It’s true it can take years to truly excel at certain things, but that doesn’t mean you can’t acquire a new knowledge base in a relatively short period. Check out 15 skills that can take less than a month to learn.
Although it’s convenient, takeout can be expensive and nutritionally suspect. Learning to fend for yourself in the kitchen can be a great way to save money and even improve your health. A month is plenty of time to learn how to properly boil pasta (water level matters), when to adjust heat, and how to cook vegetables so they’re something you actually look forward to eating.
Basic HTML skills aren’t nearly as intimidating to understand as some telephone book-sized manuals would suggest. Learning how web pages are built could come in handy the next time a job application asks if you have any design experience.
Not all children learn this valuable—and potentially life-saving—skill, making for a portion of adults who are wary of getting submerged. But you don’t need to feel confined to a life of doggy-paddling: It may take as few as eight 30-minute lessons to become proficient enough to feel comfortable in the water.
What would you do if someone wasn’t breathing or their heart stopped? If you’re not sure, you’re probably a candidate for lessons in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR. Learning this emergency response to keep blood circulating until help arrives takes just a few classes.
5. DRIVE A MANUAL TRANSMISSION
Ever find yourself itching to drive a friend’s sports car—but then admitting you never learned how to operate a stick-shift? Trust us: it’s not that hard. Practicing with the car turned off, then off-road, can help you build confidence to take it out on the street.
6. PHOTO EDITING
In addition to just being fun, digital photo editing is also a talent that’s becoming more sought after on the job market. While it can take a long time to become proficient in photo editing software, just a few online classes can have you picking up the basics of cropping, filters, and image correction.
7. CARD SHUFFLING
Envious of how professional card dealers can make shuffling seem like an art? You can learn how to properly shuffle and deal a card deck in just a few sessions—once those are mastered, learning more elaborate card spreads can follow.
8. LOCK PICKING
No, we’re not advocating that you learn how to be a criminal in four weeks. There’s actually a subculture of lock picking aficionados who enjoy the challenge of cracking a lock. More importantly, there’s a surplus of padlocks and other security devices that have missing keys or forgotten combinations. It’s a skill that could eventually save you the cost of bolt cutters.
Contrary to popular belief, getting the basics of drawing down doesn’t require any innate talent. You can learn how to do more than doodle with some daily practice and assistance from online or book-guided tutorials that cover shadows, lighting technique, and some of the geometric shapes that make up the foundation of illustration.
While it won’t get you ready for a pro tour, a month of surfing lessons can net you some basic awareness of ocean safety, board balancing, and how to latch yourself onto an incoming wave.
A black belt in a martial art can take years, but you won’t need that long to learn and practice some basic (but effective) self-defense techniques that could come in handy if you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation.
12. LEARN A SONG
Some instructors will swear you can learn a musical instrument in a month. It’s not impossible, but you might be better off aiming to learn a melody or entire song on your instrument of choice as a way of finding out whether you’d like to dive in further.
More than just a neat addition to your resume, becoming a notary can also be handy if you decide you’d like to make a little extra money on the side by endorsing document signatures. While state requirements can vary, most mandate just a few hours of training.
14. PICK UP A FOREIGN LANGUAGE
You probably won’t become fluent in 30 days, but you’ll be surprised by how much you can learn if you commit to studying every day for a month. There are a number of free apps and websites that can help you improve your skills. Or you can kick it old school and make a stack of vocabulary flashcards.
Maybe you’re not planning on joining the circus, but juggling can still help sharpen your hand-eye coordination. Experienced jugglers believe it takes just about a month to master what’s called the three-ball cascade, the alternating toss-and-catch method that will have you keeping three objects in the air.