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How to Deconstruct Any Skill You Want to Learn Faster

How to Deconstruct Any Skill You Want to Learn Faster

“One skill you want to master in this day and age we live in, if you want to have an extraordinary life, is the ability to learn rapidly.” — Anthony Robbins

The first step to learning any skill faster requires deconstructing the skill we want to learn. Deconstruction means taking something that is very large or complex and breaking it down into smaller pieces. Most, if not all, of the skills we want to learn are just bundles of smaller sub-skills that occur in combinations simultaneously.

By breaking these sub-skills down to their minimal components, you can figure out exactly what you need to learn, which sub-skills are important, and therefore which you should learn first.

Tim Ferriss shares his learning framework, called DiSSS:

  1. Deconstruction: What are the minimal learnable units I should be starting with?
  2. Selection: Which 20% of the blocks should I focus on for 80% or more of the outcome I want?
  3. Sequencing: In what order should I learn the blocks?
  4. Stakes: How do I set up stakes to create real consequences and guarantee I follow the program?

We’re going to refer to DiSSS a few times throughout this sequence.

So, how do we deconstruct a skill that we want to learn faster?

1. Have a goal

Knowing your end-goal is the most critical part to learning anything. It’s what will keep you focused towards a direction, and accountable when things get hard (which they always will).

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For language learning, this could be to reach conversational fluency, with the ability to have a 60-minute conversation with a native speaker.

For learning guitar, it could be to play 5 of your favorite songs for your partner in 90 days.

It’s important to have a bigger purpose to learning that you can refer to when you inevitably lose motivation, as learning for the sake of learning rarely lasts.

When Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team, he didn’t wake up every morning to shoot thousands of free throws so that he could make next year’s basketball team. His goal was to become the best player in the world.

2. Break it down to its LEGO blocks

The next step is to do some research online. Look at online forums or research the best language experts, business experts, or experts in whichever skill you want to master.

The goal here is to identify and list all the components involved when learning your skills, no matter how small. Don’t worry about being perfect, as you may not know all the components involved until you start, but list as many as you can before you start.

For example, if you want to become a powerful keynote speaker, it could be learning:

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  1. Body language: hand gestures, eye contact, walking style and speed
  2. Presentation slides: design, flow of the slides, content
  3. Speaking: volume, speed, content

and so forth…

Laying out all the individual components will allow you to observe the individual sub-skills involved from the outside without feeling overwhelmed. More importantly, you can now see which parts you need to focus your efforts on to reach your goal.

3. Figure out why you may quit

The first few weeks, or even days, of learning a new skill is the hardest. It’s the vulnerable moments when we’re most likely to quit and lose motivation.

You should try avoiding these obstacle points completely, at least for the first five practice sessions. You can do this by breaking down all of the actions involved to acquire the skill. For language learning, it could be searching for the right teacher, having to take the bus to meet them everyday, and needing to do follow-up homework exercises after the lessons.

When we accumulate all of these actions that are required to acquire a skill, it can be pretty daunting. Initially, we should focus on just one of these actions. One easy way to get around this would be to work with a language teacher online, so you can avoid the pain points completely.

Tim Ferris did this when learning to swim. His pain points were difficulty breathing and exhaustion from kicking, so he discovered Total Immersion Swimming, which is shallow water swim training.

We all lose motivation eventually, and it’s better to know how you will deal with it ahead of time than face it straight on without any preparation.

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4. Focus on the 20%

If you haven’t heard of Pareto’s Principle, you should read about it before continuing. The basis is that 20% of your efforts will lead to 80% of your desired outcome.

For language learning, 1200-2000 words is the range of the most common words you need to know in order to be conversationally fluent in any language in the world.

If your goal is to reach conversational fluency, it could be a simple as scheduling a weekly lesson with a language teacher who will provide you with immediate interaction and feedback.

If your goal is to play guitar fluently, it could be memorizing four chords that make up a majority of the popular songs.

If your goal is to become a better cook, you could choose 3 fancy dishes and become a master in learning those dishes.

Whichever sub-skill you decide to focus on, make sure they’re the most impactful ones, and focus all of your energy on them while removing any distractions along the way.

5. Focus on one sub-skill at a time

It may be tempting to jump in and learn multiple sub-skills at a time, especially if the end result is to master one skill. But, just as we get nothing done by multi-tasking when working, we’ll need to avoid multi-skill acquisition to maximize our progress.

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As the founder of Rype, I personally hear from dozens of aspiring language students every week who are attempting to master their Spanish speaking skills and writing when they have yet to learn basic grammar rules.

It’s a common feat that all of us ambitious individuals have within us, but a weakness when it comes to mastering a skill faster.

Get good and master one sub-skill before moving on to the next. As long as you have Pareto’s Principle in mind, you’ll feel productive knowing that you’re focusing on the sub-skills that will result in 80% of your desired outcome.

That’s all it takes to become a learning master.

Remember: the first step is deconstructing your skill, and if you can manage to do this properly, you’re well on your way to becoming a learning expert.

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

25 Most Useful Excel Shortcuts That Very Few People Know

Imagine if you could use 5 simple shortcuts while working in Excel, and increase your productivity without wasting time for searching information in huge tables, writing long formulas, and sorting the data.

