What are some fairly atomic skills that most people can learn in, say, 40 hours and will significantly improve their life?

@rixx Cleaning up and cooking some tasty dishes. (Not accounting for learning to get the energy for actually doing it on a regular basis.)

@dkl Yeah, both of these are definitely very good to improve in a 40h frame, with a lot of resources out there to make it achievable and worthwhile.

@rixx Soldering simple stuff like broken cables.

@toni Yeah, soldering is a great example, and with 40h you'll be able to progress beyond simple cables, too.

@rixx Meditation or other relaxation techniques

@toni I agree on relaxation techniques, I'm more doubtful about a meditation practice that exceeds "sit still, eyes closed, breathe".

@rixx @toni I think you could meaningfully learn body scan meditation or some simple techniques like that.

@rixx Sewing your own bow tie for formal occasions, but thats rather opinionated. Being able to produce eatable dishes is also important :)

Knitting, giving a massage, learning to play an Instrument...

I liked this TED talk about the topic:

The first 20 hours -- how to learn anything | Josh Kaufman | TEDxCSU

@Stoori Hmm, I don't know all that many people who don't know how to ride a bike (it's pretty much mandatory education here), but I suppose if you have reached adult age without learning it (even though you're physically capable of it), that would be a good use of time.

@rixx Okay, I didn't get you were after new skills for adult people. :)

@rixx improving your peripheral vision. No joke, a few hours practice and your spatial awareness is greatly improved, and you'll never lose it as a skill. It can be done just by putting something on TV/computer and looking a bit away from it while trying to make yourself identify what's happening, or there are online training things for it I think. I improved mine as an orchestral musician so I could read music while remaining perfectly in time to the conductor's baton.

@s0 Oh wow, this is interesting! Never heard of people doing that deliberately, thank you!

@s0 @rixx uhhh that sounds interesting... I think I will try this.

@rixx Brief daily journalling -- 3 things you planned to do in the morning; 3 things that actually happened before bed. Doesn't have to be huge, but comparing plans to reality can really change decisions.

@rixx Also if you fall into a situation where you need to say that (or when) x happened .. it makes a /huge/ difference.

@feonixrift Hmm, don't think that fits the 40h frame very well, though I agree that it's a good habit.


so, how concentrated is this 40 hours? like, an 8 hour workday for a 5-day week? or 15-20 minutes a day for about a month?

because the latter is not a bad fit for journaling in my experience


@deejoe @feonixrift Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't quite see how I'd improve/learn something new *about journaling* after the first two hours or so?


lol, OK, you've inspired me to log into the web client on my desktop so I can use a non-onscreen keyboard to pile up some words about this 😀



learning, in my experience and I expect in many other cases, is in some ways about overcoming internal resistance to the new

one thing one learns is that you can't wait until you "have time" to journal. time marches on, and it just piles up, and you're never going to get it all, and certainly not perfectly



if one has perfectionist or procrastinative tendencies then journalling is about learning how to overcome those, at least in the context of writing

it's about learning to turn the dial from nothing-but-in-your-head reflection back towards a balance of reflection and active expression



it's also like learning anything else, you need time to practice, to build habits. What you learn in specific is going to depend a *lot* on how one does the writing, and how constrained or expansive one wants to get about it.

in my case, I *also* used the opportunity from having new text everyday as an opportunity to learn more about version control, by pushing my journal additions around amongst a peer set of ssh git remotes, but I don't expect that to be general.


@deejoe @feonixrift "Learn journaling in 40 hours" just seems off to me, but I also fundamentally disagree with your approach towards habit building, I think, so this is probably just a basic incompatibility in how our minds work.


ok, yeah, if you're fixed on 40 hours I can't defend that rigid of a time scale. But it's more than 2 hours, for sure. Is it 20? I don't know. It depends.



I'd be interested if you want to say more about your views on habit-building. If you've written something already on it that I've missed, a pointer would be great.

I'm skeptical about some lifehack-type here's-how-to-build-habits stuff because, yeah, they seem too often to take a ... non-humanistic approach, maybe?

but some of those things about which I was once skeptical I came around to in my own way & have found valuable, at least in limited ways, so...I'm open to it.


