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.

@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

@artsyhonker The language skills would be very rudamentary, probably. All other points are really gret, though! I'm sure I could teach somebody all I know about food preservation in 40h, easy, and gardening is an idea that hasn't come up yet, either.

@rixx Yeah; I'm thinking of 40h as enough to be able to start learning more, if you need to, not a complete course by any means.

Also it depends on the language and context. If you start with English, it's probably easier to learn Swedish, Dutch or even German than, say, Hebrew or Japanese.

@artsyhonker @rixx

if there is familiar content from childhood available in both languages that can make learning easier.

I remember starting learning Dutch by remembering "Het Smurfenlied" (where the lyrics are near identical in English and Dutch), and also "Een muis in een molen in mooi Amsterdam" 🐭

@vfrmedia @rixx Yeah, I grew up in Canada and when I studied Spanish I was all "wait, I can't practise this by reading the cereal box".

My French is very *very* rusty now and Québécois French is weird anyway, but I'm sure I found it easier than I would have if I'd learned in the UK.

@artsyhonker Ohh, big discussion, and very origin specific! I'm not sure any language is inherently harder to learn. That's a very individual thing, after all.

@rixx It is certainly very individual; but I think some languages are easier for some people to *start*, at least in certain contexts.

The context definitely matters a lot though.

@rixx Soldering - being able to replace some cables or broken components safes a ton of money and reduced waste
Basic Powertool Usage (mostly safety precautions) - being able to fix stuff in your home/garden/car
- riding the bike

@rixx Crochet. You will be able to make your own clothes.

Basic sewing and mending.
Developing a basic system for staying organized.

@rixx such a broad range range for "atomic," "most people," how the 40 hours are allocated, and how life improvement is defined.

That said I can think of a few domains:

conversation / public speaking
drawing / knitting or any other creative practice
journalling / logging

@rixx CPR and first aid. Proper wound care can really make a difference for you and everyone at home, and CPR safes literally lives.

- some basic conflict-resolving techniques
- some basic project-management stuff
- origami fundamentals
- voice training
- sketching

@betalars Which starting points/resources would you point people to for conflict resolving, project management, and voice training?

@rixx I myself have mostly picked that up during my educational journey along the way and a lot of it was in german, so I cant point you at a source. :(

And I also wouldn't google it, because there's also a lot of really useless information about those topics in the internet.

I'd probably look up some of that in a libary. There are also probably some worksops about these topics in your area if you look for it and also there's going to be chiors and improv theatre groups for voice training.

@rixx Can see you've had loads of replies so these might have been covered already but also I guess it depends on your definition of "significantly improve".

DIY skills
Bike repair skills
Car maintenance
Darning socks
Food prep and cooking; especially bread making

@Luke I've recently thought about the fact that darning and patching seem to be vanishing skills, and vanishing activities. At least they are in the families I know.

@rixx Only people I know who could darn socks are of my parents generation (and I'm late 40s!).

@Luke @rixx

My grandmother in Malaysia did, my mum and aunts /could/ but they had mostly stopped doing this by the 1970s.

One of my aunts was always sewing/making clothes during the late 1970s to early 1980s; but she didn't have to go to work back then.

My other aunt (now in her 70s) recently acquired a sewing machine and wants to make clothes for her grandchildren, but having free time to do that is a big factor (she works full time as director of a healthcare company)

@Luke I'm late 20s, and my mum (late 40s) used to darn all our socks (I "helped"). She then stopped a couple of years ago when we started to be able to afford … things in general.

@Luke She still sews and knits clothes, and occasionally patches them too (especially for my younger siblings). It's just the darning that has stopped.

@rixx which I guess comes back to what's the definition of "improves" as I'm sure people that *HAVE* to darn things would say their life is improved if they didn't have to! :)

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