Or even better:

What if you would get 25 useful shortcuts… and each of them could simplify your work, so you could do much more every day?

You’d definitely feel excited to read about them.

Today is your lucky day because we are going to share with you in this article 25 great Excel shortcuts you can use in your work every day! This is your lucky chance, so go ahead and become a real professional in Excel without wasting your time.

How important are Excel shortcuts for you?

The most effective thing to check out if people really need something is to release a survey and look at the results. So, according to the anonymous survey, 99% of people said Excel shortcuts are critical or important for them.

In general, there are more than 200 shortcuts in Excel. But when we have analyzed the data about how many shortcuts people know, we got the next results:

  • 26% of people know 10 or fewer shortcuts;
  • 61% of people know 10-50 shortcuts;
  • 10% of people know 50-100 shortcuts.

As you can see, not so many people know a lot of shortcuts. Probably, some of them never think about increasing their productivity in such a simple way.

Of course, it depends on how deep you use Excel. Some people use this powerful application just for making simple tables or graphs, others use it for everyday work to count something.

Most of the accountants and businessmen use much more Excel functions for more complex tasks such as creating VBA macros, managing PivotTables, recalculating huge workbooks, outlining data, etc.

But even those people who work with Excel every day very close may know a few shortcuts. Needless to say, they can do their job without shortcuts, but it usually takes for them much more time. T

his sounds not funny, especially if you must finish a huge amount of work urgently. There is a great opportunity for you to increase your productivity in Excel and do your job faster with our useful shortcuts.

5 Main reasons to learn excel shortcuts

Many people don’t understand why they should use shortcuts if they can work without them. Of course, if you use Excel twice per year to make a simple table or a graph, it is probably not so important for you to know many shortcuts.

But if you work in Excel every day, sorting huge tables and managing with tons of data, then shortcuts will help you to reach the next five goals:

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  1. Work efficiently and faster in Excel
  2. Manage big amounts of data easily and fast
  3. Stay calm and concentrated even while doing a tedious job
  4. Make your work accurately and properly without errors
  5. Get a better understanding of Microsoft Excel

Who can use Excel shortcuts?

There are a lot of people who can simplify their life with Excel shortcuts, and here are the groups that will definitely love using them:

  • People who work in banks, finance organizations, etc.
  • Businessmen who make tons of various reports and presentations in Excel for meetings and briefings.
  • Students who usually are lazy and impatient to make their homework because they don’t want to waste a lot of time working in Excel.
  • Private entrepreneurs who keep various data in Excel tables.

Whether you are a student who hates Excel because it seems a time-wasting and boring application, or you are an accountant who must recalculate huge worksheets every day without making errors, we recommend reading and learning these Excel shortcuts to make your work simpler and save some time.

With these simple but useful tricks, it is so easy to finish your job and get more time for yourself.

25 Excel shortcuts to increase your productivity

Here are 25 great Excel shortcuts you should learn and use for work or studying to make your job faster and simpler. Try to use them all and you will realize you were totally blind before while working in Excel:

1. Format whatever object fast with Ctrl+1

If you select any object in Excel – a cell, a chart, a chart axis, a drawing object – then press Ctrl+1, and you will get the Properties dialog for the certain object. This shortcut offers a very quick and easy way to format whatever object you’re working with.

2. Use range names with Ctrol+G or F5 key

If you use range names (which we strongly recommend to do) and you want to choose the range with a specific name references, press either Ctrl+G or the F5 key, which launches the GoTo dialog.

If the name is simple, you can click on it in a list in that dialog. But if it’s at all unusual, Excel won’t list it; so you will need to type in the name. Then press OK.

3. Use a range name in a formula with =sum( and F3

Suppose you want to use a range name in a formula. For example, you want to sum the Sales range. Enter…

=sum(

…and then press F3.

When you do so, Excel launches the Paste Name dialog. Just choose “Sales” from the list, press the OK button in the dialog, then enter the SUM function’s closing “)” to complete the formula.

4. Launch Function Arguments dialog easily with Ctrl+A

Suppose you want to check the help topic for a worksheet function. For example, you want to read about the MATCH function. In a cell, type…

=match(

…and then press Ctrl+A, or click the Insert Function (“fx“) button to the left of the formula bar.

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When you do so, Excel displays the Function Arguments dialog, which might offer all the help you need.

But if you still want to see the complete help topic, click the blue “Help on this function” hyperlink in the lower-left corner of the dialog. This technique works with all documented Excel functions.

5. Copy stuff down the column without scrolling with Ctrl+D

If you added a formula in a new column on the right of a huge dataset, and you want to copy that formula down without scrolling, do these steps:

  • go to the right to the column that has data (the column to the left of the new column with the formula);
  • press Ctrl+Down – to get to bottom;
  • move one cell to the right (with arrow key naturally);
  • press Ctrl+Shift+Up to select the new column, at the top of which is the formula you just created;
  • press Ctrl+D to fill down the formula.