@deejoe Hmm, so my views are not prescriptive or universal. I fully acknowledge that habits seem to work for most people. They feature prominently in serious literature and productivity porn stuff. They just don't work for *me*. I've written a bit about it here:

@deejoe @rixx Given my answer above, it may be surprising - I'm one of the people habits /don't/ work for in the traditional sense. I can do something studiously for months and then forget I'd ever done it; it never establishes as automatic. This is why I don't consider a small daily habit easy to learn to do. It also means I extract very high value from being able to look back over notes and see what habits I've mislaid, or what I used to do that did or didn't work.

@feonixrift @deejoe @rixx this is interesting. Do you also consider yourself neurodivergent?

I have self-dx adhd, and I also feel revulsion against habit building, but I still recognize that humans are creatures of habit and that some things will stick.

Say small things like "don't sit down while boiling the kettle, continue preparing breakfast, or tidy up".
It's not a habit if do x daily, but a habit of "if this then that".

@maloki @deejoe @rixx I am what I am; I would not call myself typical, that's for sure. No-one in my family for generations has been. We work in our own way. For myself I've found most of the come-and-go skills nutritional in the end, except the total failure of habits to, well, habituate. But I also have a family quirk that none of seem able to get psychologically addicted, which may relate.


to get back to the first two hours part of your question ... if you do 15-20 minutes a day, then that two hours is about a week.

That's long enough for something to come up that will break the daily string. Part of establishing some persistence is in coming back to something. This is a longer phase aspect of overcoming perfectionism or procrastination, the "I have already lost the thread why bother" or "it's going to be so much work"



ok, I knew I was off on my math here. gut was telling me a few months but I got caught up in trying to account for the 5 minutes-a-day difference between 15 and 20 ☹️


@deejoe @rixx because a 15-20 min habit takes 30+ days to firmly establish. You didn't say hours all at once...

@feonixrift @rixx When I did that it worked for a week or so and then it became first a chore and then yet another source of guilt if I couldn't do it (or the obligation itself paralysed me).

@irina @rixx I'll never be perfect at it... I'll never not have weeks of Super Tracking and weeks of 'wtf even happened?' and occasional spans of 'ok, five words in bad writing and I don't know what they mean'. Accepting that is a huge challenge.

@feonixrift @rixx I blog (mostly about books and church and food) and say things about my life here, but I don't think I need a record of everything that happened in my life. I do feel guilty every time people mention journals as a mental health tool! But I don't think it would work for me, just increase the load instead of being a coping mechanism.

@irina @rixx As the best professor I ever had said to us frequently, "you do you!" .. you know best for yourself what works.

@rixx Because it seems to be a good thing to do that helps all the people who it? Or perhaps it's "I wish I was the sort of person who wants to do this because I'd have so much fun doing it", like cosplay or jewellery.

@rixx Anyway, lots of things give me irrational guilt, that's just me.

@musicmatze Not sure how you'd practice that deliberately in a 40h frame.

@rixx yeah, not in one session, but overall in 40 hours you can probably say "no" a million times 😄

@rixx learning a better shoelace knot doesn't take 40 hours, although it does improve your life by a very small degree.

@rixx basic knitting with and without a machine on a level of repairing stuff or small corrections.


@Jaddy Ohh, yes, good one! Should be good enough to for a scarf and geting in some fundamentals.

1. (Not necessarily important for you, but for others:) basic first aid
2. How to keep a bicycle in good repair (brakes, tires,...) ideally on the go/road so you never strand in the middle of nowhere.

@Ben Both excellent points, and my first aid skills could definitely use a refresher.

@rixx If you drive a car, basic car repair and maintenance is very useful. Nothing complicated, just things like changing tires, brake pads, checking and filling fluids, and simple diagnosis. Mechanics are really expensive, even for simple stuff.

@frostotron Oh yes, definitely! I've never owned a car, but that part of it feels pretty scary, and I imagine it would be very empowering to know more about it.

1) Basic food preparation/cooking from scratch
2) Gardening? Takes longer than 40 hours in some ways, because plants only grow as fast as they grow, but the actual *learning* isn't too bad in terms of input time
3) Rudimentary foraging skills in your local area
4) Rudimentary skills in a second (or third, or whatever) language
5) Home food preserving techniques

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