17 Free Ways To Upskill Yourself

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This post is a guest post by Becky, digital entrepreneur and owner of the Lifestyle Ninja Blog. She’s great at creating lifehacks that can enrich your everyday life massively, and I’m proud to have her on as a guest author. With this said, take it away Becky….

We live in an age of information overload.

You can find anything online almost instantly. In fact it’s so easy to learn something new that we get overwhelmed, decide not to deal with it, get out the ice cream and sit in front of the TV with no pants on watching another horrifying episode of “The Bachelor.” I know this well.

But, just hypothetically, let’s say you managed to take time out of your day to pick up a new skill. Something that would impress “the ladies.” Something that would make your flatmate look twice when you said “cerveza, por favor.” Maybe you want to casually serenade someone outside their bedroom window with a ukulele.

Whatever you want, there’s a way to get it. If you already know, or if you have no idea, here are some suggestions. (And most of them don’t even require you to put on pants.)

1. Teach Yourself a language.

Have you ever thought about picking up another language?

I speak 4 languages, not fluently, but enough to get by. I wrote a post on my blog about how I learned basic Spanish in a week, and how I believe you can learn the basics of any language much more quickly than you think, depending on how your learning is structured. For example. In Japanese, you say “_____wa doko desu ka?” for “Where is the ______?”

So, if you have a translation app or a dictionary, you can learn a few words like, toilet, train station, police station, supermarket, etc. Then you might learn, “go straight,” “right” “left” and numbers 1-10, and you’re all set to get the gist of how to get where you need to go.

No need to learn those terrifying verb conjugations first. Just what you’ll actually need. I recommend learning the 100 most common words, and that can be done in half an hour a day over a month. Why not give it a try? Languages are an awesome skill to have and even if you only know a few words or phrases, you’re bound to impress the locals. (Except maybe in France…! It takes more than that to impress the French!)

Check out Memrise which is a free resource for you to learn languages (and other things) quickly.

2. Learn WordPress

If you want to do anything online, WordPress is the first thing you should know. A knowledge of how to set up your own basic website, install plugins, and basic HTML are all necessary, and pretty easy to pick up.

Check out Jan’s great explanation of how to set up a blog.

3. Learn an Instrument

Some people have a knack for music and many never find out. Why not pick up an instrument?

Not only will you (maybe) be more attractive to the opposite sex, but you will have added another skill to your repertoire of awesomeness.

Always wanted to play the piano? Most Music stores will let you have a jam for free.

There are youtube videos up the wazoo for teaching yourself an instrument.

I highly recommend the ukulele as it’s easily transportable and it’s one of those things you can whip out at parties without freaking everyone out.

4. Learn How to Edit Videos With Free Software

There are bajillions (<—not a number) of videos on the web. Most of them are crappy, badly filmed, pixelated videos not worth watching.

By learning how to edit videos properly (and if it’s not your thing just learn enough to know how it works so when you outsource it you sound all pro and stuff) you will put yourself well ahead of the game, and maybe could even start making high quality explainer videos for companies. We all need ‘em.

Check out Techradar’s list of top free ones.

5. Cook a Meal

I don’t want to sound condescending here but EVERYONE should know how to make a few simple meals. Try cooking once a week if you never cook, and if you do cook, do it a bit more often. And I’m not talking about Macaroni and Cheese. (Although confession: yum.) I’m talking about healthy brain food that makes you feel energized. Learn to cook a few healthy meals, then just vary them as you go. You’ll feel much better for it! (NB I’m not saying you can’t eat chocolate afterwards. I wouldn’t dare suggest that.)

Read Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Chef or have a look at Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute recipes.

6. Do Yoga

Half an hour a day is enough to learn anything – how about upskilling your body?

Yoga is a relaxing way to get exercise and makes you feel great. Just grab a half hour yoga tutorial from Youtube and put a towel on your living room floor.

Check out the Sun Salutation.

7. Writing – Start a Blog/Write a Book

Half an hour a day isn’t much writing, but you’d be amazed at how good you get just by writing your thoughts out.

You could do a couple of blog posts a week like that, and get practise AND work on a blog.

Good writing is one of the most important skills you can have as a digital entrepreneur, so, what are you waiting for?

If you already have a blog, maybe start doing more regular posts or even guest posts.

Check out #2 above for Jan’s great post on it.

8. Time Management (just doing half an hour a day)

Doing anything for half an hour consistently every day is going to transform how you live your life.

Think about how powerful having a new habit would be in your life.

The thing is, you probably already have a half an hour of time you currently spend faffing about on Facebook.

Your time management will improve and it’s possible you’ll find more time you didn’t even know you had.

What to do with it? Learn something else!

9. Ask for Something Unusual Every Day

This is kind of a weird one since it’s not immediately obvious. I wrote a post about going out of your comfort zone a few weeks ago and doing something that freaks you out.

Even asking for a discount on a cup of coffee freaks me out, but sometimes I do things like that to feel a sense of achievement.