6. Quick access to any function with Alt+

By customizing the quick access toolbar, you can create simple shortcuts to commands that you would otherwise have to find in the Ribbon tabs, or macros you have created yourself.

The keyboard shortcut is simply selecting Alt+ (the number of the command you wish to select).

For example, if you have customized your quick access toolbar to have Calc Sheet, Save, Open. To calculate sheet you would hit Alt+1, for save Alt+2, and for open Alt+3.

A lot of people are unaware of this useful function, and it’s a great time saver.

7. Format cells with Ctrl+1

When you need to format cells, use Ctrl+1. Most people know this as the shortcut for the Format Cells dialog, but you can also use it to format almost anything in Excel, without a care about the state of the ribbon. Try this amazing and simple shortcut!

8. Choose visible cells with Alt+

When you need to choose visible cells only – use Alt+. This is the trick to copy only what you see. It is a priceless shortcut when you’re manually hiding rows and columns in the table.

9. Use filtering

Filtering – it is a powerful way to slice, dice, and sort through a huge table of information.

It’s amazingly effective when you’re participating in a meeting to discuss something like a sales forecast, and everyone is looking in real-time at your spreadsheet projected on a screen (or on their monitors).

To some people, you will be seen as the God of Spreadsheets, and this is not a joke!

10. Insert or delete column/row easily with the Ctrl key

Some people waste a lot of time even for simple operations, for example, when they need to insert/delete columns and rows in Excel.

Use this shortcut to insert: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl+Shift ++.

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To delete: with an entire row or column selected, use Ctrl + –.

11. See formula results with F9

If you want to check formula results within multiple formulas, highlight the formula and select F9 to see formula result.

Don’t forget to undo before exiting the formula.

12. Use ALT+Enter for more text within a cell

If you want to add a second line of text within a cell, use ALT+Enter.

13. Use EDATE to move a date on by a full calendar month:

Here’s how to use EDATE:

=EDATE(15/01/16,+1) = 15/02/2016 (15th Feb 2016)

=EDATE (15/01/2016,-2) = 15/11/2015 (15th Nov 2016)

14. Use EOMONTH to move a date onto the end of the month:

Here’s how to use EMONTH:

=EOMONTH(15/01/2016,0) = 31/01/2016 (31st Jan 2106)

=EOMONTH (15/01/2016,-2) = 30/11/2015 (30th Nov 2015)

15. Remove spaces with TRIM

TRIM is a useful function known by few people. It removes any spaces at the beginning of a value. This is useful if you are pulling in values from somewhere else.

16. Repeat commands with F4 or Ctrl+Y

In many cases, you may need to repeat your last action. Use F4 or Ctrl+Y; you can repeat many commands like applying the same borders, format, or insert a worksheet again.

17. Quick access to cells with the Ctrl key and Shift key

When you need to go to the first or last cell of a worksheet, no matter where you are, use Ctrl+Home, Ctrl+End combinations.

And here is a pleasant bonus for you: add the Shift key to select everything on the way!

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18. Use Ctrl+ to create a timestamp

If you need a date stamp and/or a timestamp in your document, there is no need to type a date and time! Use shortcuts Ctrl+ ; (date) Ctrl+Shift+ : (time). It works like a magic and helps to save your time and nerves.

19. Use autosum shortcut for sum function anywhere

Autosum shortcut – use Alt =. It is a “magic” shortcut of Excel to automatically insert a sum function.

You can use this shortcut to sum rows, columns, or even an entire table in one step without wasting your time.

20. Use data validation

This is an amazing but underutilized tool in Excel, which can be used for a variety of things:

  • Create dependent drop-down lists;
  • Create drop-down lists;
  • Protect/restrict data input of specific cells (without the need for VBA macros).

21. Use conditional formatting

It can be used for various purposes such as color format or cell format of cells, rows or columns based on dependent cell values or formats.

22. Use formula auditing

This is a great tool to analyze and trace precedent or dependent cells, check errors and evaluate formulas.

The “Watch Window” is a feature to keep a snapshot of an area of the spreadsheet, and then move to another area of the workbook – particularly valuable if you’re managing large spreadsheets or don’t have a second screen.

23. Use Scenario Manager to generate summary outputs of a spreadsheet

Scenario Manager (under “What-if Analysis”) enables users to generate high-level, summary outputs of a spreadsheet – without the need to replicate the entire workbook.

It will present multiple scenarios of a spreadsheet in a succinct, high-level summary worksheet.

24. Use INDIRECT to set up large tables

INDIRECT makes it easy to set up tables which reference larger tables without a lot of referencing work or cutting and pasting; especially for dynamic spreadsheets.

25. Use OFFSET for complicated calculations or formulas

OFFSET can be useful for things like calculating YTD numbers or creating formulas that take data in rows and using in columns.

The bottom line

As you can see, when you have a boring or tedious job to do, the best way to do it fast is not looking for a way how to avoid it, but searching for the shortest variant to do it!

That is why we suggest keeping in mind these Excel shortcuts that will help you to save a lot of time and nerves.

If it seems hard for you to remember all them, you can print out the list of shortcuts and keep it on your worktable. Use it to search for some help when you need it, and over time, you’ll remember all shortcuts easily.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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