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How You Can Learn Anything In Just 30 Days

How You Can Learn Anything In Just 30 Days

We are all capable of learning and succeeding in anything we set our minds to, but we’re often told that it can take years to learn and perfect a skill. Ben Apple of 30 Day Life Upgrade challenged this. Here, Ben shares how you can learn anything in just 30 days:

We have been given an amazing world to explore and somewhere down the line, many of us end up getting stuck into routines and never break out to discover new things.  Think back to your childhood days and all of the things that you wanted to do and the things that you wanted to become.  Somewhere down the line, those things become lost as we get caught up in our day-to-day routine.

Today we’re going to change all that by figuring out something that we’ve been putting off learning, and we’re going to map out a plan to conquer a new skill over the next 30 days.

Choose Something To Learn

To learn something new in 30 days, the first thing that you need to do is figure out what it is that you’ve been putting off learning.  Think back to things from your childhood that you always wanted to do but somewhere down the line gave up on. Explore those things, no matter how silly they may seem today, and think of the things in this life that you’d wanted to explore and maybe given up on.  Maybe you’d always wanted to learn to juggle or play basketball.  Make a list of these things.

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You may also have things in your daily life that you want to improve or learn, but don’t think you have the time.  Learn a foreign language?  Cook delicious meals for your family and friends?  Play an instrument?  There are many things that you can learn to improve your career, social life, or simply make life more interesting and enjoyable. Add these things to your list.

Now you should have a starting point with a list of things that you truly want to learn.  Now, simply choose one item off the list and make a commitment to yourself to practice and learn this skill for the next 30 days.

Study Your Chosen Topic

You may feel as if you don’t know where to begin in your new endeavor.  Fortunately, I can almost guarantee that whatever you picked to learn, the hard work has already been done and many people have walked a path before you and documented their findings. In this age of information, you will be able to find books, wikis, blogs, and research studies, all at your fingertips. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  All you’re doing is accessing and processing the information that is already available.

The hardest part of this process shouldn’t be finding information, but finding quality information. I advise a simple Amazon search to look up reviews and information on available and relevant books. Remember where you stand in your journey when seeking information.  If you are a beginner on your selected topic, ignore the advanced books.  Don’t skip the basics.   The goal of this is not necessarily to become an expert in 30 days, but to develop a strong mastery and understanding of the basics that will put you ahead of most.  If you are trying to improve upon a skill for the next 30 days, then you may choose to look up the more advanced books or search for more specialized books.

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Set a Goal

Goal setting is the most important part of the process to learn something new, so that you make sure you are on the right track.  With no goals, most people are left floundering and will move ahead slowly with no end in sight.  Having one simple goal to strive for throughout the 30 days will make the task at hand seem very attainable and make it easier to follow through.

Goals should be set to challenge you but also realistic enough so that you may achieve them and continue to push forward.  Setting a goal to become the best in the world at something sounds great, but with only 30 days, this is highly improbable.  Instead you’ll want to set goals that allow you to make great strides in a positive direction.  Learning to play the guitar?  Maybe you’ll want to master the basic chords and learn some of your favorite songs.  Want to learn to cook?  You could set a goal to host a dinner party and cook a three-course meal at the end of your 30 days.    These are goals that are well within the realm of possibility and will allow you to continue improving upon these skills after the 30 days are over, or maybe you’ll want to just sit back and enjoy the benefits of this new skill that you’ve acquired.

Make sure your goal is relevant to your ability level.  If you want to learn a foreign language from scratch, your goal should not be to become fluent in 30 days, but maybe to order at a restaurant in your target language, or have a basic conversation with a native speaker in 30 days. If you have conversational ability in a language and are trying to jump to the next level, you also need to set a goal relevant to what you want to accomplish- maybe watching and understanding a movie in the target language or reading a newspaper in that language.

Setting a measurable goal is also important. 

It isn’t clear enough to say that you’d like to be fluent in Japanese or become a world-class chef.  Those are interesting goals, but you need a way to measure your goal to know when you’ve succeeded. If your goal is to become better at chess, how do you know if you’ve actually improved over the last 30 days?  You could decide to make the goal to beat your computer chess game at a level that you have not previously been able to beat.  This is something that is very easy to measure over time to test whether or not you have succeeded at your goal.

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Remember, make your goal realistic and attainable, at an appropriate level, and make sure it’s measurable.

Break It Down

The truth is, it can be very easy to learn something new and become very skilled with just a bit of effort and a little time.

When you have your goal, the next part is to break down the next 30 days into chunks of learning and practicing to help you achieve your goal.  Not matter what you’re trying to learn, you should be able to identify sub skills needed to learn the skill completely.  For your 30 day challenge, you want to be able to break the skill into 4-5 sub skills to practice, learn, and master so that you can conquer your main goal over the next 4 weeks.

From the beginning, you should be able to create a basic outline of what your schedule should look like over the next 30 days.  Things may change as you find you need more time and practice with something, and this is fine. The main thing is that you sit down at the beginning and have a plan to get started.  Identify the sub skills necessary for the chosen skill, and spend a little time each day learning and practicing these skills that will help you achieve your goal.

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Measure and Test

Now you’ve found something to learn for 30 days and you’ve studied and outlined a plan to learn and practice your skill.  The last step is to measure and test what you’ve done.  You could wait to do this at the end of 30 days, but I recommend that you make time to test yourself at regular intervals to make sure you’re on track.  Going back to the chess example, you could give yourself a weekly test game at the level you’d like to beat or test yourself at other levels to make sure you’re improving and on the right path to meet your goal.

This guide should allow you to outline a 30-day plan for which to conduct your experiment.  At the end of the 30 days, you will be able to test to see whether or not you have succeeded.  If you haven’t reached your goal, don’t worry!  You’ve not only come a long way in your new skill (if you stuck to the plan), but you’ve also created a positive habit of working towards something and bettering yourself.

In order to truly make this valuable, I’d like you to post whatever it is that you’ve decided to learn down below in the comments, share your progress, share this with your friends, and upgrade your life over the next 30 days!

How To Learn Anything in 30 Days | 30 Day Life Upgrade

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Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan is a passionate writer sharing about motivation and happiness 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)

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.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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