8 January 2018

The 10 most useful things you can learn thi syear

Instead of resolving not to do something (drink, smoke, look at Facebook all day instead of working) - why not resolve to do something useful instead? And it doesn't come much more useful than learning a new skill.

Here are our top 10 things to learn this year.

Learn to type

I can't begin to tell you how much time this saves (as well as being an extra line on your CV). I took a typing course years ago, and can now type around 90 words per minute. Compare that to the average Joe who pecks out around 30 words per minute by doing that annoying prodding at the keyboard with their index fingers.

In case you're crap at maths - if it took you an hour to type something before, it will now take you 20 minutes. You then have 40 minutes free to watch YouTube while eating cakes. Result.

Learn first aid

Courses are cheap, easy to access and can be quite fun too. You can do a first aid course in just 6 hours which isn't much of a time commitment considering they're teaching you life-saving skills.

Think about it. If you save the life of a friend of family member, you've got that person around for who knows how much longer? And if you save the life of a stranger, you will feel like Superman or Wonder Woman.

Learn a new language

It's not just sitting in a cold night school classroom full of odd people any more. These days, you can take 'cultural immersion' courses - learning a language in the country where it's spoken, staying with a host family, getting involved in local festivals, learning about the history and art, etc.

Being at least conversational in a new language will look awesome on your CV, plus you get to impress foreign people. Which is especially useful if you happen to fancy them.

Learn a new sport (especially if you suck)

Don't skip this section if have always been rubbish at sport - this bit's actually for you. If you, like me, were always the last to be picked for the team at school, you probably assume that you're rubbish at all sports.

Now here's the thing, that's not actually true. You just haven't found the sport for you yet. If you were terrible at team sports, try doing something solo, like cycling. If you're a bit of a slow-poke, try a leisurely sport, like scuba diving. If you keep trying, you'll eventually find something you enjoy - and are good at!

Learn how to fix something

Your shelves, your bike, your increasingly unfulfilling relationship - fixing things gives you a sense of control and can save you money. Obviously if it's something involving water, electrics or your cat, call in a pro, but if it's something like changing a car tyre, replacing a shower head or mending your glasses, give it a go. YouTube will have a helpful how-to video.

If you feel a bit daunted, ask for help from someone's dad. Maybe even your own.

Learn how to manage people

If you want a promotion, you need to learn how to be the boss. Pretty hard when you're on the bottom rung, right? Here's a secret way in - manage as a volunteer. There are loads of volunteer opportunities where you can be in charge of other people. Then you can mosey up to your boss, point out all your extensive leadership experience and demand that promotion.

You can volunteer full or part-time, here or abroad. It's up to you. After all, you're the boss! (Psst... volunteering abroad opportunities can be found here).

Learn how to use social media properly

If you want to get a new job (not just now, at any time in the future), or you want to stop boring the pants off everyone on Facebook, learn how to tweet, share and update your status properly. If you use LinkedIn (and if have or need a job, you should), your profile should be properly written and optimised so the right people can find you.

There are even people you can pay to help you with your professional social media pages! And 'reputation management' companies, to get rid of those pictures of you with a bong.

Learn to play an instrument

Which instrument you pick depends on what you use it for. If you want to travel and play, obviously a harp is not the best choice. A violin will make you look classy, while a tuba is good for getting attention. A piano or guitar are good for sing-songs (also you can get away with being fairly rubbish on those and still able to produce a decent tune).

Bagpipes are never acceptable though.

Learn to take decent photographs

You don't need a massively expensive camera to take decent pictures - I take reasonable pictures with a £150 bridge camera (somewhere between an automatic and a manual), and loads of bloggers just use their phone. Learning about photography is more about composition and your subject than anything else - and many photographers will tell you to go with your passion, rather than what you think you "should" be doing.

On a personal level, you'll have a wonderful record of important stuff in your life, and if you want to take it further, you can start a photography blog, or even sell your photos.

Learn self-defence

The best thing about self-defence isn't knowing that you could kick someone's ass (although that is pretty cool). It's the confidence it gives you - when you walk down the street on your own or when you have to pass a rough-looking bunch of vegans.

That confidence could, in itself, make you less of a target - plus, it's a very attractive quality.


If you're itching to learn something new, have a look at our career break courses here.