Whether it's your New Year's resolution, a birthday promise or just an out-of-the-blue decision, you're always saying you want to learn new skills. Whether it's to get a new job, gain a new hobby or just impress girls, you say you want to learn something new, but come on, who has the time?
But what if there were a bunch of awesome skills you could learn in just a few short minutes a couple times a week? How about 11 of them? Here are the coolest skills you can learn in the time it takes to eat lunch:
1. Code like Neo
Building your own website? Lifehacker has put together do-it-yourself guides to simple coding, consisting of short, simple lessons that can be completed over the course of a week or two. Other courses like "Learn Python the Hard Way" offer introductory lessons on coding that can be accomplished piecemeal.
2. Blaze through Excel
Create charts, identify trends and even budget responsibly with Excel. Chandoo is an awesome Web resource for learning how to use the program to accomplish ridiculous things in a short amount of time. VBA macros, for example, can automate some of the boring parts of Excel, freeing you up to focus on more productive (or interesting) tasks. A few hours of learning advanced Excel functions can pay off exponentially down the line.
3. Speak in public like the president
Taking a public speaking class online might sound like an oxymoron, but Forbes contributor Kristi Hedges says expensive, time-intensive public speaking courses don't really work anyway. The University of Washington offers an online introductory course — for free. Bonus skill: Learn how to break bad news.
4. Drop more history knowledge than the Smithsonian
Become a human history book by listening to the countless podcasts by real historians and commentators, with most of them free. One of the best ones is Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, which chronicles some of the nastier moments of humanity's past (the episode on the Eastern Front of WWII is particularly evocative). The History of England series documents England's past in chronological order, starting from its ancient past. So far, it has reached the year 1397. Other topics to discover include ancient Rome, the Byzantine Empire, Norman history and Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time. The BBC also offers A History of the World in 100 Objects, a series of 15-minute podcasts on the historical context of impressive relics.
5. Dice like a master chef
Impress your friends and family with Lifehacker's kitchen hacks and skills that will make you a pro at whipping up dishes. But the No. 1 skill is learning simple knifework, such as dicing an onion in just a few seconds. If you're like me and prep work like chopping takes up too much time in your kitchen, watching and practicing a few how-tos will make your recipes a hell of a lot simpler and less time-consuming.
6. Rock an axe like Hendrix
There are hundreds of sites whichthat offer free guitar lessons online, like JustinGuitar.com and Video Tabs, which catalogued the best of YouTube instructional videos (dead as of 2011, so its musical selection is at least three years out of date). Learning to play guitar can take a decent amount of time, though, so think of it as a long-term project.
7. Talk about economics and business without putting people to sleep
Stanford's Stan Christensen will show you what's really important in negotiations. UC Berkeley put its introductory statistics course online, while Yale did the same for psychology. Real-world math by Saylor can help you tune up your math skills and apply them to actual situations. Learner.org breaks it down even further including a primer on why gambling basically never pays off. For the ambitious, learn about economics all over the globe with NPR's Planet Money, made by the same team who produced the award-winning "The Invention of Money" for This American Life. (For pure econ, Tim Harford recommends Russ Roberts' EconTalk.)
8. Search through Google like Sergey Brin himself
Google's already pretty efficient, but you can learn how to use it even more effectively with a few quick reads. The Google guide covers the basics, but using advanced search operators can make your experience a little smoother.
9. Handle the police like Johnnie Cochran
Even if you're not involved in anything shady, it's definitely a good idea to know how to react when the cops arrive. The ACLU has a breakdown of your rights, and more tips on what to do if the cops show up at your house can be found here. The Daily Caller of all places has an infographic accurately breaking down your responsibilities and rights during an encounter with the police.
10. Put yourself in total control of your destiny (and home)
Unf*ck Your Habitat has guides to cleaning and life improvement in short amounts of time, while Reddit's Get Disciplined board has all kinds of tips ranging from the extremely helpful to the dubiously reasoned. This Old House has 100 repair or improvement ideas for $100 or less — and most of them would be considerably cheaper if you used discount or generic parts.
11. Learn something totally and awesomely useless
Well, there's an entire section of Reddit devoted to it. In particular, this video about putting on pants without using your hands.