Usually people say no, occasionally you’ll get a yes. That’s not the point, the point is to do the thing and not listen to your brain telling you not to.

It’s feeling fear and taking action anyway. I believe this “action in the face of fear” is the most important thing you can do to be successful in life.

10. Read About Something That Interests You, and Get Really Good at It.

You might like gardening. You might like knitting dog costumes. You might like lifting trucks with your bare hands.

Whatever you are passionate about, why the hell aren’t you talking about it?

Learn all you can about what you’re interested in. Become a guru (sorry for using that word-I’m still cringing) on that thing and be the expert people come to.

Start a blog on it. Create a product on it. Connect with an audience who is interested in it.

11. Read the Classics

If you’ve got some time and you’re up for it, why not read some classic literature?

Yes I’m talking about Shakespeare and Jane Austen (cause hells yes) but also blogs, ebooks, guides and published media on how to get where you’re going.

It’s likely someone has done it before you, so why not learn from their mistakes?

12. Speed Reading

I found this amazing speed reading tool as a recommendation from a friend.

If you want to upskill yourself, this is an easy way to get what I call a mega-skill. How handy would it be to read a book in an hour?

To read through blog posts in a few seconds? HOW MUCH TIME WOULD IT SAVE?

Speed reading is the ultimate lifehack and in half an hour a day you can become awesome at it in only a month or two.

13. Take a Night Class in Something That Interests You

Most people aren’t aware, but at your local college/high school/community centre there are classes for cool things like pottery, martial arts, languages and cooking.

If you can find an hour a week, why not learn a new skill? (These usually aren’t free, but normally only a few dollars.)

14. Learn SEO

There are hundreds of blogs online talking about SEO. Most of them are actually correct, but I prefer Sean Ogle’s version here.

It’s a handy skill to have, and even if you don’t want to do it all yourself, you can at least get a handle on it so you know what you’re doing when you want to outsource it.

15. Learn about Affiliate Marketing

There are millions of affiliate marketing sites out there.I use this one as Josh and Jill from Screw the Nine to Five make it super easy to understand and implement quickly.

In just a few weeks, you’ll be able to build your own niche site and sell products for businesses in that niche – it’s ridiculously straightforward and the only thing you need is persistence.

16. Design an App for Fun

We’re not all coders and we may not have much money. But ideas are free, and drawing them out is fun.

If you have an idea for an app (don’t pretend like you don’t) you can draw out all the screens just using a pen and paper, or whiteboard.

At the end, if you think it’s a viable idea and a few people have said they’d use it, why not put an ad on Odesk for a developer at only a few hours a week?

Might only cost $50 a week for you to get it built and then you have an app! Or use this, which Jan recommends to learn coding.

17. Learn Photography

I know we can buy stock photos online for quite cheap. (And use a cheeky Google one every now and again, let’s be honest.)

But if you have an instagram account, you know what I’m talking about.

You can learn photography online for free and just use your iphone to take some awesome shots using the techniques you learn.

Put them on your Pinterest or Instagram and watch your friends be impressed. Plus every blog post needs a featured image!

How cool would it be to have taken it yourself?

 

There you have it. Of course, there are bazillions (<—apparently a word as spellcheck hasn’t freaked out) more options of things to learn. The most important thing is that you just get started on something. Pick one and run with it. Whatever you choose, it’s great to upskill yourself.

To learn more upskilling ideas, lifehacks and life observations, subscribe to my blog, the Lifestyle Ninja.

Thanks Becky, I think this post truly is amazing! What are your thoughts on upskilling yourself? Share it below in the comments!

Becky Crouch is a digital entrepreneur, stand up comedian and world adventurer who runs the Lifestyle Ninja Blog, which is a community of like minded people who are making their lives more awesome using online business, lifehacks and world travel. To learn more upskilling ideas, lifehacks and life observations, subscribe to her blog, the Lifestyle Ninja.

photo credit: BombDog via photopin cc

Jan Koch
Jan Koch
I`m a web designer, developer, and business coach. I work with entrepreneurs and help them leverage WordPress to the fullest, so that they build systemized business that scale.
  • http://cristivlad.com Cristi Vlad

    Wow, thanks for the spreeder! I’m just trying it out! :D I really need this kind of tool when I learn motivation and other normal texts. I don’t think it works for technical texts though…

    either way: good points on affiliate marketing, reading, getting out of the comfort zone, and time management. I focus on these everyday!

    Chris

    • Jan Koch

      Thanks Chris!
      I love Beckys tips, she really nailed this post :)

      How’s your book going?

      Cheers

    • http://www.lifestyleninjablog.com Becky

      Hey Chris! Thanks for reading the post and for your comment – I agree Spreeder would be more difficult with a technical text! Thanks for your comment, and I’d love to hear about your book!
      If you don’t already have Scrivener (for writing books,) it’s on sale at Appsumo today http://www.appsumo.com :)
      Cheers