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6 Places You Can Learn a New Skill Online

6 Places You Can Learn a New Skill Online

We’re lucky enough to live during a time in which almost every single piece of information known to mankind is available to almost anyone searching for it. And you don’t need to shell out tens of thousands of dollars on a college degree to start learning, either. There are countless websites out there to help start you out on the path toward learning a new skill. Whether you want to pick up a new hobby or make yourself more marketable, the Internet is there to help. While many of the following services offer most for those willing to pay for premium memberships, they all have a lot to offer free of charge.

1. Learn to code

Computer programming is becoming an increasingly prevalent and marketable skill in the modern world. Luckily, sites like Koding can help get you started from the ground up by providing users with a cloud-based environment where they have access to a network of over one million of their peers. You can start by reading through a number of guides designed to get beginners on their feet, then move onto chatting and working with other more advanced programmers.

Best of all, it’s absolutely free!

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2. Learn a new language

If programming isn’t for you and you’d rather stick to human languages, sites such as Duolingo have you covered. Using Duolingo, you can learn Spanish, French, Portugese, Italian, and much more through lessons that build on one another as your skills increase. You’ll start with simple tasks, such as learning nouns, adjectives, and verbs, eventually being able to string sentences together fluently.

And — I can’t believe I’m saying this again — it’s totally free!

3. Learn to speed read

While reading for pleasure or information is one of the more wholesome activities you can undertake, it can also be time consuming. However, Spreeder aims to help you cut down on the time it takes to get through articles and novels without allowing any information to slip by you. By weaning you off of subvocalization, Spreeder not only trains you to increase your reading speed by up to four times, but also helps ensure your reading comprehension increases as well.

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Although Spreeder is free, it’s part of a larger program titled 7SpeedReading, which is a much larger and more in-depth premium program.

4. Learn to draw

Drawing is one of those skills that most people just assume you either have or don’t. But that simply isn’t the case. Anyone dedicated enough can learn the techniques artists use to create beautiful masterpieces. Sites like Drawspace offer a variety of lessons, from art history and terminology to strategies and tips to take your drawing skills to the next level.

Although many of the lessons on Drawspace are free, to get the full effect you need to become a paying member.

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5. Learn to play music

Similar to drawing, people tend to think they aren’t “musically inclined” and will shy away from trying to learn an instrument — even if they really want to give it a go. Luckily, those hesitant to pick up an instrument and play in front of a master instructor can use sites like LessonFace to take virtual lessons on anything from guitar and piano to singing and rapping. While you will be interacting with actual teachers, doing so through a computer screen is much less nerve-wracking than playing in front of actual people.

Though there are many sites that offer standard lessons free of charge, LessonFace is more of a “middleman” that connects learners to master instructors who offer their services for a variety of fees.

6. Become a photographer

Ironically, despite the fact that true photography is just as difficult as playing music or creating art, services like Instagram have led everyone to believe that it’s incredibly easy. Of course, that’s not the case. To get you started as a true photographer, however, Lifehacker offers a five-part lesson, from understanding the equipment to the various techniques involved in bringing still photos to life.

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If you’re that serious about photography, be prepared to shell out a pretty penny for even the most basic equipment. But you can’t really put a price tag on a new skill or hobby, can you?

Featured photo credit: the goddess of folk metal / M. Jeremy Goldman via farm1.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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