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6 Places You Can Learn a New Skill Online

6 Places You Can Learn a New Skill Online
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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 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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