# 12 skills you can learn in a week that will impress just about anyone

caption
A competitor solves a Rubik’s cube using one hand during the Rubik’s Cube European Championship in Prague.
source
Thomson Reuters

In his 2013 TEDx Talk, “The first 20 hours,” author and business expert Josh Kaufman busts the myth that learning new skills takes a lot of time.

Proficiency, Kaufman says, is really only 20 hours away.

Divided into two- or three-hour chunks, that’s about a week’s worth of practice. As responders to recent Quora threads have attested, that’s plenty of time to learn a host of impressive skills.

Here are just a sample of the many you could pick from.

### Learn to play a song on a musical instrument

Music theory is highly complex, but a week should be enough time to learn a single song on the ukulele or harmonica.

(At the end of his TEDx Talk, Kaufman shows off his ability to play a few chords in a medley of pop songs on his own ukulele, which he spent just 20 hours practicing on.)

On Quora, Karan Babar suggests picking a somewhat rare instrument if you want to impress people most.

### Learn to drive stick shift

source
simpologist | Flickr

Automatic transmissions are no doubt easier, but the ability to shift gears while driving still turns some heads. It’s also a useful skill to have if you ever need to drive someone else’s car.

The actual mechanics of using the clutch and gear shift are straightforward, but you’ll probably spend most of your week learning how to time your shifts correctly. Nobody likes to lurch.

### Learn to solve a Rubik’s cube

source
Thomson Reuters

Speed-cubers – the people who solve Rubik’s cubes as fast as possible, sometimes in less than 10 seconds – will tell you there’s nothing all that special about the puzzle.

You just need to know a set of algorithms – or turn patterns – that orient pieces of the cube one at a time. Memorizing the order of those turns can be done surprisingly quickly.

A beginner could easily solve a Rubik’s cube in less than two minutes over the course of a week.

### Learn to tell a great story

source
Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design/flickr

Storytelling is a skill just like any other: There are rules to follow and mistakes to avoid to do it successfully.

The greatest storytellers captivate audiences by telling authentic stories that deliver on a promise, explains author and entrepreneur Seth Godin. The stories have drama and an arc. They go somewhere.

Also important: Good storytellers know when to end.

### Learn to parallel park

source
Screengrab from GuinnessWorldRecords on YouTube

As Ankush Singhal writes, almost everyone needs to learn to parallel park to get a driver’s license, yet many people can’t do it well.

A week is plenty of time to get used to positioning the car next to the car in front and learning when (and how much) to turn the steering wheel.

Bonus points if you learn to do it all with one hand.

### Learn to cook an amazing dish

source
Kzenon/Shutterstock

Cooking for other people is about as primitive as skills get, so it helps to have at least one dish as your go-to.

Many pasta dishes can be pulled off without much difficulty, provided the sauce is well-seasoned and flavorful. Likewise, cooking the perfect steak doesn’t always require weeks-long dry aging.

Pair both with a complementary wine, and you’ve got an impressive meal to serve up.

### Learn the basics of martial arts

source
David Ramos/Getty

Self-defense is one of those skills you hope to never use, but it’s handy nonetheless.

More than one Quora user has professed the value in getting basic blocks, punches, and takedown maneuvers under your belt.

Like cooking, protection is a primitive skill that can go a long way toward earning people’s respect.

### Learn to recite multiple digits of pi

source
Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr

Impressive skills aren’t always practical.

Memory experts remember long strings of words or numbers by “chunking” different batches together. To learn the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter – an irrational number that stretches on forever – spend each day memorizing six or seven numbers after the decimal.

As the days go by, add each new batch to the overall string.

### Learn to speak the basics of a new language

source
Shutterstock

People who speak multiple languages are called polyglots. Matthew Youlden and his brother Michael can speak over a dozen, making them “hyperpolyglots.” Recently, they learned to speak conversational Turkish in a week.

The Youldens credit a language learning app called Babbel, lots of flash cards, and Turkish pop culture as the keys to getting familiar with the new tongue.

### Learn to break an apple with your bare hands

source
katie hargrave/Flickr

Tough as the fruit may be, there’s a trick to splitting an apple with no knives or stomping required.

First, remove the stem. Then place your fingertips underneath the apple with the fleshy part of both palms on the top of the apple. Pull up with your fingers and roll your hands out. With a few tries, the apple should split clean in half – no super-strength required.

### Learn to juggle

source
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Even if you seriously doubt your hand-eye coordination, juggling is probably within reach.

The easiest way to get the hang of it within a week is to start with two balls. Practice tossing just two up in the air, first with your right hand and then with your left. Work your way up to tossing a third when the first is at its peak.

Soon you’ll be able to put separate tosses into one fluid juggling motion.

### Learn the basics of tailoring

source
Flickr/Sandy Chase

People spend their whole lives becoming master tailors, but the fundamentals can come pretty quickly.

A week should be plenty of time to learn a basic sewing stitch or two, which kinds of fabrics are used in which garments, how to use a sewing machine, and how to take measurements.

You can also learn how to make alterations – just in case things don’t go exactly right the first time.