there. We got to talking and he ended up showing me fundamentals of footwork and punching right there in the kitchen.

Not only will you become a better listener and have more engaging conversations, but you will begin to look at the world in a whole new way. You will experience life as it is happening, fully engrossed in the current activity, not drowning in thoughts about what happened earlier in the day or what you have left to do.

Edit: (x-post from further down in sub comments)

I’ve summarized the key ideas for skill learning in my journal as I do with most things I read or ideas I have.

In no particular order:

When learning a physical skill, watch great performances and imagine yourself inside the performers body performing the skill. For mental skills, simulate them by recreating the decision pattern. For example, if you are learning to be a better writer, take a work of literature you feel encapsulates how you would like to write and type it out verbatim. Same for public speaking and using great speeches with proper voice inflections. ** Essentially, steal from the greats and how they perform the critical skills differently than you **

To learn effectively, you have to reach. Don’t practice the same guitar song over and over, but challenge yourself. Make little games for yourself. For example, with guitar, I used to play Scarborough Fair over and over trying to perfect it. Now I play games like seeing how many chord changes I can make and strum perfectly in a minute, and then trying to beat that. Another way to reach is to close your eyes, and devote all you attention to the skill you are learning. One more note about reaches, make them positive reaches. Ex. “I am going to nail that C chord” not “I hope I don’t miss that C chord”
There is no way around it, hard skills like guitar or physical movements are about repeatable precision.

Always start each session with a review of the fundamentals. What I do specifically is have a separate page in a journal for each skill I’m learning, and then break the skill down into component parts. Back to the guitar example, I have lines for “5 – 1 minute chord changes” or “5 minutes of 3 chord songs with metronome.” Every time I complete a mini practice session I give myself a check. This way I see where my practice is legging and also get that sense of accomplishment for progressing towards my goals.
Remember, the goal isn’t practice, it’s progress. Make and write down goals for yourself so you can see your progress.

When you are successful, reflect on why you were successful, and make that level your new starting point
If you are learning material for school, test yourself more than you read. My MA is in cognitive psychology and one thing that I learned early on is that a fundamental aspect of a successful academic career is knowing how to best integrate information and encode it for easier retrieval later. By testing yourself in an environment and with questions that you are likely to see on the examination, you will be better able to recall the material when it counts.

Those are some ideas that will greatly improve not only your ability to learn new skills, but your motivation to learn them because you will have measurable goals and have tangible evidence of your improvement. All the best!

2. Because formatting is a pain.

For anyone who writes academic papers: LaTeX. Install it, fire up youtube and follow along with a tutorial.

One afternoon spent, never worry about document formatting ever again. All the content and citations, figures, titles\contents, page numbers, footnotes, hyphenation, multi-column layouts, etc all happen automatically. Also, math becomes ridiculously easy to type looks really nice.

Also, it’s free and totally cross-platform, whereas MS Office is expensive.

1. Because you’re always going to need to argue.

Basic logic rules and common fallacies.

This will greatly improve your analytic capabilities which will very likely save you from many a dumb argument, irrational beliefs, being manipulated, etc, etc.

I’m feeling inspired, how about you?

Are you going to try one? Which? Let us know how it turns out in the comments!