19 practical skills to learn to grow your skill sets

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 12 September 2022

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It's beneficial to learn valuable skills to help you prepare for any opportunities or challenges in your life. Before you choose the practical skills you want to learn, first consider why you want to learn the skill. Knowing about the different practical skills available may help you decide which skills you'd like to learn. In this article, we consider what practical skills are and look at examples of valuable skills you might learn to improve your life.

Related: 11 top job skills: transferable skills for any industry

What are good practical skills to learn?

Choosing good practical skills to learn can improve your life. There are a variety of skills you can learn, ranging from personal or interpersonal skills to profitable ones. Here are 19 practical skills to learn if you want to grow and develop your skill sets:

1. Speed reading

Most people use sub vocalisation when reading, saying the words in their head as they read. Sub vocalisation slows people down when they read. When you learn to speed read, you learn to avoid sub vocalisation and skimming through texts. It also helps you to comprehend information easier at faster speeds.

Related: Skills vs. competencies: understanding the key differences

2. The art of delegating

Many managers try to micromanage tasks and their team members. The consequence of this is that they allow issues that are not important to drain their mental energy. Learning to delegate lets managers free up their time and use their mental energy for important tasks.

3. Learning to play an instrument

Playing an instrument is a fun skill to learn. It can boost your memory and improve your cognitive function, which can help you work more effectively. There are a variety of mental and health benefits to learning to play an instrument. Although there are many online courses available to help you learn, you may learn faster if you can find a tutor in your area to teach you.

Related: What's the importance of cognitive ability in your career?

4. Prioritising tasks

Many people don't know how to prioritise tasks. For some, this might be due to not doing daily planning. Learning to prioritise can increase productivity. Having a simple to-do list can help you prioritise your tasks and become more effective in completing deliverables.

Related: What are hard skills and how do they differ from soft skills?

5. Mastering body language

Any skill that can improve your communication with others is worth learning. Body language covers gestures, facial expressions, body posture and eye contact. Using the correct body language helps you to express yourself more effectively.

6. Videography skills

Video content has become more popular than written content in social media. Videos are entertaining and stimulating, making them enjoyable for people. Learning videography skills, including shooting videos, lighting and editing, can help you gain traction on platforms where you can post video content.

7. Gaining mental clarity

Developing mental clarity involves developing the skills to declutter your brain to find focus and direction. Having a defined goal can increase your mental energy and physical performance. Developing a daily routine and a vision for your future can help you prioritise tasks and get things done.

8. Learning humour

Learning to be funny can be a fun skill to learn. People typically like people who make them laugh. When you make people laugh, you can be at the centre of attention in social groups, which may give you benefits such as influence with your peer group and increased social exposure. Humour can increase camaraderie and productivity in work environments.

One of the best ways to learn to humour is by watching people who are good at it to learn how they deliver their punchlines and use timing and tonality. One of the first steps to learning humour is to try laughing at yourself. Embracing your weaknesses and laughing at yourself shows people you have self-confidence.

9. Writing

Another creative ability to have is writing. Writing is an evergreen talent and one of the most robust communication methods. It's a skill you can use in your work and personal life to write work reports or romantic letters. Writing can be an excellent ability to have if you're interested in pursuing a freelance writing career. With writing as a competency, you can earn money writing blog posts, social media posts or copywriting.

Related: 5 reasons why writing skills are essential for every job

10. Learning a second language

Learning a second language is excellent for improving your mental capabilities. You can expose yourself to new rules and vocabulary to stimulate your brain and help it function better. It helps you connect better with people who speak the language. It may also open new job opportunities for you, such as translating books or documents. There are many apps you can use to learn a variety of languages.

11. Carrying conversations

Being able to carry on a healthy discussion is a useful skill for everyone. People love interacting and spending time with others who can carry on a conversation. Being able to carry a conversation helps others feel comfortable. This skill is essential for winning an argument and succeeding in negotiations.

12. Learning to influence others socially

Learning to influence other people socially is a valuable skill for everyone. People like Nelson Mandela and Franklin Delano Roosevelt mastered the art of social influence. You can read many books to learn how to influence other people, such as Influence: Science and Practice by Robert Cialdini and How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

13. Controlling your creativity

Some people are innovative and can find solutions to problems. You can learn to control your creativity to ensure you never run out of ideas. There are many techniques you can use to gain control over your creativity. The first way is to take part in a creative hobby you love, such as drawing, singing or playing a musical instrument. Doing a hobby can help you become creative and generate innovative ideas.

Another helpful way to develop a creative approach to problem-solving is Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats Technique. This technique requires you to divide your thought process into six different thinking styles, or hats, and to use only one hat at a time. For example, wearing a white hat may mean thinking about the financial aspects of a situation. A red hat may consider the emotional aspects of the situation and a black hat may focus on the obstacles to a situation.

14. Home repairs

Being able to make minor repairs in your house can be beneficial, both physically and mentally. Doing repair work requires focus and a level of skill. Psychologically, it can help you feel more attached to your home. It can also save you money since you don't have to pay for someone else to do the repairs.

15. Public speaking

Most people get nervous about giving a speech to a large audience, such as giving a speech at a wedding as a best man or presenting at work. Learning to speak in public can benefit you on a personal and professional level. The best way to learn to speak in public is by making sure you prepare thoroughly for your speech to help ease your nerves when you're in the limelight.

Related: How to improve public speaking skills to communicate effectively

16. Cooking

Cooking is something we can all learn to do. Being able to prepare a meal for yourself helps you to be more self-reliant. Cooking can also help you learn more about your specific food preferences and can even save you significant amounts of money.

17. Driving and reading maps

Driving is a vital skill that most people can use throughout their lives. The younger you are when you learn to drive, the easier you may find it. Once you master driving, you can never unlearn this skill. If you spend significant amounts of time driving for your job, knowing how to read is a critical skill. Even when driving in an urban area, the ability to read a map can help you get to your destination quickly and safely.

18. Gardening

Gardening is a fun, healthy and fulfilling activity. It's educational as you learn which plants work together and how to take care of your plants. Whether you plant vegetables for food or flowers for enjoyment, gardening helps you connect with nature. Gardening doesn't give immediate gratification, causing you to develop patience while you wait for your plants to grow.

19. Computer literacy

Computer literacy is a critical practical skill we all require to function effectively in a digital world. Some examples of how we all use computer literacy are using an ATM, using tablets, connecting to Wi-Fi or setting up printers. We also use computer literacy in the work environment when we prepare presentations or write documents.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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